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Literary Analysis Essay

INSTRUCTIONS: Students must write an argumentative literary analysis; it should be about 3 to 5 pages (absolute minimum word count is 950 words – Works Cited Page does not count in this total— maximum is 1500), presented in MLA format (students can choose 7th or 8th edition but cannot mix the two). All essays must cite at least one scholarly article from the CPCC research databases.
DIRECTIONS: We have been reading selections grouped under a broad, general theme (or movement) for each unit, but no work has one single, definitive reading. Thus, this essay will compile three literary works (essays, poems, stories, etc. – but not the “informational” segments written as part of the textbook itself) assigned through unit 10, from three different units, and present the argument that they can valuably be read together during one unit for a specific reason (to be determined by you and explained in the essay).
1. You must create your own theme to unify the works, and it should be a bit more specific than the broad themes I have used to structure the course. See the “theme” word of the week segment in unit 2 to help you. You cannot use the themes and movements we have already covered. Thus, an essay could propose, for example, that the three texts are all examples of works concerned with personal economy in the face of global power, denial serving as a motivator, crisis of faith bringing about change ……or any other of potentially thousands of thematic focuses. These are examples; you must construct your own. In short, you will be linking three previously unlinked pieces under any new thematic classification you create.
2. If your literary theme is in any way related to a general one we have covered, none of your selections can have originally been read under the unit’s theme I had already assigned them to. For example, if you choose to use any theme at all related to racism, you cannot use “Battle Royal,” and so on. Besides…
3. (And perhaps most importantly)You should avoid such overly broad themes as “love,” “social status,” “relationships,” or “death,” as almost all works have such components written into them in some way. In essence, if your theme can be expressed in one or two words, you will likely need to be more specific. Instead, you should narrow your theme down; for example, instead of “love,” you could write about how three works all show “marital economics as the principal cause of problems in modern American families.”
FORMAT: This should be more than a simple 5 paragraph essay. Each paper should open with an introductory paragraph hooking the reader, introducing and explaining the background of the issue being discussed, only quickly noting each work; do not spend space in the intro discussing the texts – the essay body will do this. The intro should include an argumentative thesis. Example: “Looking at literary works such as “Title” by Author, “Title” by Author, and even Author’s “Title,” readers can learn how [insert theme].” Please do not merely copy this thesis format; this is just an example.
The bulk of the paper should be devoted to each individual work – specifically, how it fits together with the others. You should assume your reader has read each text. So do not summarize the plot of each work, as this is not a “book report”; highlight only how it fits into your thematic designation. You will need to reference specific points of action, plot, dialog, symbols or other elements, or descriptions. If you quote from the texts, and you should do so at times for close analysis, you will use MLA format in-text citations.
You should conclude without simply repeating your thesis or what you have covered in the essay itself. In fact, avoiding repetition throughout should be a focus in not only this but all good writing.
The essay will conclude with a properly formatted MLA Works Cited page. At minimum, you must include the citations for each of the 3 readings and the required research.
BONUS: For up to five points each, you may cite up to four more outside secondary sources from the CPCC databases. (Actually, you can use as many sources as you desire, but only the first four will count towards the bonus). No web sources will count for bonus, and most should be avoided entirely, such as general reference (like Wikipedia), dictionary, or encyclopedia type entries, as well as “spark notes” type online websites. Certainly, beyond this, you are free to read
and use anything you wish, but only CPCC database research will earn you points – and even then, you should avoid things like encyclopedic or dictionary entries in a 200 level class. Note that any database may be helpful; they do not need to be literature-based. For instance, in an essay suggesting that your three readings are all examples of some specific psychological phenomena guiding the narratives, you could search psychology or even general reference databases to find good information.
Note that you should also be in-text citing both the 3 readings you choose (when quoting) and outside research (always: in paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting), as well, and in MLA format. Note that the sample essay on Blackboard does this very well and can serve as an easy example of how to do so.
Thus, if you do employ bonus research, make sure that you are properly using MLA format both in-text and in the Works Cited page, or you may lose more points than you gain if this is done sloppily and incorrectly, or even fail, if you plagiarize research materials. For more on citing and plagiarism, see our library’s website and other links in Blackboard.
GRADING: Remember, most of all, that this is a formal essay. You need to be writing only in the third person and without grammatical errors. You should also avoid all slang and contractions. And while it is possible to earn an A without extra research, if your own analytical skill is superb, in general you will need to deepen your analysis with it to score this highly. For particulars, see the essay grading rubric in Blackboard. For instance, essays that merely meet minimum requirements generally earn C (aka “passing”) grades.
REQUIREMENTS: Each essay must be submitted to Safe Assign by the day it is due. Plagiarism, even in the case of excessively poor citation, will result in a zero for the assignment. If blatant, it will also result in an F for the course and be reported to student discipline.
Late essays lose 20%. After 24 hours, if not submitted, the grade becomes a zero.

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