So, you’ve chosen to write an EE in Language and Literature. There are some things you should know about this…
1) This EE must be written in your Language A
2) There are 3 categories, or 3 types of EEs in Language and Literature that you could potentially choose to write.
Overview of the Categories
Let’s quickly break down the 3 types. Category 1 is an EE focusing on one or more literary works in your Language A. If your Language A is English, then the works must be in English. Category 2 is an EE comparing a literary work in your Language A with one or more literary works originally written in another language. You can examine the work in another language in translation, don’t worry! Category 3 is an EE focusing on one or more texts in your Language A. Category 3 EEs tend to analyze non-fiction things like magazines, newspapers, speeches, etc., rather than books or short stories.
My EE Experience
However, I’m here to talk about Category 2 EEs! For reference, my Language A in the IB was English. So, when I wrote my EE, one work had to be in English and one work had to be in something else. For my EE, my topic was the “China Doll” Stereotype (the delicate, submissive East Asian woman) and the role it had in exotifying East Asian Women in Western Literature. I chose to examine John Luther Long’s “Madame Butterfly” and Pierre Loti’s Madame Chrysanthème. Long’s work was originally written in English, and Loti’s work was originally written in French. I studied Loti’s work in translation, so don’t worry if you’re not fluent in another language besides your Language A.
I think that doing a Category 2 EE can be beneficial if you’re looking at a concept that traverses multiple countries or cultures. My topic looked at how the Western world exotified East Asia, but if I were to only look at a work in English, I would be limiting my investigation to the English-speaking world. Doing a Category 2 EE allowed me to look at another culture and observe the exotification of East Asian women as a more global phenomenon.
I think the hardest part can be creating an argument and the flow that you want your EE to follow. My research question was: In what ways did Loti and Long develop the framework for the exotification of East Asian women in Western literature through the characterization of East Asian women and the portrayal of East Asian culture? A bit of background, the exotification of East Asian women through the “China Doll” stereotype originates from Orientalism and the attempts of the Western world to control and manipulate the “Orient” or East. The East was seen as dangerous, so the stereotype of the delicate, submissive Asian woman as a method of control.
For my main argument, I divided it into 3 parts. Part 1 focused on a method that only Loti used to exotify East Asian women in his book. Part 2 focused on a method that both Loti and Long used to exotify East Asian women in the works. Part 3 focused on a method that only Long used to exotify East Asian women. This allowed me to form my EE as if I was having Loti pass the baton to Long in a relay race or as if my EE was a very elaborate Venn Diagram. Additionally, through this format, I was able to form my thesis statement that though both authors set the precedent for exotifying East Asian women through certain methods, they each had different methods to complete the same goal.
To conclude, I discussed what both Long and Loti contributed to the “China Doll” stereotype and how that harmful stereotype lives on today in works like Puccini’s Madama Butterfly or Miss Saigon or in the othering of East Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic [aka the real-world impact or why the topic even matters]. I was able to highlight the “contributions” of each author to the stereotype to keep my essay dynamic, while still supporting my point that both authors developed the framework for the stereotype.
In general, when writing an EE in Language and Literature, there are a few things to remember.
1) An EE in Language and Literature should be about your own interpretation of the works.
this way, an EE in Language and Literature is simpler because the research/reading process is shorter. You really only need to read the works you’re analyzing. In my case, I had one additional book for historical background, and I had some articles to reference small statistics or facts in my introduction or conclusion.
2) Literary analysis is like any skill, something you have to develop.
It involves pulling literary aspects out of the text, like imagery, metaphor, word choice, symbolism, and repeated words or sounds. In this aspect, you have a lot of freedom, because writers make a lot of choices in the words they choose and the pictures they choose to paint. Some questions I asked myself when I was analyzing a quotation were: “What literary choices did the author make here?” and “How did this literary choice impact my interpretation of the text, impact the meaning of the text, or support my argument in any way?” You don’t necessarily have to drop terms like “imagery” or “symbolism” but you need to be pulling out specific phrases or words and explaining why they are significant.
Example (from my EE): Loti writes that “it seemed as if Japan were opened to our view through an enchanted fissure, allowing us to penetrate into her very heart” (Loti 6). With sexually coded symbolism, Loti portrays Japan as a feminine entity ready to be dominated upon his arrival. This aligns with the “China Doll” stereotype, illustrating Japan as well as her people as submissive and controllable.
3) Make sure that the focus of your EE is on the LITERATURE and LANGUAGE.
When I started my writing process, I was tempted to talk a lot about the history that went into the exotification of East Asian women (namely, Orientalism and Orientalism’s origins). However, my EE advisor urged me to put less focus on the HISTORY and more on the LITERATURE. It is okay to have a paragraph or two to set historical context down, but the majority of the paper should be literary analysis.
4) Some resources that helped me were the IB Extended Essay Handbook and example EEs posted online.
If your school doesn’t provide the handbook for you, you can find it here. It has chapters about each topic you can write your EE on, as well as information like word count, citations, mark bands, and filling out the RPPF (reflection form). I found the example EEs in Language and Literature very helpful when trying to figure out how to structure my argument or to determine what sort of analysis high-scoring students were doing.
That’s it! Make sure to enjoy the process as much as you can! I know that writing the EE can be super stressful when you also have IAs and regular tests and homework, but it can be a really fun and rewarding process to research something and put a lot into a topic that you’re really passionate about. When I finished the EE, I was finally able to reflect upon it, and I realized that I enjoyed it a lot and that it was something I wanted to continue learning about in college.
Good luck!! Feel free to message me on Instagram (@awestrxck) if you have any questions about writing EEs in Language and Literature.