Aesthetics and Sustainability

The next writing project will be due Sat. Oct. 12 at 4 p.m.

It will be a 700-word reflection on Aesthetics and Sustainability (that’s approximately 2 pages double-spaced, but use the word count, and meet that minimum without exceeding 720 words including the bibliography).

Please focus on how aesthetics can be a factor and/or a hindrance to sustainability, as found in The Lord of the Rings, and on how/whether that sense of aesthetics in Tolkien’s fantasy can be related to the biblical background of the book.

You should draw on our readings in Dickerson and Evans, Davies, and/or Schumacher, and in The Lord of the Rings anywhere between the fight at Weathertop to the end of Book 2. Since this is a short reflection, please don’t try to cover all of the Tolkienian and other readings, but focus on no more than a couple key passages from each as examples to analyze.

Please structure your writing as follows:

1. Introductory paragraph

2. Paragraph or two of close reading of first focus passage from LotR.

3. Paragraph or two of close reading of second focus passage from LotR.

4. Conclusion

We’ll workshop the above “close reading” structure in our seminar.

This assignment should be posted on your blog but will involve using MLA Style and a Works Cited page rather than hyperlinks. (MLA style involves parenthetical citation (Davies 13) and a bibliography entitled Works Cited. For details see

Rules for late work and accommodations are on the syllabus; you will be able to re-write once, if it receives a passing grade, for up to 10 points more than your initial grade on a 1-100 scale.

In your reflection, you’ll want to use a style of an introductory paragraph with a thesis, and body paragraphs each with a topic sentence and at least one source citation. So this will be more formal than the Wikipedia-style assignment, but you’ll also want to avoid the first person (I or we). Avoid a five-paragraph theme model; don’t indicate your points in the beginning and then go through them in the body. Instead, try to weave your focus into the structure through the thesis and topic sentences, as indicated below.

A basic structure for the opening paragraph

  1. Begin with a specific word-picture example from one of the primary texts (the Bible or LotR).
  2. No later than the third sentence get to your thesis.
  3. After your thesis, include a couple backup sentences supporting it with points of evidence and citations.
  4. End the paragraph with a “statement of significance”: why your reader should care.

The thesis sentence should include two declarations linked by a “because” or “so/thus/therefore” conjunction. (This is called an enthymeme in Classical rhetoric.)

Body paragraphs should start with either the topic sentence or a specific example, but should get to the topic sentence by the second sentence.

The topic sentence of each body paragraph should have a clear link back to the opening thesis sentence. It should be structured similarly.

At the sentence level of writing, please follow Orwell’s rules of writing as discussed in class and posted on the seminar blog (active sentences and shorter words when possible, etc.).

Please be in touch with any questions, and feel free to schedule an appointment while you are working on your writing.

Grading rubric:


Focus on aesthetics in philosophical and religious terms, following the prompt  25

Introductory paragraph 25

Effectiveness of two close readings and their relation to your thesis 40

Use of source, citations, and editing 10


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