Assignment: Write a short essay (750 words) that defends a thesis you developed through a close critical reading/analysis of one (or two) literary works listed on the syllabus and supported by at least one secondary source. This essay relies mainly on textual support from the primary text, but includes at least one secondary source that supports/sustains the student’s argument. Do not confuse “critical analysis” with “plot summary”; the goal is to develop, sustain, and advance a thesis based on a critique of the primary text but supported in part by at least one secondary source.
What you’ll be graded upon:
15% Introduction: You establish a context for the significance of your thesis in regards to the literary work as a whole. How does your argument contribute to understanding the author’s major literary/thematic concerns? What can other readers learn from your analysis? How does your analysis/critique fit in with other critical responses of the author/literary work?
15% Thesis: You state your main point (or argument) in 1-2 sentences. The thesis is the culmination of your introduction.
30% Organization. Your essay should follow that of typical literary critiques:
Since your focus must be on analyzing some literary motif, theme, or a combination of literary elements (such as symbolism, character, setting, etc.), your essay must contain well-structured supporting paragraphs that contain a topic sentence, quotes from the primary text, at least one quote from a secondary source, an explanation/discussion of the significance of the quotes you use in relation to your thesis, and a concluding sentence or two that situates the entire paragraph in relation to the thesis. Your thesis will focus on some kind of critical analysis of the primary text, so your supporting paragraphs should contain quotes from the text that illustrate your thesis/argument; in addition, you should include at least one quote from secondary source to support your argument. Your supporting paragraphs should be organized around each of the quotes you use, explaining the significance of the quotes and why (or how) they illustrate your main point, but you also need to make sure that your paragraphs contain strong transitions and at least six (or more) sentences.
10% Conclusion: Regardless of the argument you make, you want a conclusion that avoids summarizing what you’ve just said, and please avoid writing, “In conclusion.…” Your aim in a conclusion is to place the discussion in a larger context. For example, how might your critical analysis of a literary character relate to the other characters in a work? How might your thesis be applied to other aspects of the text, say for example, setting or symbolism?
15% Grammar and mechanics: Your paper avoids basic grammar mistakes, such as dropped apostrophes in possessives, subject/verb disagreement, arbitrary tense switches, etc. The paper demonstrates a commitment to proofreading by avoiding easy-to-catch typos and word mistakes (effect for affect, for example). The paper adheres to MLA formatting style for in-text and bibliographic citations.
15% Presentation: Your paper meets the minimum length criteria of 750 words, is typed with a title and your name on it. You follow your individual professor’s instructions for formatting (margins, placement of the name, etc).