Ragtime, Rags & Parade

Consider the following questions, answer thoroughly in essay form 1,000 words, double-spaced quoting the TEXT: 

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How did late twentieth century American Jews, approaching a new century, choose to view the jewish experience at the beginning of their own century? 

To what degree did their later perspectives color those earlier events? 

And to what degree did those initial immigrant hopes and aspirations, sold to them as the “American Dream,” encouraging them to adopt American behavior and customs, actually come to fruition? 

Was this earlier negotiated deal deemed successful in the eyes of their end of the century descendants? 

Were  late 20th century Jews sufficiently secure as Americans to consider the Dream’s possible failures as well as indulge in an on going desire for it to be true?

Did the realities of their 20th century experience in fact live up to the aspirations of their fantasies even as they were approaching a new millennium?


Provide some provisional answers to those questions for the three plays we considered. Use relevant quotations from our primary texts (the plays: when you quote a song, just refer to the title of it: for example, “Children of the Wind,” R; or “Wheels of a Dream,” RT, or “How Can I Call This Home,” P;  if you quote the librettos, provide the source – R, RT, P and the page #) and from our secondary sources (Hecht, the videos, other pages you had to read – make sure you identify them in a way that it is possible for me to understand what they are – no need to ‘document’ in MLA style at all. For Hecht, use the critic’s last name and page # for the chapter we read).

Make sure you organize your thoughts and what you want to say before you write, Pick and choose your battles. (A few, representative battles, I would say.) Make sure your page is organized: that you have an introduction (where you state the problem you will be discussing), a body of evidence and explanations for your entry, and a conclusion. “Evidence” is important – please DO use your sources! Show you can quote the lexicon, specific passages, etc. etc. Remember that quotations are not self-explanatory. Use them judiciously and make sure you explain what they mean, why you believe they are important for your thesis.

Finally: remove all instances in which you say “I think” “I believe” “I feel” etc. – your entry must be as objective as possible. You are the expert on the subject. Convince your reader.


Minimum length: 1,000 words. (Please do not exceed 1,500 or 2,000 words in length. You may have a lot of things to say, but the activity is also about being able to synthesize as much as possible. 1,000 words or a bit more should really be sufficient.)


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