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Washington State University
Donna M. Campbell Assignments

Paper 1

English 210
Dr. Campbell
Paper 1

Length 3-4 typed, double-spaced pages (750-1000 words, but can be longer if you wish)

Thursday, September 12 Typed rough draft due in class
Thursday, September 19  Uploaded to Blackboard by 11:55 p.m.

Your first paper for English 210 does not require secondary sources; rather, its purpose is to demonstrate your ability to do the following:

  • To choose a significant, appropriately limited topic based on the works we’ve read;
  • To investigate and support a thesis of your own devising;
  • To analyze with skill and insight specific literary works; and
  • To present the whole in a clearly organized, well-written fashion.


Content is very important, but good organization, sentence structure, and editing skills are also important. Citations and the Works Cited page should follow MLA format. More guidelines for turning in papers in this class are here:

The following are suggestions for possible topics for your paper, but you can also develop your own topic in consultation with me or with your discussion leaders. Most of them ask you to compare and contrast at least two pieces of writing.

1. Your own topic. Please check with me (via email or by stopping by my office hours) about your topic. The only firm requirement is that you must discuss at least one of the works we’ve read in class.

2. We’ve read a few pieces, including “A White Heron” and Old Times on the Mississippi, in which a key theme is initiation; the latter also has the mentor/pupil relationship common in novels and movies. Write an essay in which you discuss how these themes are handled.

3. Many of the pieces we’ve read depict nature (Jewett, Twain), but all the authors don’t do so in the same way. Choosing any two pieces that we’ve read, write a close analysis of the language of these pieces that demonstrates the author’s perspective.

4. Some of the memorable characters we’ve seen have decided to rebel against their society’s norms for how a person of their race, class, or gender should behave. Analyze any two of these characters through a close reading of the text. You may want to discuss what their resistance to these social norms says about the society in which they live, or you may want to compare a person who conforms (Editha, for example) with a character who does not (Louisa Ellis).

5. Analyze the humor in one or two of these pieces. What makes them funny? Word use? Understatement? Universal situations?

6. Write a character analysis in which you compare two characters. For example, you may want to discuss how authors use different techniques to create a character.