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RUTGERS UNIVERSITY, NEW BRUNSWICK
TEXTUAL ANALYSIS EXERCISE
ROUGH DRAFT (500-700 words)
FINAL DRAFT (500-700 words)
Tuesday, 1/26/21, 11:30 a.m. (via Canvas)
Tuesday, 2/2/21, 11:59 a.m. (via Canvas)
Siebert, Charles. “An Elephant Crackup?,” The New Humanities Reader, 6th ed., edited by Richard E. Miller and
Kurt Spellmeyer, Cengage, 2019, 346-59.
Once you have finished reading Charles Siebert’s entire essay, carefully reread the passage reproduced on
the next page. Take notes as you do so, asking yourself the following questions in particular:
What question or problem is this passage exploring?
What are its KEY TERMS?
What broader implications might the ideas contained in the passage have for the text as a whole?
Then, reread the passage again. Do you need to add to any of the notes from the questions above?
Once you have taken thorough notes on each passage, complete the following pre-writing steps, including
the responses in your submitted rough draft:
1. List the FIVE most confusing words in the passage. Look up each word in your dictionary. Then,
paraphrase what each means within the passage.
2. Underline (and copy) the most confusing sentence. Write six to ten observations about this
sentence. For example: what are the KEY TERMS? Do any words have more than one meaning, or an
additional implicit meaning? How do the words connect to each other (are they opposites,
synonyms, etc.)? What are the transition words (if any)? Do they suggest a logical connection within
the sentence or between sentences? What words imply Siebert’s tone?
3. Now, put your observations into the context of the passage as a whole: how do the first and last
sentences relate to each other? How, in other words, do the ideas develop from the beginning of the
passage to the end?
Choose another paragraph from the article and repeat the three steps above with that passage.
Prompt: Using quotations from this passage and at least one other, produce AT LEAST TWO substantive
paragraphs of at least 250 words each in response to the following question: how could a “trans-species
psyche” enable, enhance, or inhibit anthropocentric thinking?
As you write, work to ANALYZE the ideas you encountered, while avoiding SUMMARY.
➢ ANALYSIS explores and explains; it says something new. It requires that we consider implications,
that we interpret the language and structure of a text. Analysis looks for patterns, dissects concepts,
and explores (rather than merely presenting) evidence. It asks (and answers!) HOW and WHY
RUTGERS UNIVERSITY, NEW BRUNSWICK
➢ SUMMARY reports on what has already been said. It generally asks and answers WHAT, WHERE,
WHEN, and WHO questions. Summary adds nothing new to the conversation.
The other part of our newly emerging compact with elephants, however, is far more difficult
to codify. It requires nothing less than a fundamental shift in the way we look at animals and,
by extension, ourselves. It requires what Bradshaw somewhat whimsically refers to as a new
“trans-species psyche,” a commitment to move beyond an anthropocentric frame of
reference and, in effect, be elephants. Two years ago, Bradshaw wrote a paper for the journal
Society and Animals, focusing on the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, a
sanctuary for orphaned and traumatized wild elephants—more or less the wilderness-based
complement to Carol Buckley’s trauma therapy at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The
trust’s human caregivers essentially serve as surrogate mothers to young orphan elephants,
gradually restoring their psychological and emotional well-being to the point at which they
can be reintroduced into existing wild herds. The human “allomothers” stay by their adopted
young orphans’ sides, even sleeping with them at night in stables. The caregivers make sure,
however, to rotate from one elephant to the next so that the orphans grow fond of all the
keepers. Otherwise an elephant would form such a strong bond with one keeper that
whenever he or she was absent, that elephant would grieve as if over the loss of another
family member, often becoming physically ill itself. (357)
SUCCESSFUL TEXTUAL ANALYSIS EXERCISE CHECKLIST
Your Textual Analysis Exercise should…
Consist of at least two substantive paragraphs, each of which begins with a topic sentence that
sets out the project of that paragraph
Identify at least one KEY TERM – a word or phrase that explores and explains HOW something
works. KEY TERMS are NOT examples; they are ideas that help us think more carefully about
Identify and quote AT LEAST TWO textual moments per paragraph that relate to your KEY TERM
These textual moments (usually a quotation) most likely will come from the two paragraphs
that you have been close reading; however, you may choose to incorporate a quotation
from elsewhere in the essay, which is fine.
Analyze your quoted moments, explaining how they help us better understand your KEY TERM
All evidence for your claims must come from the Siebert essay
Your Textual Analysis Exercise should NOT…
Summarize the passages (i.e., report what is said without adding anything new) at length
Attempt to address EVERYTHING in a passage (or in the author’s essay, for that matter!)
Reference non-textual examples (i.e., relate something you find in the text to something not in it)
Rely on factual quotations (i.e., quotations that merely report facts or examples; these will
feel like they could be said by anyone rather than only the author themself)
all life on earth, rather than as beings apart [from other species, or as] entities
anointed by some higher authority, the more the 'inter-species empathy'
I speak of ... will be allowed to flourish."
An Elephant Crackup?
"We're not going anywhere," my driver, Nelson Okello, whispered to me one
morning this past June, the two of us sitting in the front seat of a jeep just after
dawn in Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda. We'd originally stopped to observe what appeared to be a lone bull elephant grazing in a
patch of tall savanna grasses off to our left. More than one "rogue" crossed our
path that morning-a young male elephant that has made ~n overly st:ong
power play against the dominant male of his herd and been bamshed, sometunes
permanently. This elephant, however, soon proved to be not a rogue but part of
a cast of at least thirty. The ground vibrations registered just before the emergence of the herd from the surrounding trees and brush. We sat there watching
the elephants cross the road before us, seeming, for all their heft, so light on their
feet, soundlessly playing the wind-swept savanna grasses like land whales adrift
above the floor of an ancient, waterless sea.
Then from behind a thicket of acacia trees directly off our front left bumper, a hu~e female emerged-"the matriarch," Okello said softly. There was a
small calf beneath her, freely foraging and knocking about within the secure
cribbing of four massive legs. Acacia leaves are an elephant's favorite food, and
as the calf set to work on some low branches, the matriarch stood guard, her vast
back flank blocking the road, the rest of the herd milling about in the brush a
short distance away.
After fifteen minutes or so, Okello started inching the jeep forward, revving
the engine, trying to make us sound as beastly as possible. The matriarch, however, was having none of it, holding her ground, the fierce white of her eyes as
bright as that of her tusks. Although I pretty much knew the answer, I asked
Okello if he was considering trying to drive around. "No," he said, raising an
index finger for emphasis. "She'll charge. We should stay right here."
I'd have considered it a wise policy even at a more peaceable juncture in the
course of human-elephant relations. In recent years, however, those relations
have become markedly more bellicose. Just two days before I arrived, a woman
was killed by an elephant in Kazinga, a fishing village nearby. Two months earlier, a man was fatally gored by a young male elephant at the northern edge of
the park, near the village of Katwe. African elephants use their long tusks to
AN ELEPHANT CRACKUP?
forage through dense jungle brush. They've also been known to wield them,
however, with the ceremonious flash and precision of gladiators, pinning down
a victim with one knee in order to deliver the decisive thrust. Okello told me
that a young Indian tourist was killed in this fashion two years ago in Murchison
Falls National Park, just north of where we were.
These were not isolated incidents. All across Africa, India, and parts of
Southeast Asia, from within and around whatever patches and corridors of their
natural habitat remain, elephants have been striking out, destroying villages and
crops, attacking anq killing human beings. In fact, these attacks have become so
commonplace that a whole new statistical category, known as Human-Elephant
Conflict, or HEC, was created by elephant researchers in the mid-1990s to
monitor the problem. In the Indian state Jharkhand near the western border of
Bangladesh, 300 people were killed by elephants between 2000 and 2004. In the
past twelve years, elephants have killed 605 people in Assam, a state in northeastern India, 239 of them since 2001; 265 elephants have died in that same period,
the majority of them as a result of retaliation by angry villagers, who have used
everything from poison-tipped arrows to laced food to exact their revenge. In
Africa, reports of human-elephant conflicts appear almost daily, from Zambia to
Tanzania, from Uganda to Sierra Leone, where 300 villagers evacuated their
homes last year because of unprovoked elephant attacks.
Still, it is not only the increasing number of these incidents that is causing
alarm but also the singular perversity-for want of a less anthropocentric termof recent elephant aggression. Since the early 1990s, for example, young male
elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the Hluhluwe-Urnfolozi Game
Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing rhinoceroses; this abnormal
behavior, according to a 2001 study in the journal Pachyderm, has been reported
in "a number of reserves" in the region. In July of last year, officials in
Pilanesberg shot three young male elephants who were responsible for the killings of sixty-three rhinos, as well as attacks on people in safari vehicles. In Addo
Eleph~t National Park, also in South Africa, up to ninety percent of male elephant deaths are now attributable to other male elephants, compared with a rate
of six percent in more stable elephant communities.
In a corning book on this phenomenon, Gay Bradshaw, a psychologist at the
environmental sciences program at Oregon State University, notes that in India,
where the elephant has long been regarded as a deity, a recent headline in a
leading newspaper warned, "To Avoid Confrontation, Don't Worship
Elephants." "Everybody pretty much agrees that the relationship between elephants and people has dramatically changed," Bradshaw told me recently.
"What we are se·eing today is extraordinary. Where for centuries humans and
elephants lived in relative peaceful coexistence, there is now hostility and violence. Now, I use the term 'violence' because of the intentionality associated
with it, both in the aggression of humans and, at times, the recently observed
behavior of elephants."
For a number of biologists and ethologists who have spent their careers
studying elephant behavior, the attacks have become so abnormal in both number and kind that they can no longer be attributed entirely to the customary
factors. Typically, elephant researchers have cited, as a cause of aggression, the
high levels of testosterone in newly matured male elephants or the competition
for land and resources between elephants and humans. But in "Elephant Breakdown," a 2005 essay in the journal Nature, Bradshaw and several colleagues
argued that today's elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic
stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal
relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild,
and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now
witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.
It has long been apparent that every large, land-based animal on this planet is
ultimately fighting a losing battle with humankind. And yet entirely befitting of
an animal with such a highly developed sensibility, a deep-rooted sense of family
and, yes, such a good long-term memory, the elephant is not going out quietly.
It is not leaving without making some kind of statement, one to which scientists
from a variety of disciplines, including human psychology, are now beginning to
pay close attention.
Once the matriarch and her calf were a comfortable distance from us that
morning, Okello and I made the twenty-minute drive to Kyambura, a village at
the far southeastern edge of the park. Back in 2003, Kyambura was reportedly the
site of the very sort of sudden, unprovoked elephant attack I'd been hearing about.
According to an account of the event in the magazine New Sdentist, a number of
huts and fields were trampled, and the townspeople were afraid to venture out to
surrounding villages, either by foot or on their bikes, because elephants were regularly blocking the road and charging out at those who tried to pass.
Park officials from the Uganda Wildlife Authority with whom I tried to discuss the incident were reluctant to talk about it or any of the recent killings by
elephants in the area. Ecotourism is one of Uganda's major sources of income,
and the elephant and other wildlife stocks of Queen Elizabeth National Park are
only just now beginning to recover from years of virtually unchecked poaching
and habitat destruction. Tom Okello, the chief game warden at the park (and no
relation to my driver), and Margaret Driciru, Queen Elizabeth's chief veterinarian, each told me that they weren't aware of the attack in Kyambura. When
I mentioned it to the executive director of the wildlife authority, Moses Mapesa,
upon my initial arrival in the capital city, Kampala, he eventually admitted that it
did happen, but he claimed that it was not nearly as recent as reported. "That
was fourteen years ago," he said. "We have seen aggressive behavior from elephants, but that's a story of the past."
Kyambura did look, upon our arrival, much like every other small Ugandan
farming community I'd passed through on my visit. Lush fields of banana trees,
millet, and maize framed a small town center of pastel-colored, single-story
cement buildings with corrugated-tin roofs. People sat on stoops out front in
the available shade. Bicyclers bore preposterously outsize loads of bananas, firewood, and five-gallon water jugs on their fenders and handlebars. Contrary to
what I had read, the bicycle traffic along the road in and out of Kyambura
didn't seem impaired in the slightest.
AN ELEPHANT CRACKUP?
But when Okello and I asked a shopkeeper named Ibrah Byamukama about
elephant attacks, he immediately nodded and pointed to a patch of maize and
millet fields just up the road, along the edges of the surrounding Maramagambo
Forest. He confirmed that a small group of elephants charged out one morning
two years earlier, trampled the fields and nearby gardens, knocked down a few
huts, and then left. He then pointed to a long orange gash in the earth between
the planted fields and the forest: a fifteen-foot-deep, twenty-five-foot-wide
trench that had been dug by the wildlife authority around the perimeter
of Kyarnbura in an, attempt to keep the elephants at bay. On the way out of
town, Okello and I took a closer look at the trench. It was filled with stacks of
thorny shrubs for good measure.
"The people are still worried," Byarnukama said, shaking his head. "The
elephants are just becoming more destructive. I don't know why."
Three years ago, Gay Bradshaw, then working on her graduate degree in
psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute outside Santa Barbara, California,
began wondering much the same thing: was the extraordinary behavior of elephants in Africa aµ.d Asia signaling a breaking point? With the assistance of several established African-elephant researchers, including Daphne Sheldrick and
Cynthia Moss, and with the help of Allan Schore, an expert on human trauma
disorders at the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA,
Bradshaw sought to combine traditional research into elephant behavior with
insights about trauma drawn from human neuroscience. Using the few remaining relatively stable elephant herds in places like Amboseli National Park in
Kenya as control groups, Bradshaw and her colleagues analyzed the far more
:fractious populations found in places like Pilanesberg in South Africa and
Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. What emerged was a portrait of pervasive pachyderm dysfunction.
Elephants, when left to their own devices, are profoundly social creatures.
A herd of them is, in essence, one incomprehensibly massive elephant: a somewhat loosely bound and yet intricately interconnected, tensile organism. Young
elephants are raised within an extended, multitiered network of doting female
caregivers that includes the birth mother, grandmothers, aunts, and :friends.
These relations are maintained over a life span as long as seventy years. Studies of
established herds have shown that young elephants stay within fifteen feet of their
mothers for nearly all of their first eight years of life, after which young females are
socialized into the matriarchal network, while young males go off for a time into
an all-male social group before coming back into the fold as mature adults.
When an elephant dies, its family members engage in intense mourning and
burial rituals, conducting weeklong vigils over the body, carefully covering it
with earth and brush, revisiting the bones for years afterward, caressing the
bones with their trunks, often taking turns rubbing their trunks along the teeth
of a skull's lower jaw, the way living elephants do in greeting. If harm comes to
a member of an elephant group, all the other elephants are aware of it. This
sense of cohesion is further enforced by the elaborate communication system
that elephants use. In close proximity they employ a range of vocalizations, from
low-frequency rumbles to higher-pitched screams and trumpets, along with a
variety of visual signals, from the waving of their trunks to subtle anglings of the
head, body, feet, and tail. When communicating over long distances-in order
to pass along, for example, news about imminent threats, a sudden change of
plans or, of the utmost importance to elephants, the death of a community
member-they use patterns of subsonic vibrations that are felt as far as several
miles away by exquisitely tuned sensors in the padding of their feet.
This fabric of elephant society, Bradshaw and her colleagues concluded, had
effectively been frayed by years of habitat loss and poaching, along with systematic culling by government agencies to control elephant numbers and translocations of herds to different habitats. The number of older matriarchs and female
caregivers (or "allomothers") had drastically fallen, as had the number of elder
bulls, who play a significant role in keeping younger males in line. In parts of
Zambia and Tanzania, a number of the elephant groups studied contained no
adult females whatsoever. In Uganda, herds were often found to be "semipermanent aggregations," as a ...