Short Paper Project
Due: Apr. 16, by 11:59, an electronic copy submitted to the Turnitin database located in Blackboard / Assignments.
3-5 pages, nothing below 3 full pages of writing will pass
Format: See the Format Policy in the Syllabus. Any major deviations will result in a zero grade for the assignment.
Works Cited: one source minimum (Works Cited page doesn’t count as a page of writing)
This assignment provides you an opportunity to develop further the analytical skills you have been working by completing discussion questions and preparing for exams. Those skills will assist you as you write a short, university-quality literary argument. The next three classes of the semester will be an intense “crash course” on writing that will cover the following aspects of writing:
MLA formatted Works Cited page
MLA parenthetical citations used within the paper
Properly punctuated and formatted quotations
Clearly stated thesis
Three (at minimum) supporting points utilizing literary evidence
Focused, developed body paragraphs
Your grade will be determined by how well you can demonstrate your proficiency with these basic requirements.
You have a choice of two paper prompts. Your grade will also be affected by how well your paper addresses your chosen prompt and how well you demonstrate the literary knowledge you have gained throughout this unit of reading. Below are the prompts:
1. In this unit of reading, we have been reading the some of the most famous literature of the Modernist period. These works share a variety of traits: 1. the theme of fragmentation, 2. the art of omission, 3. perspectivism, and 4. the sense of personal loss. For your essay, you will examine one Modernist literary work that we have read. You must demonstrate how this one literary work utilizes at least 3 of the 4 traits of the Modernist sensibility. For evidence, you should quote from the literary work at least one passage that applies to each Modernist trait; remember to explain how each passage supports your interpretation. (If you choose Master’s poetry – you must do three poems.)
2. In this unit of reading, we have been reading the some of the most famous literature of the Modernist period. These works share a variety of traits: 1. the theme of fragmentation, 2. the art of omission, 3. perspectivism, and 4. the sense of personal loss. For your essay, focus on one of these traits; explain that trait. Next, select three of the Modernist literary works that we have read and demonstrate how all three of those works each possess that same trait. For evidence, you should quote at least one passage from each work; remember to explain how each passage supports your interpretation. (Master’s poetry: three poems = one literary work)
Guide Sheet for Writing the Short Paper
This handout will explain the kinds of things you should cover in each section of your literary paper.
Your introduction should be 1 or 2 paragraphs long:
1. To open, you could provide a short summary of the literary text that you will be examining and why you find it interesting to read and study.
(This is a good strategy if you are doing Essay Prompt #1, which is an analysis of a single text.)
2. To open, you could provide a short summary of the thematic idea that you will be using in the paper to help you examine the literary text. For instance, you may want to explain the particular theme of modernism that you will be dealing with in your paper.
(This is a good strategy if you are doing Essay Prompt #2, which is an analysis of one trait of modernism and how it appears in three different literary texts.)
Depending on the length of your opening, you may choose to start a second paragraph. If you do, proceed directly to step 3.
3. You need to present a thesis statement. The thesis is NOT your literary text:
My thesis is to explain T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
A thesis is an argument that you are trying to demonstrate or prove to the reader. In this case, a thesis is an argument about a literary text. For example:
I will argue that T.S. Eliot’s poem demonstrates several major themes of modernist writing. I will show that the poem contains perspectivism, fragmentation, and a sense of the loss of personal significance.
Another example of a thesis:
I will prove that Glaspell’s Trifles, Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams,” and Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” all demonstrate the modernist theme of the loss of life’s significance.
(Note: Your thesis should say, “I will argue… “ or “My essay will prove…” or “My paper will demonstrate that…” Make it clear to the reader what your opinion is.)
4. Provide a short overview of what your supporting points will be. For example:
To prove my argument, I will focus on three aspects of three scenes from the poem. The first scene, where Prufrock describes London and the weather shows perspectivism. The second scene, in which Prufrock tries to talk to the woman demonstrates the art of omission. Finally, the third scene is . . .
To prove my argument that these three works share this theme, I will first focus on Mrs. Wright’s marriage in Trifles. Next, I will discuss why Dexter cries at the end of “Winter Dreams.” Finally, I will cover the symbol mermaid at the end of “Prufrock.”
Once you complete all these steps for the introduction, then start writing your paper’s body.
Your paper should have 3 body paragraphs (or more, depending on the length of the assignment). Each body paragraph should explain one supporting point that will demonstrate your thesis. Think of the body paragraph as a “quotation sandwich.” To explain, here are 4 easy steps to guide you through writing an acceptable body paragraph.
1. Begin a topic sentence. The topic sentence should NOT have a quotation in it. Name the idea of the paragraph IN YOUR OWN WORDS. For example,
Glaspell’s Trifles explores the theme of the loss of life’s significance through the difficult marriage that Mrs. Wright had.
Hemingway demonstrates perspectivism in the very first scene of the story when Nick describes the landscape.
2. Before you insert your selected passage, introduce that passage. If you are presenting a passage from your literary text, provide a little context as to where that passage appears in the text. For example:
At the end of the story, Nick expresses fear of the swamp when he says, “…”
If you are presenting the statement of a literary critic or even something from one of my lectures, provide some details about the source. (Not required for the paper) For instance:
Harold Bloom, a famous critic who has studied the work of Hemingway, provides a positive assessment of “Big-Hearted River.” He has said, …
3. Insert your passage. Use proper MLA formatting for punctuating your quotations and for providing a parenthetical citation.
4. At the end of the body paragraph, make sure you explicitly connect your passages to the point you named back in your topic sentence. After your quotation, you may write something like this:
As we can see in these quoted passages from the story, Nick’s life is marked by devastating personal loss, which is hinted at his nervousness throughout his trip.
As you can tell, the body paragraph is a kind of sandwich. Just like a sandwich is two pieces of bread surrounding the meat, your paragraph will have statements you write in your own words surrounding the meat (your literary quotations).
The paper’s body should be three of these sandwich-style paragraphs. Each paragraph should cover one of the three main points that you provided at the end of your introduction.
When you reach the end of your paper, you should provide a full conclusion. A conclusion is a single, short paragraph. It may be two paragraphs for much longer assignments. Here are 3 things you should do in your conclusion:
1. Restate your thesis. However, do not repeat your thesis from your introduction; change the wording. As you revise your thesis, you should make sure the tone sounds stronger and more confident in the conclusion.
2. Summarize your supporting points. Again, you should revise so that your tone is very confident that you have provided the evidence to prove your supporting points.
3. Connect the significance of your literary study to something important currently going on within our culture. For example, if you are trying to explain the Hughes is exploring the loss of truth in “Theme for English B” then you could connect the importance of your interpretation to helping us understand the problems occurring currently in our school systems or in determining what is true or false on the internet. Or, you can provide your personal opinion on the quality of the literary text that you have analyzed. Or, you can connect your conclusion with something that you mentioned in the introduction.
As far as formatting the paper, an MLA paper is written in Times Roman font or Courier New font, 12 pt. size, 1 inch for all margins, and double-spaced. (The entire paper is double-spaced.) Your name and date appear in the top left or top right of the first page of the paper.
In each of your body paragraphs you are REQUIRED to insert at least one quoted passage. I will be grading how you format and punctuate your quotations. The following pages of this guide sheet will cover the two forms for formatting quotations, the short and long forms.
Use the short form when you are quoting any passage that is 3 lines or less, as it appears typed within your paper. Please note that the number in the parentheses is the page number from the textbook for the quote.
Clearly, Bartleby is a singular and mysterious person, as Melville writes, “I believe that no materials exist for a full and satisfactory biography of this man” (2651).
In this variation, the author’s name appears within the parenthetical reference with the page number of the anthology where the passage is found. The author’s name is either in front of the quote OR in the parenthetical. It is NEVER in both spots.
Clearly, Bartleby is a singular and mysterious person. “I believe that no materials exist for a full and satisfactory biography of this man” (Melville 2651).
The following example is taken from an online biography about Melville. The source’s full citation is in the sample work cited page at the end of these helpful hints. Note that websites have no page numbers listed in the parenthetical.
Although Melville found some early success as a writer, he was never confident of his abilities. “After the publication of Moby Dick in October of 1851, Melville was seeing positive reviews of his works in England and America” (Merriman).
Here is a variation for a short passage of poetry. Note that the “/” is inserted into the quoted passage to separate the lines of poetry.
Whitman, in the first stanza, declares, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” (1-3).
The parenthetical (1-3) are the lines of the poem. As an alternative, you could instead just put the page number of the anthology where those lines are printed.
The long form is used for quoted passages that are 4 lines or longer, as it appears typed on your paper. Note all the format changes, particularly the fact that the entire passage starts on a fresh line below the intro phrase and is indented from the left margin 1 tab keys on a regular keyboard. After the quote, when you begin writing again, start on another fresh line, back at the left margin, below the quoted passage.
Clearly, Bartleby as a singular and mysterious person, as Melville writes,
While of other law-copyists I might write the complete
life, of Bartleby nothing of that sort can be done. I
believe that no materials exist for a full and
satisfactory biography of this man. It is an
irreparable loss to literature. Bartleby was one of
those beings of whom nothing is ascertainable, except
from the original sources, and his case those are very
Bartleby shares the same trait of an isolated individual that the American Adam character possesses. [Continue with the paragraph.]
Here is how you quote a section of dialogue from a story. Try to reproduce the paragraph breaks that occur when a new character speaks.
Daisy Miller and Winterbourne have a conversation about how her behavior is hurting her social standing.
“I know why you said that,” said Daisy, watching
“Because you think I go round too much with him!”
And she nodded at her attendant.
“Everyone thinks so—if you care to know,” said
“Of course I care to know!” Daisy exclaimed
seriously. “But I don’t believe it. They are only
pretending to be shocked. They don’t really care a
straw what I do. Besides, I don’t go round so much.”
As we can see in this passage, Daisy has been warned about her loose behavior, but she dismissed those warnings.
Here is a long quote example with poetry. Try to reproduce line breaks and stanza breaks as they appear in the original version in the textbook:
The first stanza declares Whitman’s personal relationship with nature.
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of
summer grass, (1-5)
Whitman establishes his relationship with the mention of the “spear of summer grass.” Also, Whitman wants the reader to share in the perfect relationship with nature, since he says that every “atom” of his also belongs to the reader. [Continue with the paragraph.]
On the next page is an example of a MLA work cited page. All the above example quotations are connected to a source listed on this work cited page, and there are a few extra sources presented just to show you how to do them. For a complete listing of MLA style, you should refer to your MLA handbook or your English 102 handbook, which should have a section on using MLA documentation style. The work cited page is the last page of your paper and always begins at the top of a new sheet of paper. It does not count toward the minimum length of the paper.