6 October 2004
Today's Topic: Paper 1 Writing Workshop
The assignment is to write a paper (3-4 pages) that defends an argument that you make about at least one of the works on our syllabus. (Choosing a Lit Slam text is fine, as long as the text you yourself presented isn't the only text your paper examines.)
I may have given a false impression in class the other day in reponse to a question from a student about this paper. You will be expected to revise this paper -- I just haven't set the due date for that revision yet. (It will depend on when I get these drafts back to you.)
- Choose a topic that arises from your reading of the text.
Stake out a non-obvious position on an issue raised by the text -- but I don't mean something like "war is bad" or "money is important".
Defend your position by referring to and using direct quotations from the literary work.
Avoid filler such as plot summary, character description, or rambling. Assume your audience knows the text well. Make every sentence count.
Follow MLA style (for formatting the title, page number, quotations within the body of your paper, and the Works Cited list). (See MLA Style; Bib Builder.)
A thesis statement includes a topic, a precise opinion, and the blueprint.
“Gender in Edgar Allen Poe” is a topic.
“A Comparison of Femininity in Poe and Bierce” is too broad.
“A Comparison of Femininity in Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and Bierce’s ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’” is a more focused topic, but it doesn’t actually argue a position -- this paper will be a collection of observations.
Which of the following would be good thesis statements for this paper?
In the poem, “The Raven,” by Edgar Allen Poe, it tells the story of a man who grieves over the loss of Lenore.
Sometimes people are blind to their own character flaws, and project their own weaknesses onto others. This is what happens in Bierce’s “Bartleby the Scrivener.”
Poe's conflicted opinions about feminine virtue lead him to write a much more comlex and realistic treatment of female characters than Bierce -- yet it is precisely Poe's tendency to both idealize and shun the feminine that makes the treatment of the feminine in “The Raven” more psychologically compelling than that of “An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge”.
Purdue's Writing about Literature