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Assignment 1 – Karl Marx
Write a 5-page, double-spaced (12-point font) response to the following prompt (feel free to go a bit over 5 pages):
What was Marx’s most significant/interesting contribution to our understanding of society and history? Use any three of the four original Week 2 readings in your answer.
This is an open-ended prompt that allows you to pick a theme that runs through multiple readings and explore it in some depth. There is no ‘right answer.’ Cite the readings in-text like this: German Ideology as (GI, pg #); Alienated Labor as (AL, pg#); Communist Manifesto as (CM, pg #); Capital as (C, pg #). You may also cite the Ritzer (Ritzer, pg #); Royce (Royce, pg #); or my lecture (Professor, date), to supplement your response. Cite all sources as needed and do not reproduce more than 4 consecutive words from a source without quoting. The assignment is being checked for plagiarism, and the University’s academic honesty regulations apply.
Structure: Introduce your essay with a brief (~1/2 page) background on Marx’s work, life, or ideas. This should culminate in a 1-2 sentence thesis statement that encapsulates your answer to the prompt, expressing what you consider the core Marxist insight/contribution. WRITE YOUR THESIS IN BOLD. The remainder of your essay should consist of body paragraphs (1/2-3/4 page), each of which elaborates on how this Marxist contribution manifests itself in the original readings you’ve chosen. Begin each body paragraph with a strong analytical topic sentence that indicates the paragraph’s argument and is connected to the thesis.
Grading: You’ll be graded on two criteria – argumentative cogency (how interesting, sophisticated, and well organized your argument is), and textual engagement (how systematically you engage/cite the original sources). The assignment will be worth exactly 1/3 of your final grade. Typically, the strongest papers will establish deeper analytical connections across the various readings chosen (best expressed in thesis/topic sentences), while more mediocre papers will do a solid job with each reading but not connect them to each other very convincingly.