Pick one from the following topics or create your own. The essay must be a minimum of 1100 words and use size 12 Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Your goal is to work on efficiency and being as specific and direct as possible. Make sure you use MLA format for all types of quotations, citations, and Works Cited Page entries (At this point, you should not be making any formatting errors; five points will be deducted for each formatting error). Create your own original title for your paper, which means not using the author’s titles or rewording my questions. All papers must have some identifiable thesis/argument, specific examples to support that argument, and an enlightening conclusion. Remember to mention title of work and author in your intro if you choose a work we’ve read for class or any other work.1. Review my discussion of excellence, what the Greeks call aristoi. What is your perspective of excellence and how would you approach it? What would you do differently in order to achieve excellence? Does a meritocracy promote excellence? Be specific.2. What have we learned about the “narrative” of history versus the reality of history (consider the story of Columbus versus the “historicity” of Columbus)? How has this shaped the various tragedies and crises that plague us to this day? You might want to focus on an event, person, place, etc., concerning which there has been illusion, misrepresentation, or outright fiction with regards to its “history”. What is the disparity between the fiction and the reality?3. What is dangerous about habit and complicity? How do everyday citizens participate in the destruction of their fellow human beings, and how has this behavior become habit-forming? Consider Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave.” Why aren’t there enough people, leaders, or those who empathize setting an example or if they do exist, why aren’t they being set forth as good examples. Analyze our propensity to support leadership that reuses, regurgitates, and disseminates rhetoric and laws that allow for the abuse of destitute peoples.4. Choose a topic that discusses the nature of being. You may want to consider Crane’s poem “A Man Said to the Universe” or even the film After the Dark. One’s identity, self-defining moments, decisions and resolutions clearly affect us but also how we project ourselves upon others. Are you comfortable with who you are, why you’re here? Do you know what you need to do? Obviously, this is an existential topic that deserves a good deal of self-analysis, so give it the seriousness and attention it deserves and not some generic reflection on the self.5. Consider what Cooper says about climate change in “Cherry Blossoms.” He seems to find whatever hope there is in the little things. Is this enough? Enough to get us through the day? Or the rest of our lives? Can we actively do anything to slow the changing of the planet down? Is there some sort of symbol that you can think of to give us hope (like Cooper’s cherry blossom symbol)?

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