Humanities 110

Introduction to the Humanities

Paper Topics | Fall 2019 | Paper 2

Due Saturday, October 12, 5:00 p.m., in your conference leader’s Eliot Hall mailbox.

Target length: 1,500 words

1. At Genesis 18:12, Sarah laughs.  Shortly thereafter (18:13), the Lord asks Abraham (not Sarah) why she laughed; and soon after that (18:15), Sarah denies having laughed while the Lord insists that she did indeed laugh.  What is going on here?  Specifically, what do these passages tell us about Chapter 18 as a whole, and how does Chapter 18 inform our understanding of Genesis as a whole?  In developing an interpretation, you may want to consider some of the following: the text's conception of truth, knowledge, the public and the private, sex, gender, secrecy and communication, trust and suspicion, fear and security, faith and covenant, or the relationship of the divine to the human.

2. How is gender portrayed in the selections from Egyptian love lyric that you have been assigned and in the texts/monuments of Hatshepsut? Keep in mind the purpose, audience, and medium of each text. Choose at least one poem and either Hatshepsut’s obelisk inscription or her birth/coronation narrative. The goal of your discussion is not simply to enumerate similarities and differences between the two texts but to use the comparison to deepen our understanding of both works. 

3. Compare the ways in which the Obelisk Inscription of Hatshepsut and the Cyrus Cylinder make a case for the legitimacy of a ruler. What might the differences tell us about the Egyptian and Persian conceptions of authority? (Remember that Hatshepsut’s obelisk was located in an Egyptian temple in Karnak and was intended for an Egyptian audience and that the Cyrus Cylinder was intentionally buried in the foundations of the city wall of Babylon after the city was captured, and the text of the cylinder circulated broadly across the Persian Empire.)