The primary goal of the essays is to demonstrate an understanding of the genre, whether it be fiction, poetry, or drama, and to use that knowledge to develop and defend a unique interpretation of the literary work.
A psychoanalytic or feminist interpretation of either the Hawthorne or Carter story, or an interpretation that uses a combination of these approaches. *You must directly quote and closely analyze a relevant passage from 2 different theorists covered during the section (Freud, Berger, or Wolf).
A marxist or deconstructive interpretation of one of the Section Two poems, or an interpretation that uses a combination of these approaches. *You must directly quote and closely analyze a relevant passage from 2 different theorists covered during the section (Marx, Baudrillard, Haraway, or hooks).
A postcolonial, queer theory, or cultural studies interpretation of either Streetcar Named Desire or Suddenly Last Summer, or an interpretation that uses any combination of these approaches. This essay will be a research essay, incorporating direct quotations from at least 5 sources:
1) Either the Said, Butler, or Shohat excerpt;
2) One contextual source by a historian or sociologist related to your topic;
3) One chapter of a book on reserve at the library about Williams (listed under “Coykendall”);
4) A book chapter or article of literary criticism listed in the MLA Bibliography focusing on the Williams’ play;
5) Either a theoretical work recommended for “Further Reading” on pg. 297-303 of the How to Interpret Literature book (excluding those listed under “Marxism”), or a work anthologized in the Critical Tradition or Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, both on reserve at the library.
The Guidelines on the Research Essay (/guide.htm) will have more information about the third essay. It must show a comprehensive understanding of the techniques covered throughout the term.
There will be a response due every section, each at least 2 full paragraphs in length. You can compose the responses either by hand or by computer; however, because I am unable to print student work on the department machines, you must bring hard copies to class that I can return to you with commentary. Responses are meant to generate innovative ideas and to strengthen your understanding of the texts that we have covered, so concentrate most on getting as many of your thoughts out as possible, writing well only insofar as you need to for the sake of communication and disregarding spelling mistakes or any other petty grammatical concern.
Assessment of Homework and Essays:
Responses are each worth up to 15 points, as will be most of the homework assignments unless relatively undemanding and thus worth fewer points. All of essays will receive two grades—one for the argument and one for the writing—with each of these grades averaged together evenly. Students less familiar with the technicalities of writing will receive a boost by putting initiative into crafting a unique argument, while students less skilled in thinking critically will receive a boost by writing clearly and carefully.
Specific Requirements for Essays:
A. Essays must be the required length. The relatively short length of 4 to 4½ pages gives you more time to concentrate on polishing and organizing the writing. For that very reason, however, attaining the minimum length is imperative. (A typical essay would be 5 pages, with 8 pages for a research essay.)
B. Format your essays properly and do not attempt to make them seem longer than they actually are. To establish a fair standard for all students, every essay must have
** Double spacing
** Times (or Times New Roman) font
** Exactly 1-inch margins
** Page numbers inside the margins ½ inch from the edge
** No extra line breaks, whether after the title, between paragraphs, or around quotes.
C. Any essay that is shorter than the required length will be marked late and accepted only once the required length. Double check your formatting is correct to ensure that the essay is over, not under, the minimum page limit.
D. Late essays will drop a full grade for each class period that they are late, and no essay will be accepted if it is more than two weeks late. Thus, an A essay will turn into B essay if one week late, into a C essay if two weeks late, and finally into an E essay if three weeks late.
E. All essays must be submitted as properly formatted email attachments that can be opened in MS Word. That way I can give legible commentary on the essay in a timely fashion by computer.
F. Essays must conform to MLA (Modern Language Association) stylistic conventions, which we will cover progressively throughout the term. Only one essay, the final essay with outside research, needs to have a Works Cited page; the rest require only parenthetical citations.
G. If you are absent, you can turn in an essay by the next class period without it being marked late. Just be cautious not to exceed the maximum number of absences for the semester as a whole.
H. Make sure to keep printed copies of your returned essays on hand in case you want to do an extra-credit revision. You must turn in the version with my commentary along with the revised version so that I can evaluate the effort put towards polishing and restructuring it.
Extra-Credit Opportunities (2 Maximum):
Extra-Credit Office Visit (10 pts.):
It is important to avail yourselves of the office hours of your professors for almost any class that you are taking, but most especially so for your writing classes. Brainstorming essay topics, clarifying the complexities of literary theory, or getting the writing tips that you most need for a paper can be accomplished most effectively one-on-one outside of regular class time. As mentioned on the syllabus, I will be delighted to discuss any course-related questions, interests, or concerns in person during my office hours, so much so that the first time that you visit my office hours with a course-related inquiry, I will give you extra credit for that visit.
Extra-Credit Response on Supplementary Reading (15 pts.):
If you find any of the works mentioned in How to Interpret Literature of interest (including other works by theorists that we cover in class), you can write a 2-paragraph extra-credit response on that material so long as it is chapter-length and not already required as reading (search the syllabus online [/f08] to be sure). You can also write a response on any of the texts in the “Resources” folders of the Electronic Reserves, any of the articles found in the MLA Bibliography focusing on a literary work that we are covering, or any of the essays in the anthologies on reserve at the library (The Critical Tradition or The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism) so long as they too are not already required as reading.
Extra-Credit Response on a Film or Contemporary Event (15 pts.):
If you are reminded of issues addressed in this course outside of class, feel free to explore those thoughts more deeply in a 2-paragraph extra-credit response. For instance, if some film or current event of special interest to you seems reminiscent of one of the literary or theoretical works that we are studying in class, you can write a 2-paragraph response to build bridges between the course materials and your ordinary life—just make sure to directly quote and closely analyze one of the works assigned for class. Of particular interest during the third section might be film adaptations of plays by Tennessee Williams, many of which are on reserve at the library.
Extra-Credit Response on the Conjectural Response (15 pts.):
After I return your conjectural response at the end of the term, you can write a 2-paragraph response on that response, discussing the extent to which your expectations about literature, theory, or writing (or the course itself) were or were not confirmed over the course of the semester.
Other Extra-Credit (1 Maximum):
Extra-Credit Revision of Essays One or Two (3% to Grade):
I will give considerable extra credit if do a revision of either Essay One or Two; namely, 3% added to your final grade, which is often enough to bump it up by a full mark (e.g. B+ to A-, or A- to A). You need to extend the original 4-page essay to 4½ pages, while also significantly restructuring it to clarify or enlarge the focus. In addition, you need to amend complex, recalcitrant mechanical concerns like passive voice or comma splices. See the feedback on the original essay for the organizational or grammatical concerns most applicable, and make sure to attend to that feedback while revising the essay.
Extra-Credit Extension of the Research Essay (3% to Grade):
I will also give considerable extra credit if you extend the final research essay by 3 full pages (that is, to 7½ pages); namely, 3% added to your final grade. To get the requisite length and to keep focus throughout, try to find extra sources to weave into the essay and make a longer outline to turn in for commentary.