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Lindsay G.
College Writing and Literature Instructor
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Literature
TutorMe
Question:

What is the significance of TS Eliot’s The Wasteland and how was it written?

Lindsay G.
Answer:

TS Eliot’s The Wasteland (published 1922) is a highly complex poem of the Modernist movement. The poem is heavily concerned with the themes of death and broken intimacy upon a landscape of wasted expectations. Eliot wrote the poem following horrors of World War One and the Spanish Flu, which influenced the writing, setting, and the structure. The poem is significant in that it expresses not only the mood of its time but the experimental spirit of the Modernist era. Previous to World War One, poets composed their content in strict forms such as sonnets and villanelles; these forms were influenced by classical education and served as both a test of quality for the poem and the poet’s status. After the devastation of World War One, many artists no longer felt the need to abide by the social, cultural, and political conventions of the past (since the tensions of those long-kept traditions had, in part, caused the war). Artists in all forms of art began to experiment with alternative, freer expressions: in music, jazz was invented; in visual arts, cubism rose into prominence. In this scene, TS Eliot’s free verse poem is one among many within a larger context. He composes scenes so that the reader will gain an emotional impression from the description, rather than a linear narrative so that the reader can understand a story as in previous era’s poems. However, Eliot does not entirely abandon the past, since his poem creates his impressions using both strong and subtle literary allusions to the classical tradition, such as Chaucer, the Fisher King, and Dante. He brings a fresh perspective by uniting these images with eastern mysticism from his personal obsession with the Upanishad, through which his images connect Christ and Buddha, and the quest for Dante’s heaven with the Hindu aspiration for generosity, compassion, and self-control. The Wasteland is significant because its themes helped the break from traditional verse forms into the artistic experimentation of the 20th century. The poem is highly emotional and imagistically dense. Each reader will, in a word, gain a different meaning from a reading since the poem was meant to create an impression of sound and rhythm and music, beyond just the content of a poem. In this case, Eliot truly was a landmark and genius poet.

English
TutorMe
Question:

What is the difference between a three-paragraph essay and an argumentative essay and how does an author write one?

Lindsay G.
Answer:

Early writing courses often teach that essays should be written using three-point paragraphs which collate relevant data and information in relevant paragraphs for the reader. A strong introduction and conclusion allow a reader to understand the context of those paragraphs. While writing a persuasive argument essay, however, the information in an essay should not be limited to the three-point paragraph model and neither should the information necessarily be organized only according to the source or category. Instead, the information be assessed for what is most useful in persuading a specific audience and what of that information is most powerful. The order of an argumentative essay should be structured with more complexity than a three-point essay. Often, a good argument essay will include a strong introduction / background, thesis, counterargument, argument, and conclusion. The introduction engages the audience through a strong and sometimes entertaining “hook.” This can be a personal narrative, though it needs to show how the topic is relevant to the audience. Included or in addition to the introduction, the background provides any information that will allow the audience to understand the context of the forthcoming arguments as well as the history of the debate. At this point, the process of argumentation may begin. The author must provide a strong thesis, stating his argument and a brief summary of reasons for his arguments. At this point, the author can begin the process of proving his arguments with proofs and data, however it is often useful to include a counterargument at this point in order to acknowledge other opinions. The author lists a strong alternative opinion or solution to the proposed thesis in addition to a succinct summary of proofs. After this, the author will explain why this solution is not as strong as his proposal, by pointing out the weaknesses in the argument. The author should be careful to respect the argument of the alternative side, however, in order to avoid a false dichotomy or a straw man fallacy. When the author presents his own argument, he should be careful to choose facts and data which support his side. The information should be presented in a way that will appeal to the audience, and he should order the arguments and their proofs (evidence that the arguments work) in order from weakest to strongest, so that the reader is left with a good impression of the thesis. Once the argument is complete, the author may conclude by reminding the audience how the argument is relevant to wider concerns (as in the introduction) and addressing how the main points of the author’s argument address those concerns. The argument essay varies widely from the three-point essay in that it is written towards a specific audience. Because of this, he information within the essay is structured differently in order to best persuade a reader.

European History
TutorMe
Question:

What was the cause of the Black Plague and how did it affect Europe?

Lindsay G.
Answer:

Originally it was thought that the Black Death (bubonic plague) of the 14th century was caused and spread by the bite of an infected flea. The flea was carried by rats on trade goods at this time from the orient into medieval Europe, which would have attributed to the wide swath of the plague. This answer has never been considered fully satisfactory because of the disease’s transmission pattern, since large areas of effect did not always correlate to trade routes. Recently research has alternatively explored whether the plague was at least partially bacterial or infectious in origin. The Black Death caused much upheaval in Europe, specifically in population, political, social, and cultural balances. At the height of its devastation, the plague killed 60% of the population of European and 20% of the population of Britain. The plague did not differentiate in class, age, gender, or social status, so significant sections of the feudal society were affected, and the plague created a vacuum of power and influence throughout Europe. Fourteenth century Europe saw landmark strides in architecture, art, and political and metaphysical philosophy, many of which could be due to the beginning of the end of the previous, strictly-defined feudal system and the rise of the middle class as an economic powerhouse. The devastation of the Black Death also, quite naturally, created a universal feeling of fear and anxiety in Europe at this time. During and following the plague, there were periods of religious, philosophical, and artistic explorations into the meaning of life and man’s place in the universe. Paired with the new social mobility of the middle class and the invention of the printing press in 1468, this existential consideration allowed space for movements such as the Lollards, medieval mystics, and the Scholastics to exchange ideas––or at least to be aware of one another. The social and cultural changes wrought from the Black Plague helped usher in the artistic scene of the Renaissance and the philosophical and religious movements of the Reformation.

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