Instructions How to Write

Love and Hydrogen by Jim Shepard

Several of the texts we have read up to this point—or will read very soon—have to do not only with the question of what it means to love someone, but also the obstacles that such love encounters, both within a relationship and without. Whether they are fictional accounts of loving relationships at different points in history—as with “Love and Hydrogen” by Jim Shepard and “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx—or with nonfictional attempts at directly articulating some important feature of love—as with “Love Is Not Algorithmic” by Jim Kozubek or “The Love of My Life” by Cheryl Strayed—these four texts all are, in some important way, about the nature of love, and how that nature either runs into—or creates—problems.

In an essay that analyzes three of the above readings, discuss the insights offered into the challenges that come with the experience of loving someone or being in love, as well as how your three chosen authors present those insights. Your essay should primarily focus on synthesizing the ideas of the readings; that is, putting them in conversation with each other.

You can take your essay in any direction that answers the above question, but here are some more specific questions you can use as a guide for your essay: to what extent and in what ways does one’s environment affect a loving relationship? What happens when someone’s experience of love is at odds with the sociocultural norm? To what extent can one’s environment create tensions within a loving relationship? How can one loving relationship negatively impact others one has? Does love have limits? Is the inability to wholly connected with a loved one a feature or a bug of love? Do any of the four authors have a radically different view of love from the others? How does point-of-view affect how love is presented in the above texts (ie, close first-person memoir for Strayed, distant first-person for Kozubek, close third-person for Proulx, omniscient third-person for Shepard)?

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