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Cultural Geography Book Report – Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Paper details:
There is one extensive essay assigned in this course. Preparation for the essay consists of reading one of the novels listed on the syllabus. The essay then provides a thoughtful and reflective response to the messages of the novel, while also weaving in the concepts in cultural geography that we are learning about. The substance of the essay will vary depending on your interests and the content of the book selected.

The purpose of the essay is for you to experience culture, gain greater insights into different cultures, understand how culture unfolds within place, and apply geographic ideas or concepts we are learning in this class. In order to make the deeper connections, you will need to do background research into the places where the stories take place, learn what really happened in those places, and how the characters you read about help you understand what it means to live in those places.

As you read, pay attention to what grabs you, what makes you think or surprises you. These are the stories/situations/circumstances you can use to build your essay. I want to see your ideas and opinions, in a well articulated essay.

The essay is worth 30 points. The format and structure of the essay is as follows:


Introduction: Essay must present a major argument or purpose. Present up front what it is you will be doing in your essay and why it is interesting. (5 points)

Summary: The summary should be a short, to the point, general recounting of what went on in the book (enough to convince me that you actually read the book). (5 points).

Background: The purpose of this section is for you to gain a better understanding of the real world context–historical, political, cultural, economic, social, and geopolitical–within which the story takes place.You will need to conduct research and find three sources that help you understand the places mentioned in the novel you have chosen. You may use the CIA Factbook (google it), https://www.britannica.com/, wikipedia.org or the like as one source, but you must research, cite and reference two additional sources of information. You may also use the textbook as an additional source, but not as one of the three required sources. Information presented in the background section should be relevant to the overall points of the essay (5 points)

Reading and Thinking: This section must be at least a full page in length. Show me that you were thinking about cultural geography and how it applies to what you are reading. This part of the paper should be your thoughts (you can use the pronoun I). Feel free to state your opinions but make sure you can support (backup) what you think or feel. You will be graded on how actively engaged you were with the reading and how well you can link concepts learned and discussed in class with those brought up in the reading. Time and thought should go into essay construction. Do not comment on writing style or whether you liked or disliked the book. (15 points)

Introduction, Summary, Background takes up the first paragraph(s) or so.

Reading and Thinking takes up the next several paragraphs..

Additional requirements:

Images: Find and copy four images (pictures) from the internet of the places (countries, cities, etc) mentioned in the reading. Include links to where you found the photo. Identify the places shown with captions. (minus one point for every image missing).

Map: Go to https://geoalliance.asu.edu/maps/world and print a blank map that is appropriate for this assignment. Color or fill in all the countries mentioned in the reading. (minus 2 points for missing map)


Factual errors – 2 points off per error
Missing images and/or map – 1-2 points off per missing image/map
Missing citations (sources) – 2 points off per missing source
Plagiarism taking (ideas, writings, etc.) from (another) and passing them off as one’s own. The essay will receive a 0.
Things to avoid:

Papers that are one long paragraph — This usually means you are discussing too many ideas, none of which are well developed. Better to have one idea you wish to talk about in a paragraph, then use the paragraph to elaborate on that idea through examples.
Long quotes that fill up space but do not demonstrate your ideas.