This essay follows the traditional compare and contrast assignment of looking at how two texts treat a narrative convention, but it is unique in that it gives two options for focus, the second of which allows students to venture into the realm of cultural studies by comparing a text read in class with a text from popular culture (a movie or television program).
Essay #1 Assignment
Worth: 15% of the course’s overall grade
Requirements: 4-6 pages. Stapled. Double-spaced. Times New Roman 12 point font. All citations will be MLA parenthetical citation. Include a “Works Cited” page.
Option #1: A common type of literary analysis asks you to compare and contrast elements of two different texts we’ve read (including the Kafka stories). For example, you could analyze the similarities and differences between two characters, or you could examine how theme is handled in similar and dissimilar ways in two different texts.
For this assignment, you will draw on the writing skills that you have practiced in your interpretive responses up until now. You will focus your response, you will develop it, and you will use specific textual evidence. The difference is that you will be writing about two texts instead of one (along with new length requirements).
You may choose from any of the readings we have done this semester (or will do) up to the time this essay is due.
Option #2: Instead of comparing two written texts, you may extend your reading skills into the “texts” of the everyday by comparing and contrasting your reading of an assigned text with a reading of a “text” in popular culture.
So, for example, you could discuss the motif of privacy in We and use your reading of that text (supported with specific textual examples) to explore the presentation or construction of privacy in a popular movie or television show (such as Big Brother). Does this popular text reinforce or challenge the image of privacy that Zamyatin creates in his text? You will need to provide specific evidence from both texts to support your overall claim or thesis.
Be sure that you follow the standards of academic writing. Your paper will require a brief introduction, a concise and focused claim (or thesis statement), two to three main points you will address, solid reasoning, and textual evidence along with an explanation of its significance. See the criteria sheet for more information.
**Both of these options have a lot of flexibility. Feel free to meet with me to talk through some ideas early in your writing process, or send me an email to get some feedback on specific ideas you are thinking about.
This is both a reading and a writing course, designed to sharpen your skills of textual analysis, argumentative writing, and critical thinking. To that end, your essays will be graded using the following criteria:
Presentation. Proofreading; style and readability; proper documentation (Modern Language Association Style); a clear and specific title; clear context for someone who hasn’t read the work; effective introduction and conclusion; proper format. (See appendix A for formatting guidance.)
Organization. Thesis; topic and closing sentences; relevant, focused, organized and developed paragraphs; effective sentence and paragraph transitions; clear and understandable overall organization.
Evidence/support. Specific, accurate, convincing details; effective and relevant quotations. (See appendix B for documentation information.)
Analysis. Clear interpretation; added insight into the literary work; overall coherence of argument. A grade of A is difficult (but not impossible) to receive. A B grade indicates that you have submitted work that is above average but not exemplary in quality. Receiving a C suggests that you have met the requirements of the assignments but have not gone further than the average. Your effort was adequate but not remarkable. A D means that you have written a below-average essay because you have not met some of the assignment requirements, have careless grammatical, mechanical, or punctuation errors, or have presented unclear, disorganized writing. If you receive an F, your essay doesn’t meet the assignment requirements, doesn’t answer the written assignment question, or includes an excessive number of errors.