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Donna M. Campbell English 481

English 481 Assignments

Paper 1

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

February 7: Typed rough draft due in class
February 9: Paper due at beginning of class if you are turning in a paper copy OR uploaded to Angel by 9 p.m. if you are turning in an electronic copy.

Guidelines

  • The first paper does not require research, although secondary sources may be helpful. Rather, its purpose is to demonstrate your ability to choose a significant, appropriately limited topic in American literature; to investigate and support a thesis of your own devising; to analyze with skill and insight the evidence from specific literary works; and to present the whole in a clearly organized, well-written fashion.
  • The essay should incorporate at least one work read in class. You may choose your own topic for the paper if you consult with me ahead of time.
  • Your paper should be limited enough to provide a specific thesis and a close analysis of the texts; repeating broad, obvious generalities (i.e., “Women were limited by society’s expectations in the nineteenth century”) or ideas we have discussed in class will not be sufficient.

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: http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/format.htm. You can find good information on citing sources online here: http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch04_o.html

Topics

These topics are broad and are meant to suggest ideas to you; you should think about developing your own ideas using these as guidelines.

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

2. Choosing one of the selections in the Household Book of Poetry or another such 19th-century source, compare a poem from a lesser-known but popular poet with a poem on a similar subject by Dickinson. What characteristics would make these poems popular or well-regarded during the nineteenth century (if that’s true)?3. Analyze one or more of Twain’s early pieces of writing and compare it with either (1) a story in the tradition of Southwestern Humor or (2) one of his late stories.

4. Choose a story by Twain or Freeman that was published in a magazine or newspaper and discuss it in the context of the other pieces with which it was published.

5. Briefly analyze one work by Dickinson or Freeman that challenges the ways in which women were perceived in the nineteenth century.  Make sure that you analyze the work closely.

6. Using the versions of Dickinson’s poetry available in facsimile editions in the library or in the Dickinson archives, explore the versions of a poem or sequence of poems to determine the ways in which the meanings change through the poet’s revisions.

7. An author’s letters and interviews can be revealing, especially about the ways in which they see their own work. Analyze a story or work by Freeman, Twain, or Dickinson and, using their comments about it, discuss the ways in which their views about it may differ from our own.
Paper 2<

Length: 3-4 typed, double-spaced pages (750-1000 words, but can be longer if you wish)
Due: March 8, 2012. Paper due at beginning of class if you are turning in a paper copy OR uploaded to Angel by 9 p.m. if you are turning in an electronic copy.

Guidelines

  • This paper does not require research, although secondary sources may be helpful. Rather, its purpose is to demonstrate your ability to choose a significant, appropriately limited topic in American literature; to investigate and support a thesis of your own devising; to analyze with skill and insight the evidence from specific literary works; and to present the whole in a clearly organized, well-written fashion.
  • The essay should incorporate at least one work read in class. You may choose your own topic for the paper if you consult with me ahead of time.
  • Your paper should be limited enough to provide a specific thesis and a close analysis of the texts; repeating broad, obvious generalities (i.e., “Women were limited by society’s expectations in the nineteenth century”) or ideas we have discussed in class will not be sufficient.

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: http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/format.htm. You can find good information on citing sources online here: http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/RES5e_ch04_o.html

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

Topics

These topics are broad and are meant to suggest ideas to you; you should think about developing your own ideas using these as guidelines.

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

2. Compare poems by Frost or Stevens with one or more poems of Dickinson. In what way could they be considered her “heirs”?

3. Visit the MASC and research several issues of a magazine or newspaper. Who are the popular authors? What are the significant topics? Do you see any stories by the authors we are studying? Do other authors address the same kinds of topics?

4. Choose a story by London or Chesnutt (or another writer) that was published in a magazine or newspaper and discuss it in the context of the other pieces with which it was published.

5. Choosing at least one poem by Frost or Stevens, compare it with other poems by Stephen Crane or an earlier contemporary.

6. Compare the dialect and non-dialect poetry written by Dunbar.

7. How are issues of racial injustice treated in authors such as Dunbar, London, and Chesnutt?

pring 2012

Pr�cis Assignment
Pr�cis rubric
Due: April 3, 2012. Paper versions are due in class; electronic versions must be uploaded to Angel by 9 p.m.
Length: Approximately 2 typed, double-spaced pages (500-600 words)
For this assignment, you’ll write a pr�cis on a journal article or book chapter that relates to the topic for your second paper.

Guidelines:

You should consult the MLA Bibliography, not merely ProQuest, Project Muse, JStor, or another online database, in choosing your article.
You’ll receive extra credit for using a book or journal that is not online.
Your pr�cis must include either a link to the online source or a photocopy of your print source.
The pr�cis should be formal in tone, although you may use “I” in the second paragraph as you evaluate the work.
Although reading this article may help you in writing your final paper, you aren’t required to use the article in your paper. You may discover that the article is not as useful as you might have hoped.
Form:

A pr�cis is a summary and critical evaluation of a piece of scholarly work. It will typically take the following form:

Full bibliographic citation in MLA format of the article or book chapter.
First paragraph: an objective summary or abstract of the article. This paragraph should present the information as objectively as possible. You’ll have a chance to critique the argument in the second part of your pr�cis. You should not use the abstract published with the journal article or book chapter. The first paragraph should contain the following information:
The overall argument that the author is making, including the author’s thesis, the logical thread of the argument, the kinds of support provided, and so forth. If the author invents or uses special terms to argue the case, mention and define them.
The context for the argument. What critics or points of view is the author attempting to refute? Where does the author’s argument fit into the larger critical discussion of the issue? Is the author attempting to overturn certain assumptions about the work, and, if so, what are those assumptions?
Second paragraph: a critical analysis of the article. In this paragraph, you’ll assess the strengths and weaknesses of the article and discuss the implications of its reasoning for future study of the work. These questions may help you get started:
What parts of the article were especially strong or insightful, and why?
In what parts of the essay (if any) did the author make claims that were not supported by the evidence? Were there any flaws in the logic of the piece?
In what ways is this article useful for understanding the novel? How significant is it?
You may use more paragraphs if you need to, but you should follow this basic format.

The pr�cis will count for 5% of your grade (see syllabus). It will not receive extensive comments; instead, it will be graded using the following rubric:

Category

Possible Points

Actual Points

Full bibliographic citation in MLA format of the article or book chapter.

2

Printout of article handed in with pr�cis

3

Summary of article (first paragraph)

10

Critique of article (second paragraph)

10

Quality of writing (style, grammar, punctuation, etc.)

10

Total

35

Extra credit for writing about an article or book chapter not available online

2

n the short space of sixteen weeks, we cannot cover all the topics of interest to the student of this period of American literature. To present information on some of the topics not covered otherwise, students choosing this option will prepare a short (5-7 minute) oral presentation on one of the topics listed below.

You’ll also prepare a one-page “fact sheet” to hand out to the class. This may take the form of an outline, summaries of critical articles, or a synopsis of your argument. You should include at least one critical article or book in preparing your report, and your fact sheet should provide a brief bibliography of the works you consulted.

Your presentation may focus on something you wish to work on for your paper. You may also want to work on one of the following:

Presentation about the popular reception of an author in his or her own time. What did the reviews say? What did the reviewers like or dislike? Why was this author popular?
Additional information about the social, intellectual, artistic, scientific, philosophical, or historical contexts for the works and authors assigned in class.
Interpretations of works or aspects of a work not read in class.
Introductions to authors not specifically covered in the course.
Discussion of one or more critical works relating to the era.
Background about the social and intellectual connections among certain groups of authors.
The evaluation of your report will be based on the criteria found on the Report Evaluation Form.

If you complete the report AND the weblog assignment, you do not have to take Exam 2.
Weblog Option

A weblog (or blog) is a way for you to keep an informal online journal recording your thoughts on the readings. It is your space to write down your thoughts, insights, and opinions about the literature. You can discuss what interests you most about the work we’ve read, connect the work to something in contemporary culture, analyze a theme or image, write alternative dialogues for the characters, ask questions, and so on. Your weblog posts can serve as an idea board for your paper.

What if I don’t know how to make web pages ?

You do not need to have any knowledge about creating web pages to choose this option; the beauty of a weblog is that all the technical work is done for you. You simply type in your comments and click on the “publish” button.

Does it cost anything?

Many free blogging sites are available. Creating an account and setting up your weblog on any of the free sites will take about five minutes. You should try to choose a site that allows the creation of an RSS feed and permits comments, as Blogger does (and as most sites do). Blogger: www.blogger.com. You could also try WordPress (www.wordpress.com) or another service.

What should I write?

Here are some suggestions for weblog posts (though you’re not required to use any of them):

Short passage . Choose a passage that intrigued you, infuriated you, puzzled you, or otherwise provoked you to think about its meaning. Write a post in which you discuss the passage, its meaning, and your reaction.
Three words . Choose any three words that are especially significant in the text, and explain why they are so significant. Alternately, you can challenge or “tag” another class member to write on three words of your choosing.
Thoughts about the book. Post your thoughts about some aspect of the story or novel.
Thoughts about your paper . Try out some ideas for your paper. What important theme, symbol, or feature of the text particularly interests you?
“The Word” on a speech. Take a passage of dialogue that is especially significant in the text, and after each character’s words, write what he or she is REALLY thinking or trying to prove. This could be written as a serious analysis, or it could be written in an ironic form like that used in The Colbert Report’s feature “The Word.”
Stop, fool! Is there a point in the text when a character acts in a way that is so self-destructive or ridiculous that you’d like to stop him or her? Is there any character in the text who might actually have a chance of stopping the character? Write a dialogue (in character) in which you try to dissuade the character from the self-destructive action.
Call me Ishmael. Write your blog post for the week as if you were one of the characters in the story. Comment on the action you’ve observed or been engaged in, using the style and personality of the character.
Blog carnival . A blog “carnival” is a collection of annotated links on a particular topic. Try to find blogs that address a topic relevant to the literature we’re discussing (technorati.com may be helpful in finding links) and host your own “carnival” on your blog.
Classics need editors, too. Be the editor that the author needed. If you could change something (omit a chapter or passage, add an explanation, create a new character, etc.) in the story or novel you’re reading, what would you change and why? Could Whitman or Dickinson improve their work with a little help from your editing genius? This could be written in the form of a letter to the author explaining how those changes will improve the work.
Better ending. Write an alternate ending for the story, and explain the reasons why your ending is better than the one the author chose.
Parody. Write a parody of the novel or a chapter in the novel.
Right story, wrong form . Rewrite the work or a section of the work in another form. For example, what would “The Open Boat” look like if it were a song lyric? a limerick? a sonnet? What would The Damnation of Theron Ware look like if it were turned into a play? How could The Country of the Pointed Firs or “The Storm” work as a reality tv show?
Right story, wrong author . Rewrite an episode from the story or novel in the style of a different author. For example, how would Mark Twain rewrite “Daisy Miller” ? What would Edith Wharton’s “Roman Fever” sound like if it were written in the form of “chick lit” like Bridget Jones’s Diary?
A current event . If something we’re reading is relevant to the cultural, social, or political scene today, write a post in which you connect the reading with the current phenomenon.
Requirements for the Weblog Option

1. Write 10 entries of approximately 300 words each. If you choose the weblog option, you’ll write at least one entry each week, for a total of ten entries in all. These posts can be long entries (a few paragraphs, or about 300 words per entry) or a series of shorter entries. To allow for exams, holidays, and papers, some weeks have no weblog post due.

2. Post your entry to your weblog by the Thursday due date at 9 p.m. You do not need to wait for Thursday. You can post at any time during the week, but 9 p.m. on Thursday is the due date each week; after that, your post will count for the next week. You can miss a few posts and still receive credit, but your grade would be reduced.

3. Respond to at least one of your classmates’ posts each week. You don’t have to respond to the same blog each time, and you can write a brief response or an extensive one. You may need to get a username (free) on a different blogging site in order to leave a comment. Comments for one week’s posts are due the next week on Thursday by 9 p.m.

You must sign up for this option at the beginning of the semester. Posting all the entries or all the comments in the last week of class won’t be acceptable.

Although your weblog posts aren’t due until Thursdays at 9, don’t wait until the last minute to post your messages. The sites sometimes go down or are offline for maintenance, and you may miss a deadline if you wait until the last minute.

The weblog will be graded primarily on your satisfactory completion of the above criteria (75%), although the quality of your posts (25%) will also be a factor. Each week you’ll earn 3 points (2 points for your post and 1 point for responding to another person’s post,, for a total of 30 points (3 x 10 posts.

2 points

Substantial post by the deadline (this is the norm)

1 point

Insubstantial post

0 points

Missing post

1 point

Respond to one or more posts on another blog

Washington State University