Analytical essay.

Write an analytical essay of 1300 to 1600 words (about 5-7 pages, but not including notes and works cited/bibliography, adjudged SOLELY by word count) on the two following topic. The question you will need to take a position on is in boldface so it is easy to pick out. Be sure to have a clear and coherent thesis statement addressing the bolded question, and make effective use of as much of our assigned reading and film as possible–not just one or two things! Be sure to present a clearly organized case with proper citations for everything that’s not directly from lecture. There are no necessarily right or wrong answers, only well-supported or poorly-supported ones. Yes, it’s perfectly all right to question our premises, so long as you demonstrate your knowledge in the process!

The movie that you have to watch and cite is: dani kouyate keita heritage of the griot (google it because you have to cite it as stated above)


The Islam practiced in Mali in the mid-1300s varied from that of North Africa and Arabia both in the way it was practiced (highly syncretic) and its pervasiveness in society (weak outside the cities). Looking at the Epic of Sundiata and the visit of Ibn Battuta together with Shillington and related material, were “Islamic” or “non-Islamic” cultural and social practices more important to the Empire of Mali in the 1300s, and why? Keep in mind that Mali’s level of syncretism means these two categories are somewhat fluid, so you will need to define them (or argue against the categories’ validity if you wish—there’s a lot of room for argument). Our major source for “proper” Islamic practice is the rather uptight Ibn Battuta, and some non-Islamic elements so prominent in variations of the oral Epic of Sundiata were important to rule right through the era under study. Therefore you should consider Battuta’s evaluation of Islamic practice in Malian society (and its neighbors) as well as the qualities ascribed to rulership and society in Niane’s transcription and Kouyaté’s film. Yes, you may hearken back to Wagadu and earlier Islamic expansion if useful.
Pay attention to format and tender notes on the front page: essay must be double‐spaced, with roughly 1” margins and page numbers.

This is a formal essay, but any style guide you prefer is all right to use provided that you are consistent, and that you cite your text sources clearly and well–not just for direct quotes, but any information you use. You do not need to cite lecture material, as we know what that contains and it’s ‘shared knowledge’ for us. Bear in mind too that the paper’s length is judged by word count without footnotes/references or bibliography, using Microsoft Word’s built-in tool. If you fall short of 1300, the limitation in what you can cover will be harmful enough. Going over the word limit is tolerated within reason (up to 10%) but may result in markdowns if much beyond that.

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