Written Assignments

The Egyptian Underworld


Web Resources for This Assignment

The Egyptian Underworld
An imagemap of the Egyptian Underworld; select elements of the picture in order to get an explanation of their meaning.
Thinking in Theses
How to conceive of information in terms of arguments and theses.

Egyptian Underworld Discussion Quiz

   The purpose of this internet discussionquiz is to develop a creative and informed argument derived from knowledge that you've selected. Go to the page on Egyptian Underworld, and examine the picture there. The picture is an imagemap, which means that if you point the cursor at any element of the picture and click the mouse, you will get an explanation of the meaning of that symbol or cultural practice. I want you to explore around the meanings of that picture, and then develop a creative argument in which you relate the elements and their meaning to one another. In this first discussion quiz, I'd like you to respond to previous answers but I don't want you to develop your thesis as a response to someone else's answer.

   Check this out. When an ancient Egyptian saw this picture, she saw everything you're seeing. All those definitions of the symbols, she understood. But while for you those symbols are all unrelated, for her they made up a coherent whole. In other words, she saw them all as related to one another. Rather than a whole bunch of symbols, she saw one meaningful picture made up of these symbols.

   I've purposely resisted the temptation to show how these symbols fit together (yes, I did this imagemap—I've studied Egyptian iconography and hieroglyphics for many years and I don't think I've had more fun in my teaching life than deciphering this picture!). What I'm looking for here is for you to take all these bits of information on the symbols, bits of information that don't seem related, and put them together into a coherent whole. That's the exercise. Can you relate a diversity of information together into a single perspective?

Grading

   You will be graded primarily on developing a coherent thesis that is both creative and that relates the diverse information and meanings in the picture into a coherent whole. We will comment on how you select information (did you ignore most of the picture? are you including information or interpretation that doesn't relate to your argument?). There is, however, no right or wrong answer; in fact, unless you study Egyptology for a few years, I don't expect you to come up with the right answer. Your first job is to come up with a coherent, creative thesis; your second job is to defend that thesis by selecting relevant information from the imagemap and relating to other relevant information from the imagemap.

Thinking in Theses

   The purpose of this exercise is to help you start thinking of information in relationship to theses. There is attached to this exercise a short learning skills assignment on theses. Earlier you learned how to think in topics, now you should expand your view by thinking in arguments.

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