This example of a response paper assignment expects drafts of about 2 to 3 pages in length but only requires nine submissions over a fifteen week semester. It leaves the options for topics open, but it clearly explains the conventions of an academic essay and the need for sufficient textual evidence to support interpretations. This assignment is a great option for those looking for something between weekly response papers and the shorter essays found in section 1 of the assignment bank.
The nine written assignments ask you to write an essay, which should be a thoughtful response to one of the topics provided. Secondary sources need not be consulted for any of these assignments, although you’re free to refer to them if you wish. Original thoughts about the novels are especially welcome. Never worry about disagreeing with my interpretations; feel free to do so, as long as your ideas are sensible and supported by logical and appropriate references to the text. Such textual evidence should always be used to support your conclusions. Make sure that you use proper documentation when writing your essay, including page citations of both primary and secondary sources and a works cited listing for all works to which you refer. (See appendices A and B on documentation and format.)
Without proper documentation, you may face a charge of plagiarism. Your instructor will be using turnitin.com to confirm that your work is original.
Each written assignment should be at least 2–3 pages in length unless otherwise specified. All of your papers must be reasonably free of typographical and mechanical errors. I strongly encourage you to use a word processing program, preferably one with a spell check. Also, make sure that your essay truly answers the question posed in the written assignment. Finally, in order to pass this course, you must submit all of the assignments.
It is important to remember that this is a university-level literature course. This means that you are expected to have a basic understanding of how to write a clear and effective formal argument about a work of literature. For some students, this course comes soon after other writing and literature courses, and the assignments may seem easy. For others, it has been longer, perhaps even decades, since you have read a novel, written an essay, or even taken a class. This means that you may have to do extra work so that your writing meets the course requirements for clarity, support, and organization. You should factor in the time that such review may take you as you determine your schedule for lesson submission.
In any literature essay, your first paragraph should introduce the work, its author, and the topic, and end by clearly stating your thesis (the argument which your paper will go on to prove). Generally, your thesis for assignments in this course will be your answer to the topic question. You should consider your reader educated, but don’t assume that your reader is familiar with the text that you are analyzing. Provide enough background so that your reader understands your argument, but remember that you are making an argument, not summarizing or reporting on the literary work. In the body of your essay, each paragraph should be focused around one main idea that pushes your essay a step closer to proving your thesis. To do so, each paragraph needs to offer direct evidence (quotes, specific scene descriptions, details about characters, paraphrases) from the text, which will support, illustrate, and prove the paragraph’s main idea. Make sure to explain each quote’s significance to your argument and to express your ideas as clearly as possible. You should conclude each of these paragraphs by restating its main idea and by tying it back to your thesis, making the connection for your reader. Your final paragraph should restate your thesis and briefly refresh your reader’s memory about your paper’s main ideas. You should also indicate the significance of your argument so that your reader isn’t left asking, “So what?”
Your instructor will return each lesson to you with comments on your writing and your ideas. You are expected to keep these comments in mind as you write each subsequent lesson so that your assignments for this course become a process of sharpening your writing skills.