Prof. Jonathan Glance

Paper #1

Dates: Paper Due: Monday, 11 September, in class.
Draft Workshop: Tuesday, 5 September
Revision Workshop: Wednesday, 6 September
Length: 3–4 typed pages

Assignment:
This paper will be an independent response to one of the short stories assigned for class. I want you to select some aspect of that story for analysis, and write an essay in which you explain why you think that aspect is significant; in other words, you will argue why an understanding of that aspect is important for an appreciation of the story. You can analyze a theme, the method of narration, a symbol, a character, the point of view, the tone, the setting, etc., but make sure you focus your attention on a sufficiently limited topic. For example, you could not successfully analyze in depth the narrator of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” in a paper of this length, but you could analyze how the narrator’s handling of a specific incident—such as his ambiguous descriptions of Peyton Fahrqhar’s trek home—is significant, and how it contributes to the overall meaning or tone of the story. A good analysis concentrates on details: you should quote portions of the story to show how the text supports your thesis. Then you should offer comments and analysis that show how the portion you’re interpreting contributes to the work as a whole. As a general rule, “say more about less”: limit your focus to a small enough topic so that you can cover it in detail in this brief paper.

For this paper, you should make use only of the story and your own imagination. Do not consult secondary sources for ideas or theories—you will get to use them later. You may, however, refer to a dictionary.

Suggested Procedure:
   1) Think about the stories, and select an aspect that seems both significant and manageable in scope. You might begin by looking at a key scene or passage, or by examining a passage that seemed puzzling to you when you first read it.
   2) Reread that selection several times, until you have an idea of its overall meaning or purpose or significance. Jot down notes.
   3) Narrow your focus to the aspect of that passage that seems to you to create the meaning or significance: is it the incident itself? the style in which the author relates it? what it reveals about the characters? what it contributes to the structure of the story? something else? Decide on one of these aspects.
   4) Construct a thesis that indicates a) your focus, and b) the relation of that focus to the story as a whole. You need a thesis because you are arguing for your interpretation of the story. The thesis should not be so obvious that your reader will say “so what?”; don’t settle for trite generalizations. Instead, make a statement which indicates thought and depth, and which requires support and proof. Your goal should be to illuminate for the readers some point that they might not have noticed upon first reading the story.
   5) Find evidence in the text to support your thesis, and organize the rest of your essay around these quotations and examples. Don’t rely on generalizations about or paraphrases of the story to convince your reader, but provide specific evidence and discuss the importance of that evidence for your thesis.
   6) Conclude your paper by summing up your argument so that the readers see that your evidence does support your thesis, and by indicating how your focusing aspect works within the context of the whole story.

Format and Conventions:
   1) Put quotation marks around story titles.
   2) Follow direct quotations with the author’s name (not the editors’ name or the title) and page numbers from your text, in parentheses. Close the quotation marks before the citation; put the end punctuation after it. For example: “Thus she passed from generation to generation—dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, perverse” (Faulkner 31).
   3) Always write about literature in the present tense.
   4) Your essay should be analytical, and your audience will be your classmates. Thus you should not waste your (or your reader’s) time with plot summary.
   5) Your paper should be typed, double–spaced, on 8 1/2" by 11" white paper. In the upper left-hand corner of your first page, include:
Your name
My name
The course and section number
The date
Below this block of information, center your title; begin your text below that. Use an interesting, informative title—“Paper #1” is mildly informative, but completely uninteresting. Number your pages (after the first) in the top right-hand corner, with your last name and the page number.

The preceptor and I will be happy to discuss ideas for this paper, or examine rough drafts.