For your sixth assignment, your task is to write a portrait of a powerful individual. This entails writing an essay that shares much with a strict fact-based biography, but also includes elements of your own analysis. Much like the essays we have been reading, your essay should track the course of the individual’s rise to power, analyze their use of power, or explain their fall from power (you can include all or focus on one or two). As this essay will be two to three pages, selecting the most appropriate details will be essential for creating a clear and concise portrait. A quick review of the McNamara pieces and the Mongols essays can show you something of how to select details. In addition, works like Said and Weatherford can show you the kind of mindset you need to bring to the materials you gather as research.
When it comes to selecting your topic, reject the first notion that pops into your head (and likely the next four, too). Essays about Lee Myung-bak, Ban Ki-moon, Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, and many others will be rehashing territory that has been covered many times before. Search for individuals that may provide more interest both for you and your reader.
Do some research and begin outlining the important events in this individual’s life. Once you’ve developed a list of events, begin selecting in order to best show the aspects of the individual you want to convey. Keep in mind that you should be critical in your choices of sources and also in your own approach to your topic. The final essay will be due Monday, October 22 in class. Be sure to manage your time wisely (it’s wise to get a start as soon as possible). You should be prepared to bring two possible topics to class with you on Tuesday, October 16. Good luck, and feel free to email me if you have questions or concerns.
Proper citation rules and the normal idiot errors still apply (proofread carefully). The penalties for such errors will be severe.