Essay 2 Topics and Instructions

Journal Entry 32
November 12, 2020
Unit 8 Individual Assignment
November 12, 2020

Essay 2 Topics and Instructions

Essay 2 Topics and Instructions

· Formatting requirements: Use standard MLA document formatting requirements.  Google “OWL Purdue MLA documentation style” and click on the first link for a sample and detailed information.

· Length: 500 to 1,000 words, not including the Works Cited page

· Due Date: See your syllabus.

· Submission Directives: Submit your essay as an attachment to the Assignment dropbox in the designated Learning Unit.  (See your syllabus and the Learning Units).

· Assignment Objectives:  Your goal is to apply a critical strategy to a work and to develop and support a specific thesis.  Your essay should be unified, developed, organized, and coherent, and should use sophisticated sentence style while meeting the demands of standard English.  I’ve given you specific topics to get you started thinking, along with plenty of handouts to help guide you. 

· Rubric: Be sure to read the designated rubric carefully so that you have a clear idea of what criteria I will be using as I grade your essay.

Instructions: Choose ONE of the topics below on the poems that have been assigned over the last several weeks and write a double-spaced essay (500 to 1,000 words) supporting an interpretation of the poem.  Use the sample essays in your Literature text, as well as the handouts as guides.  You can choose a formalist approach or any of the contextual approaches, but be sure to support your thesis with evidence from the poem itself.  Also, be sure that you explain howthat evidence fits your interpretation.  You are trying to convince your reader that your way of approaching the poem is a reasonable one.

Here are some possible topics, although you can choose another way of approaching your poem if you’d like, as long as you can make a good case for your claims:

1)  Examine Theodore Roethke’s diction in “My Papa’s Waltz.”  How and why does he use negative and positive connotations in his word choices to describe the young boy’s experience?

2)  What does Owen Wilfred in “Dulce Et Decorum Est” hope to achieve through his choice of imagery?  How does he do so?

3)  Examine William Stafford’s “Traveling Through the Dark” for diction and imagery, as well as his use of figurative language.  What emotional effects do you think Stafford is trying to achieve?  How do his choices help or hinder him in his efforts?

4)  Choose one of the poems we’ve read this quarter and apply a contextual approach, such as feminism.  Be sure to connect your claims about the meaning of the poem to the poem iself by examining and explaining the poet’s choices (words, phrases, rhymes, images, metaphos, etc.)

5)  Write an essay in which you argue that either Rod McKuen’s or William Stafford’s poem is superior.  Establish the criteria by which you are judging the poems and then show how each poem either meets or fails to meet your criteria.

6)  Write an essay in which you apply an contextual critical perspective to Lucille Clifton’s “Homage to My Hips” to characterize the speaker of the poem.

7)  Write an essay in which you analyze and explain how Langston Hughes uses metaphor in “Harlem.”

8)  Write an essay in which you discuss the metaphors that Marge Piercy uses in “The Secretary Chant.”  How does she use these metaphors to indicate how the speaker feels about being a secretary?  (You can also expand this idea to consider what Piercy is suggesting about women’s place in society in general during the time that the poem was written in 1973.  Remember, however, that your paper should focus on the poem and how the poet uses language to achieve the effects that she does.)

Follow all of the guidelines for a well-written essay and submit your finished work to the dropbox in next week’s Learning Unit folder.

Your essay should be between 500 and 1,000 words long and should be double-spaced.  Your essay should have a title, a relevant introduction, and a clear thesis statement.  Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that is a claim about the poem that is related to your thesis statement.  You should use carefully selected words, phrases, images, figures of speech, etc. as evidence to support your claims.  All evidence should be supported by explanation and argument as well.   Quoted material should be placed in quotation marks and followed by the line number or numbers in parentheses.  Your paper should also contain a conclusion and a Works Cited page.  You might also check out the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University for help in writing about poetry (type OWL and Purdue into Google and, if prompted, choose the link that says “Non Purdue instructors and students).  Finally, check out the numerous examples of student essays in your anthology.  Good luck.

Writing Sample:

Below is an excerpt from a paper on Lucille Clifton’s “Homage to My Hips.”  The paragraph begins with a clear topic sentence stating the main idea of the paragraph (in green).  The writer then quotes a numbers of lines to present as evidence from the poem (in blue).  Finally, the evidence is followed by a fairly strong explanation of how these lines fit the claim of the paragraph (in red), which, of course, ultimately should support the essay’s thesis.

Here is Clifton’s poem:

 Homage to My Hips   
 these hips are big hips. they need space to  move around in. they don’t fit into little petty places. these hips are free hips. they don’t like to be held back. these hips have never been enslaved, they go where they want to go  they do what they want to do.  these hips are mighty hips. these hips are magic hips. i have known them to put a spell on a man and  spin him like a top  Lucille Clifton

 Excerpt from a student paper:


            Clifton develops a feminist theme by rebelling against the stereotype of thinness as a mark of female beauty, a stereotype encouraged by images in our society in magazines like Cosmopolitan andGlamour and on television channels like MTV. She illustrates this rebellion in’the first few lines of the poem:

                                    these hips are big hips.

                                    they need space to

                                    move around in.

                                    they don’t fit into little

                                    petty places …. (1-5).

The accent in the first line falls on “hips” and on “big,” emphasizing by that accent the fact that her hips are not small; one might expect the speaker, if she were intimidated by her society’s views, to be ashamed of the size of her hips, but she is not. Moreover, the hips are said to “need space to / move around in,” indicating that they are not able to be restricted by small spaces. The speaker does not apologize for this need but celebrates it, rebelling against those who would try to restrain her hips. The hips come to represent their owner’s rebelliousness and striving toward freedom. Further, the hips “don’t fit” into “petty places,” (in other words, those places that are too “small” for them), but the speaker doesn’t express shame or regret at this fact.  Instead, she criticizes the “petty places” by using the denigrating term “little,” which adds to the already negative connotations of the word “petty.”

The material highlighted in “green” is the topic sentence or claim of the paragraph.  The material highlighted in “blue” is the evidence.  And the material highlighted in “red” is the attempt to explain the writer’s reasoning for interpreting the essay in the way that she has done.  The paragraph as a whole could stand smoother transitions, more explanation, and a more precise use of the evidence.  Rather than simply selecting an entire block of the poem to be quoted, the student would do better to take a line, a phrase, or even a word to explain.  Still, the excerpt serves as a skeletal example of the basics.

ENGL1102          Student Name:_________________________________ Date:_______________Score: ____________

Student Learning Outcomes:

Writing about Literature

1. Identify the structural elements of poetry, drama, the novel, and the short story.

2. Examine the ideas and values in various literary works in historical and philosophical context.

Research Skills

1. Conduct research using hard-copy, database, and online resources.

2. Demonstrate an intermediate knowledge of correct manuscript formatting and research citation techniques.

General Education Learning Outcomes:

Self-Development & Global Awareness:

Students will develop goals and devise strategies for growth in the understanding of diversity in life and learning; and to develop an ethical awareness on the pathway to becoming a citizen of the world.

Problem Solving:

Students will demonstrate locating relevant information and sources, judging the reliability of those sources, and evaluating the evidence contained in those sources as they construct arguments, make decisions, and solve problems.

Grading Range

Incoherent or not evident; poorly demonstrated: 0-10     Needs Improvement: 11-13           Fair; passable work: 14-15

Good; meets criteria: 16-18       Exceeds basic criteria with originality and creativity: 19-20

Format/Presentation/ Use of Resources (20 pts)Paper follows all guidelines on assignment sheet. Paper is professional, typed, doubled-spaced, and uses correct type face and size font.☐Paper is correct length, according to requirements on assignment sheet.☐Paper does NOT use outside references or sources but comes from the student’s own analysis..☐All quotes are introduced and discussed afterward: no “free-floating” quotes.Please add additional, instructor specific, requirements here if necessary:☐All quotations are incorporated into the text smoothly.
Purpose/Introduction/Conclusion (20 pts)☐Includes a title, not a label.☐Introduction is engaging with a strategy to grab the reader’s attention.☐Background information acts as bridge by introducing author, work, period or tradition, but does not outweigh analysis.☐Thesis is insightful, clear and focused: may be explanatory, interpretative, or evaluative.☐Thesis establishes a connection between an important concept, theme, or idea and a specific work(s) by one of the authors found in your textbook or one previously approved by instructor.Conclusion is thoughtful, engaging, and clear—does not just restate thesis—leaves the reader with something to think about.
Development/Content/Organization – Part One (20 pts)Supports thesis with an analysis of the text.☐Does not retell the story as support for the claim but rather analyzes literary techniques in order to reveal the relationship of the author’s work to the chosen concept, theme, or idea.☐May discuss any combination of literary elements: critical strategies, diction, syntax, imagery, figurative language, symbolism, tone, point of view, audience, purpose, character analysis, and overall theme as textual support.☐Appropriate tone and voice are used.
Development/Content/Organization – Part Two (20 pts)☐Depth of research is evident and paper is free of vague or generalized statements.☐Avoids plagiarism.☐Uses MLA format with in-text citations and work cited page. ☐All information not common knowledge is properly cited.  All ideas and information not the author’s own are cited.  All quotes, pulled text, and paraphrased information are cited.☐Quotes do not outweigh the student’s writing.☐Uses a coherent organizing structure for paragraphs.  Paragraphs contain only one main point, are well-developed, averaging two per page, and contain clear topic sentences with focused support. Please add additional, instructor specific, requirements here if necessary:☐Smooth transitions are used both within and between paragraphs.☐Organization is sophisticated, not mechanical.
Structure/ Grammar/Word Choice/Punctuation/ Spelling (20 pts)☐Demonstrates evidence of editing and revision.☐Paper is relatively free of errors in usage and mechanics that interfere with coherence and fluency.  Refers to text in present tense.☐Demonstrates awareness of mature use of language, sense of audience, and word choice.☐Uses a variety of sentence patterns and sound sentence structure.

For Help with Section 1

Essay Format:   

Research Overview:

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For Help with Section 3

Argument Thesis:

Ethos, Pathos, Logos:,-Pathos,-and-Logos



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