One-Paragraph Responses to The Handmaid’s Tale (15%)
As per the instructions in your course outline and as discussed in class and in tutorial, answer one of the following two questions. Submit your response at the beginning of tutorial on Thursday, February 13th. Your answer must be typewritten, double-spaced, with sufficient margins for commentary (with no cover page or binding of any sort). See the syllabus for formatting guidelines.
For this assignment, write one paragraph that answers one of the two questions below. USE NO MORE THAN FIVE TO SEVEN SENTENCES FOR YOUR ANSWER (i.e., approx. one paragraph of typical length). Answers that exceed these limits will not be read.
Write in grammatically coherent and concise sentences that corrects any errors you were alerted to in feedback on your pervious Crazy Rich Asians paragraph. Specific examples make your answer as analytical and precise as possible, so include direct quotes and/or paraphrases with in-text citations. Carefully edit your work before submission. Engl 1040 Reading Pop Culture Assignment
Some scholars argue that The Handmaid’s Tale is a feminist novel that warns us about what could happen if we do not fight to maintain women’s rights to freedom and choice. Other scholars are more ambivalent about the novel’s feminist politics, and contend that Offred has little or no real agency: all she wants is to return to the previous status quo, a gentler kind of patriarchy. This makes Offred a complex narrator: it is unclear if we should see her as a rebellious hero or a passive victim. As Haslam explains via Laura Mulvey’s theory of the gaze in film (Thinking Popular Culture, 187-9) and Susan Bordo’s work on normative representations of female bodies (190-3), popular culture’s representations of women can either reinforce or challenge patriarchal power. Read pp. 128-9 of The Handmaid’s Tale where Offred is in the birthmobile, and consider her representations of women’s bodies in this scene: do these representations challenge Gilead’s patriarchal beliefs, or does Offred accept and reproduce patriarchal ideologies about the female body here? Engl 1040 Reading Pop Culture Assignment
One major argument The Handmaid’s Tale makes is that our rights are not guaranteed: they can be taken from us. We can lose them. Feminist politics has, with each wave (described in Thinking Popular Culture, 177-86), questioned essentialist beliefs about gender used to deny women rights and equality. This includes the belief women were too emotional and illogical to be legal persons (first wave feminism), the belief that men’s cultural and material dominance over women was natural (second wave feminism), and the belief that all women are fundamentally the same (third wave feminism). Each of these anti-essentialist arguments about gender aim to expand rights and freedoms, so how does Gilead justify returning to essentialist notions of gender that purposefully limit women’s freedom? Use evidence from pp. 61-3, where Offred reflects on her life before becoming a handmaid as well as Aunt Lydia’s lessons at the Red Centre, as the basis for your answer. Engl 1040 Reading Pop Culture Assignment