Essay #2: Curating Beloved

In Beloved, there are moments or occurrences that characters believe—and readers understand—have ramifications throughout the story. When we talk about these moments, we might say that the story would not have happened, or not in the way it did, had this event not occurred. For Essay 2, choose one of these moments from Beloved and argue for its centrality. That is, create a thesis statement that justifies why you claim this moment or occurrence is key for the novel, and support that thesis statement throughout your essay with quotations from the novel that you  apply the five-step method to in order to use those quotations as evidence in your argument. In your essay, you are arguing for the significance of the moment not only in how it contributes to the plot, but also characterization, theme, tone, and as it gets told with different character-focalizers, narration style.


To organize your essay:

  • take time for focused freewriting and note-taking before you start writing the essay;
  • begin the essay with an introduction that identifies your topic and narrows to your thesis statement, which should be specific and should suggest an organization for the essay (but remember that this might not be the first paragraph you write);
  • provide a thorough application of the five-step method for incorporating quotations for the central moment you’re writing about;
  • draw a connection to three to five other passages that relate back to your chosen moment and use the five-step method for that as well.


Your essay will:

  • interest your colleagues in ENG 2001 and others interested in Beloved
  • be 1000-1500 words (4-5 pages);
  • use MLA formatting for the page layout, in-text citations, and a works cited page (especially since we have different printings of the novel)
  • be carefully proofread, achieving accuracy with spelling, punctuation, character names, locations, quotation formatting, word usage, sentence structure, and overall clarity.



Then … Beloved OpenLab Gallery!


With a novel as creative as Beloved, let’s let it inspire us. For the creative portion of this assignment, now that you have become an expert on the passage you wrote about in your essay, re-imagine that passage in another medium. That is, ask yourself what it would be if it were freed from the novel and given a life as a painting, a song, a photograph, a video, an graphic representation of the text—there are many possibilities—and then create that! This is your chance to shine, or to learn a new tool or skill!


Along with your creative rendition of the scene, you will write a curatorial comment, approximately 200-300 words, to give visitors to our Beloved OpenLab Gallery an explanation of your work, details about its production or medium, and any other important pieces of background information to better understand the work on display. You do not need a lengthy summary of the novel, although you might need to include a sentence or two orienting a viewer to the novel and to the specific moment.

We will gather a list of suggested media for this project, but keep in mind that it can be as high-tech or as low-tech as you like—though you do need to post it on our OpenLab site (category “Gallery”). Refer to the copy of this assignment on our OpenLab site for suggestions of other media and tools—and please use the comment function there to make suggestions for the class.


Schedule of upcoming due dates and events:

4/29: bring your chosen passage to class on a page I can collect (5 points)

5/1: bring your introduction with thesis statement to class (5 points)

5/6: Essay 1and retelling due on OpenLab, cateGory “Anthology” (30 points)

5/8: bring a complete draft of the essay to class (10 points)

5/13: final version of Essay 2 due in our Dropbox (100 points)

5/15: Gallery piece and curatorial note due on our OpenLab site (50 points)

5/15: review for final exam

5/20: Final Exam

5/22: Beloved OpenLab Gallery opening celebration (and our last day of class)


Grading: See above for point values. Total of the point values=170 points, so 17% of your course grade. This is reduced from 20% so that 3% can be awarded for finishing our Retelling Anthology project—more instructions for that posting to come on Monday



4 thoughts on “Essay #2: Curating Beloved

  1. Borrow from poetry some more: use the idea of a diastic, a process of creating a smaller text from a larger text using a line from that larger text and looking for words in the larger text that correspond with the letters in that line. You can even use an eDiastic automatic generator. Choose a line that is important in the moment in Beloved you’re writing about, and add that in as the seed text, then paste in the entire novel from the full text, and let the site generate a text for you. Once you have it, you can arrange what those words should look like on the page. In your curatorial comment, you’ll have to say more about it than “I used a machine to make this”–that is, you’ll want to think of what it does, or how it represents your line in the context of the novel.

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