You will pick one of the topics to write about from the topics in
the course modules. In the topics, you will be given some ideas to
think about. You may want to narrow down or write a thesis that is more
specific than the topic given. Feel free to do that.
Create your own thesis from the topic given. If you want to talk
to me about a narrower topic or about writing your thesis for the essay,
please feel free to contact me. Create your own organization, find
supporting quotations and ideas from the work, explain these quotations ,
and link them back to the thesis of the essay. Think about how
character, images, metaphors, and other literary techniques used in the
piece that support the thesis you have created. Remember, you want a
debatable thesis for these essays. That is, you want a thesis with
which a sensible person might conceivably disagree.
Do not simply tell the plot of the story, poem or play you are
writing about. Do not simply summarize the events of the story, poem,
or play. Instead, concentrate on YOUR interpretation of the work as it
relates to the topic you have chosen for your paper.
Compose your essay in your word processor so that you can edit,
revise, save alternate versions, spell check and so on. Be sure to make
rough drafts, read and re-read them, send to other students to read,
and so forth. Revise your paper. Proofread the final copy for the
usual spelling, mechanics, grammar, and punctuation issues that English
professors look for. Get input on your essay from your group members or
other classmates by emailing a copy of your essay to them.
Most of these essays do not require the use of secondary sources,
only the primary text, or the work of literature you’re reading itself.
In fact, I would strongly encourage you to not look at outside sources
if the essay does not require the use of them. I find that when
students use outside sources when not required, the essays often end up
sounding canned, unoriginal, and boring. I am more interested in what
you have to say in these essays rather than what somebody else says. A
few prompts do require an outside source or two. If you do use an
outside souice, you need a Works Cited page with the source or sources
properly properly listed, MLA style. If you only use a primary text and
you are getting the text from our anthology, you do not need a Works
Cited page. If, for some reason (and I hope you do not do this) you do
not use the text in our anthology and use a different version of the
text, you must cite that source on a Works Cited page.
I take plagiarism very seriously, and every semester wind up failing
a number of students who submit plagiarized essays. I would like very
much to not be forced to do that any more. I am not going to have a
long discussion about just what constitutes plagiarism here. I assume
you had those discussions in your Composition classes. I know, however,
that there are times when students genuinely do not know if something
they are doing in an essay would constitute plagiarism. If you ever
have a doubt or a lingering question, please ask me. Trust me, you do
not want me to find you guilty of plagiarism.
Essay length: 500 word minimum. 500 words will be a very short
essay, though, and 500-word essays are rarely very thorough. The
stronger essays are more often in the 750- word range.
Blake and Wordsworth Essay Prompt 1: Here is a prompt for a really
off-the-wall essay that will require some work but might be a lot of fun
and be really impressive. Van Morrison is a rock and roll legend whose
music some of you might know. Download the song “Summertime in
England.” It is from his often cryptic 1980 album Common One.
In it, he mentions both Blake and Wordsworth. Indeed, he admires them
both, as he does many of the English poets. Find more music of Van
Morrison, from this or any other of his albums. Can we see, in the
music, traces of his admiration for either Blake or Wordsworth? He
doesn’t often mention them by name, necessarily, but does Morrison deal
with some of the same themes and ideas as either poet? If you write
this essay, you’ll need to quote from and show that you understand
specific poems of either Blake or Wordsworth. (I think an essay dealing
with both Blake AND Wordsworth, and Morrison, would be too much.
Choose ONE of the poets. You might even limit your discussion to one or
two poems.) You’ll also need to quote from Morrison’s song lyrics and
describe the song or songs about which you’re writing. Quote song
lyrics and document those lyrics as you would a poem, by line number,
and provide a Works Cited entry that shows where I can find the song
lyrics you used. I happen to be a big Morrison fan, but some of what I’m saying, here,
can be said about a lot of rock music. I can’t think of any other rock
musician, off the top of my head, who specifically mentions Blake or
Wordsworth, but I’m sure somebody does. Nevertheless, is there another
rock musician or band that you especially like, and can you compare and
contrast that musician’s treatment of a theme found in Blake or
Wordsworth? Again, see the notes above about documentation. You don’t
need to make a claim about direct influence, but rock and roll is, at
its heart, a Romantic genre, and I can imagine your using song lyrics
from any number of rock bands or artists to write an interesting essay