Friday, March 5, 2010

Critical Essay #1 Topics

FON American Literature Critical Essay 1

This assignment sheet describes the critical essay listed in your syllabus and in the online syllabus. The essay should be submitted as a printout no later than the start of our class period (lecture session) on the date listed in your syllabus. (Please check with me first if you wish to do an electronic submission using Microsoft Word.) The essay is to be about 200-250 words long (although I will accept submissions that are slightly longer) and it is to be entirely your own work. (I believe most students are honest and hardworking. Nevertheless, I take academic honesty and avoiding plagiarism very seriously; I’ve added a note on this topic at the end of this sheet.)

I will score the essay on a percentage basis, evaluating content correctness and development, content support, and written expression and writing skills. I'm serious about the due date, and late work gets penalized; I will impose a 10-point penalty from the score earned for each CALENDAR (not business or class) day the essay is submitted late, and I'm not interested in excuses or explanations. You may, however, submit the essay EARLY if you have a problem with the due date. This essay will be a major factor in my assessment of your work in the participation/projects category (20% of course grade).

You are to choose either one of the following topics; please don’t do both, since I will only read the first one I encounter anyway. Support generalizations in your answer by specific references to the text or texts involved. I am interested in your analysis and how you support it from your careful reading and knowledge gained from our class discussions, and I don’t expect use of outside research, (However, if you do use outside sources, they must be documented correctly using MLA or APA documentation, and all quotation must be indicated correctly.)

Topic choice #1.
The best regionalist writing possesses local color and universality. That is, first, regional/local color writing at its best uses one or more local color elements effectively, clearly revealing aspects of the region depicted. Second, at the same time, the best works also consider topics of a broader nature, such as social, psychological, ethical, moral, or political issues. Choose any two of the works assigned for this course (by Freeman, Chesnutt, or Chopin) that accomplish both of these tasks by referring to and commenting upon specific details from those works.

Your essay should demonstrate your knowledge of the main characteristics of regional/local color writing and of the ways specific aspects of the works you chose exhibit them. It should also demonstrate your knowledge of the tales you chose and how they do more than only exhibit those local color qualities.

Topic choice #2. Chopin’s original title for The Awakening was going to be Solitude, and the themes of isolation and solitude are indeed revealed through a number of scenes and situations in The Awakening. In at least some cases, Edna may precipitate this isolation/solitude herself, and there are often reasons for that aloneness. Explain how any three specific scenes reveal these themes and, if you can, discuss her responsibility and/or reasons for that isolation. Your support should be drawn from the work itself, not from mere supposition.

A note on my view of academic honesty. Work that you present as your own must be your own. I expect adherence to principles of academic honesty of all of my students. Therefore, I don’t tolerate academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty refers to actions such as, but not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, fabricating research, falsifying academic documents, etc., and includes all situations where students make use of the work of others and claim such work as their own. In Andrea Lunsford, The Everyday Writer, 2nd ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001), p. 119, plagiarism is described as “the use of someone else’s words without crediting the other person.” If I believe that a student has committed an act of academic dishonesty, I will notify the student and, and the student will be penalized. Academic dishonesty of this project may result in a 0% grade for the project or for the entire participation/project part of the course and, to the extent allowable, will affect any examination grade proportionately.

A good source of information on documentation is the Purdue University Online Writing Lab.