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Paper 1 instructions, English 105, Dr. Olson


Paper assignments intend to give you practice in four things. 

·      Closely reading, engaging with, and reflecting on a story, poem, of other literary work (or works)

·      Reasonably interpreting a theme of a literary work (or works)

·      Writing correct and controlled prose


Here are the basic rules:

  • You may write about any story, poem, stories, or poems that we have read for the class.  There are "Suggestions for Writing" spread throughout our textbook.  Skim over the Detailed Table of Contents starting on page xiii, and you will see several of them.  Check some out, particularly after sections that we've read things from.  You should be able to find a good topic among these “Suggestions for Writing.” 

   Not all of the topics will lead to good papers, so ask me about the topic if you are uncertain.  You may fine-tune a topic if that will make it work better.  For example, some topics pose a few questions, but answering them all might make for a disjointed or too general paper.  In that case you will want to write about only the one or two questions that you can make a logically coherent paper from.  Or, the question might ask you to write about three works, but you think you can do better writing about only two.  Then write about only those two.  Or, you might change one, two, or all of the works that the textbook applies the question to.  If in doubt, check with me.

  • Each paper
    • will be typed in 12 point font (no fancy or elaborate fonts or colors),
    • will be double-spaced,
    • will have one-inch margins,
    • will be at least 900 words long (3 pages) or more.
  • Your paper must have a title.  Make the title helpful in indicating the topic of the paper—not just “Barn Burning.”  What about “Barn Burning”?
  • The first sentence will contain the author’s complete name and the work’s complete title and will identify the theme that you will respond to. 
  • The rest of the introductory paragraph will indicate how the work (or works) embody that theme, what it (they) says about it essentially. The thesis/central idea of the paper will focus on the specific theme you are addressing in the work(s).
  • The body of the paper will, obviously, break down the thesis into logical parts/sub-section, will explain (develop) those sub-sections, and will explain how each sub-section relates to the thesis.
  • I am not requiring that you do secondary research, but you certainly may.  If you do secondary research, use credible sources—the kind of sources that you used (hopefully) in ENG 101.  Secondary sources must be documented correctly according to MLA style with sources—that means in-text citations and entries in the Works Cited list are necessary.
  • Even if you do not use secondary sources, you must have a Work Cited list at the end, though it may only have one entry in it (the literary work you are writing about).
  • The paper will be formatted according to MLA style.  Formatting refers to margins, spacing, font, title, heading material, page numbering, quotation conventions, etc.
  • One main difficulty of this assignment is that it is very short.  You must have tight control of your language at the word and sentence levels.  Make every word and sentence count.  Each sentence must say something worthwhile and must clearly flow from the sentence before it to the sentence after it (so that the overall paper is coherent).  Your prose will be carefully crafted—that means grammatically and mechanically correct.  And it will be coherent—that means there will be a logical flow of ideas clearly recognizable to someone else in this class (but someone who has not necessarily pored over the work as you have).
  • Turn in the paper through Blackboard before 11:59 p.m. on the day it is due.
  • 7 years ago
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