Feed on

Second Essay Assignment

“The Specter that Haunts McAdams”

All of this talk about “fake news” has become a specter haunting my life. I cannot sleep. Since I am a great believer in living within the truth, I decide to comfort myself by inviting two great thinkers to one of my famous soirées. Because you were such an insightful guest at my last repas, I invite you to join the conversation.

At first, Marx and Havel devote themselves to marveling over the fact that I have brought them back to life. (You are not surprised at all). But then I get to the point, asking my guests to comment on their views about the pursuit of truth.

Marx responds first.  “You are well aware of my position,” he begins.  “As a close reading of my work, the Communist Manifesto, will show, I have been consistently committed to speaking the truth. My views were simply twisted and distorted by the so-called Marxist regimes that came after me.” Havel immediately bristles at Marx’s response.  “My dear Karl,” he declares, with a hint of condescension, “your ideas have nothing to do with truth-telling.  Thus, it is no wonder that they appealed to people who would prefer that we ‘live within a lie.’”

You have been quietly listening to this conversation.  But you instinctively know what will happen next.  True to form, I turn to you. “So, my friend, what do you think about Havel’s claim?  Is he being fair to Marx?  And please don’t give me an equivocal response. I will hold you responsible for the quality of my sleep tonight!”


Assignment: Please respond to this question in an essay of no more than 4 pages.  Your response should be typed, double-spaced, and use 12 point font.

We will evaluate your essay according to four criteria:

  1. Your understanding of what Marx and Havel are fighting about.
  2. The clarity and consistency of your argument, and your ability to take counterarguments into account.
  3. Your direct use of your readings to back up your points concretely.
  4. And, importantly, your demonstrated ability to think for yourself.

I have no objection if you want to discuss this assignment with your classmates.  However, your essay must be absolutely, totally, irrefutably, and unmistakably your own work.  Remember the Honor Code!

As always, I have advice.

  1. Read this assignment closely the moment you receive it. If you allow its elements to percolate in your head for a while, you will find that they all flow together.
  2. Do not put this assignment off until the last moment. If you do so, you will not be a happy camper and neither will we.
  3. Seek the advice and counsel of both your TA and me.  We will each read your intro paragraph and the first sentence of your second paragraph.
  4. Visit the writing center. It’s entirely rational to consult with someone about how to write better.

You have a week to complete this assignment.  Due to the Easter break, I am posting this question two days earlier than I normally would.  Please turn in your essay to your respective TA no later than Noon on Wednesday, March 28.

Good luck!


Comments are closed.