Literary Criticism Assignment

Purpose and Goals:

To practice writing academic prose, you will write a researched argument about the role of time in one of the texts we have read in class. Although your argument should be grounded in the primary text on which you choose to focus, you will need to incorporate some secondary sources. You should interact with arguments of other scholars, both those whose position supports your own and those with whom you disagree. If you choose to write on one of the longer works of prose—Flight, Kindred, Brave New World—you should focus on that text. You may write about more than one poem, but you will have to clearly explain why you chose to put them in dialogue. Your argument should include both close readings of important passages and broader analysis about the role of time in the whole work. You will need to support your argument with various kinds of evidence. You will position your claim (“I Say”) in relation to the claims of other scholars (“They Say”). Your argument should be about 2,000 words.

Genre Conventions:

  • Sources and Evidence
    • Bizup’s B.E.A.M.
      • “Background” sources provide general information or factual evidence
      • “Exhibit” sources are those which you analyze or interpret (evidence)
      • “Argument” sources are those whose claims you engage (“They Say”)
      • “Method” sources are those from which you derive a governing concept
    • You will need to briefly summarize arguments opposed to your own and refute them by showing that your argument is better
    • All sources should be properly cited using MLA format
  • Structure
    • A thesis statement toward the end of your introduction should convey the crux of your argument
    • Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence which encapsulates the main point of that paragraph and reflects one element of your overall thesis
    • Each paragraph should end with a transition that connects it to the next paragraph
    • Your conclusion should state the implications of your argument, rather than repeat your thesis
    • Use meta-commentary to help the reader follow your argument
  • Style
    • You can combine formal and colloquial language, but do not use informal language alone
    • Use an authoritative tone when making claims
    • Use language that is as precise as possible, including appropriate jargon
    • Use qualified language when necessary to soften or nuance your claims

Grading:

This assignment will comprise 20% of your total grade for the course. You will be graded on:

  • Sources and evidence—30%
  • Structure—30%
  • Style—30%
  • Grammar and Mechanics—10%

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