Topic: Buddha’s Teachings in the Dhammapada
For this paper, students will do a 7-8 page critical analysis of a selected Buddhist text that we have read for class.
Analyze the teachings of the Buddha in the Dhammapada. What are some of the major Buddhist themes of this text and what kinds of language and imagery does the Buddha use to convey them?
Doing a critical analysis means analyzing what the text says on a deeper level, explaining the text’s main themes and ideas as well as its worldview and underlying assumptions. Since these are religious texts, you will want to think about what kinds of religious questions this text explores. You may also want to consider what this text teaches you about Buddhism. In addition, doing a critical reading of a text requires asking not only ‘what is this text about?” but also “how does this text convey its ideas?” For example, you might want to think about how the authors use metaphors, analogies, or symbolism to convey certain truths. Thinking about what a text says and how it says it will enrich your analysis.
The point of this writing assignment is to focus on the text at hand. However, you should review your class notes and your secondary readings/textbook. It might help you analyze the text to read more about a particular concept in Buddhism or to locate that text in its historical context. In these cases, you may use additional research materials.
Make sure to support whatever you say in your paper with evidence. Evidence of a critical analysis paper consists of QUOTES taken directly from the text. Citation for these quotes should be parenthetical with a Works Cited page at the end.
Do not necessarily let the text’s structure dictate the structure of your paper. A college essay has different conventions than a religious story. Think about the text’s main ideas and how they are related to each other. Then, structure your paper around these themes.
I will evaluate your papers both on the quality of your ideas and the clarity of their expression. Try to remember that writing is COMMUNICATION and that you need to express your thoughts in a way that is intelligible to others. I strongly recommend writing multiple drafts of the paper before submitting the final version for a grade. Often, ideas that we have in our heads are not fully fleshed out until we try to communicate them in writing. It is the writing process itself that helps us hone and develop our thoughts. Even the Buddha had to sit under the bodhi tree for a long time before he came up with his first sermon! No one spits out a perfect first draft.
You should proofread your papers for the following issues:
-Grammar, spelling, and punctuation
-Are all titles and foreign terms italicized or underlined?
-Is the paper well organized? Does each paragraph contribute something new to the paper? Does each paragraph have one central idea?
-Do the paragraphs flow? Are there transitional statements and phrases that link the paragraphs?
-Does the introduction include a thesis explaining what the paper will be about?
-Does the conclusion sum up the paper’s main ideas?
-Do you develop your points by using explanations and evidence to support them?
-Are all the quotations clearly identified by quotation marks and are the page and/or verse numbers from the text provided?
-Are direct quotes longer than three lines single-spaced and indented?
This is the most serious academic offense a person can commit. Don’t do it. You will fail this class and be turned over to the disciplinary committee.
Make sure you cite ALL sources that you use for your ideas. If you paraphrase someone else’s ideas, you need to cite them. Direct quotes must be marked as such with quotation marks.
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