Paper 2: One course text and two “Framing Texts”
7-10 pages in MLA format
What we’re doing:
The purpose of this paper is to make an argument based on close analysis of a course text. Review the readings for the course so far, particularly the short stories, essays and poetry. EITHER: Choose a poem or passage to write about, and consider what questions it raises for you OR choose a larger course concept, and then choose a poem or passage that deals with that theme in a particularly interesting way. Then select two critical arguments, one from the nineteenth century (I recommend using the Broadview for this!), and one from the 21st century. The former are likely to deal with broader aesthetic or historical questions, and the latter to be very specific to the text you’ve chosen. Use the critical argument to frame your own reading of the text, using no more than 300 words each to describe what the text says and its importance to your argument. Then develop an argument based on a persuasive reading of the course text.
In class writing and discussion, I’ve asked you to develop your own ideas about passages based on close reading. (Close readings should be “surprising” but “convincing” to anyone reading the passages you chose in context of the larger work.) You should have genuine questions about the specific moments or scenes you select; questions that you would like to answer through the writing process (i.e. questions that you can’t answer immediately – questions that require you to look closely at the text before drawing a conclusion).
This assignment builds on close reading by asking you to listen to what two expert readers have to say and incorporating those arguments into your reading. What does the essay you choose show about the aspect of the text that interests and puzzles you? You’ll agree with some parts of the essay and disagree with others: “frame” your paper by zeroing in on the part of the essay that reveals something about your question about the text you chose. Make a debatable, persuasive argument for how your reader should understand that novel.
Why we’re doing it:
- To practice using textual evidence to create surprising, convincing claims
- To communicate that discovery and practice clear, persuasive writing
- Engage with two opposing perspectives to transform and historicize your own