How to Tame a Wild Tongue
So far this semester we’ve read essays that, in their own ways, examine the power of language as it relates to identity, in both a personal and historical framework. Wether it’s the way that specificity in word choice can help to uncover unrepresented narratives, as in the Nikole Hannah – Jones’s 1619 Project, the way that identity can be shaped by living with multiple languages, in Gloria Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” or the significant social consequences that lie between two conflicting ideas in Miriame Kaba’s “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police.”
For this paper, please choose from the following prompts:
1. In 2009, the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TED talk titled “The Danger of a Single Story.” In it, she argues that telling a single story – only one narrative, or perspective – can lead to critical misunderstandings. In her talk she says:
It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is “nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali. How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.
Think about the texts we’ve read this semester in relation to Ngozi Adichie’s statement. For your paper, choose one text (it can be any that we’ve read so far this semester) and analyze the way in which the author is working against the telling of a single story. In your paper, you need make a claim that your chosen text is arguing against the idea of a single story in a specific way.
Here is Ngozi Adichie’s lecture if you’d like to listen to it in its entirety: The Danger of a Single Story
2. Gloria Anzaldúa’s essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” comes out of her book titled Borderlands/La Frontera. In another chapter of the book, she writes:
In looking at this book that I’m almost finished writing, I see a mosaic pattern (Aztec-like) emerging, a weaving pattern, thin here, thick there…This almost finished product seems an assemblage, a montage, a beaded work with several leitmotifs and with a central core, now appearing, now disappearing in a crazy dance. The whole thing has had a mind of its own, escaping me and insisting on putting together the pieces of its own puzzle with minimal direction from my will. It is a rebellious, willful entity, a precocious girl-child fired to grow up too quickly, rough, unyielding, with pieces of feather sticking out here and there, fur, twigs, clay. My child, but not for much longer. This female is angry, sad, joyful, is Coutlicue, dove, horse, serpent, cactus. Though it is a flawed thing — clumsy, complex, groping, blind thing, for me it is alive, infused with spirit. I talk to it; it talks to me.
As you know, Anzaldúa writes using a variety styles and forms, and as she says in the quote above, she sees a “mosiac pattern” emerging from the text.
Write a paper in which you argue your view of the purpose of breaking out of a “traditional” essay form. Think about the way that Anzaldúa’s style is in direct conversation with her ideas about identity, language, borders, and voice.
While this prompt is fairly open ended – your thesis (as always!) needs to be specific. Indicate a specific way that the form of the essay is interacting with the content of the essay.
If you choose this prompt, and would like to talk it over with me, don’t hesitate to set up a meeting.
Please use standard MLA formatting for your paper. 12 point font, double spaced, Times New Roman Font.
Length: 750 – 1000 words
Your essay should have a strong thesis statement, which is supported by the body paragraphs of your essay. You must use evidence from the text, in the form of summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation.
Development: Thesis Statement, use of quotations and evidence
Organization: Topic Sentences, paragraph structures, transition sentences
Original and Critical Thought: Depth of thinking, original ideas, clarity of writing
Although these criteria inform each other (for example, it is difficult to develop a disorganized paper), I will focus on each part in evaluating your paper to explain your grade. Here is how I define each criterion:
Organization: A well-organized paper has a clear direction followed throughout. The paper has a coherent and unified structure, with the paragraphs addressing individual points which are nevertheless connected to the central point, or thesis, of the essay, as well as connected to the points before and after that paragraph. Sentences are connected and flow smoothly within the paragraphs.
Development: A well-developed paper contains enough descriptions, details, and examples to develop the thesis. You should support your thesis with evidence from the text in a clear and straightforward way. The reader should be able to clearly see your central point in detail after finishing the paper.
Original and Critical Thought: This criterion evaluates how effectively and originally you responded to the given assignment. Did you fully answer the queries asked? Were you able to provide original analytical arguments to support your stance? Did you consider the issue from many angles (analysis) or effectively connect different points of view or perspectives (synthesis)?