Need help-ENGLIT 0300
Part of this writing-intensive course involves substantially revising work you’ve already written. By this point in the semester, you’ve composed three short papers based on online posts—one of which you’ll expand and revise for your final assignment by including the work of another author from our syllabus in your analysis. Here are your objectives for the essay:
- Choose an essay whose argument can accommodate an additional literary text and be taken to greater lengths without breaking
- Find an author’s work that fits comfortably alongside the original text you analyzed and helps to further illuminate your essay’s thesis
- Rework your original essay’s structure and argument to make room for this additional author’s work (you can’t simply leave the original version intact and attach new pages to the end of it)
- Create a balanced analysis of both authors’ work, making sure to talk about and quote from them to an equal extent in your essay’s body
- Cite at least two relevant secondary sources whose ideas about your primary texts and authors will give credence to your own
- Make revisions to the original essay at both a local level (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.) and most importantly global level (sentence/paragraph structure, thesis clarity, textual evidence, flow, etc.), while applying those improved notions to your writing about the newly-added text
CHOOSING AN ESSAY AND ADDING ANOTHER AUTHOR
Let’s say that for your first essay, you wrote about Perks of Being a Wallflower, focusing on the role played by substances like alcohol and drugs in the lives of Charlie and his friends. When writing that essay, you highlighted specific moments when these substances were relied upon the most by certain characters, but you didn’t consider the larger meaning of using one substance versus another (drinking beer versus wine, or smoking pot versus dropping acid). By addressing that angle of your argument, and including other good substance-abuse examples in the narrative as added ammunition, this essay could easily and sensibly be expanded. While reading Eighty Days of Sunlight, you noticed how Jason is also shaped by his experiences with alcohol and soft drugs, with his brother Tommy succumbing to harder drugs. Your original argument about Perks, then, finds a home in Eighty as well. You would find revealing passages in Eighty that clearly compare to the ones you’ve already found in Perks, noting the extent to which they reflect one another.
SYNTHESIZING AND STRUCTURING YOUR NEW ANALYSIS
Of course, it won’t be enough to simply graft the pages on Eighty to the end of your Perks essay; instead, you have to find a way to interweave the Perks and Eighty portions so there’s not a big gap in the middle of your essay separating them. It’s important for your reader to see throughout your essay how these two authors’ texts intersect, rather than wait until the final paragraph to discover that answer. You could go back and forth between each author over the course of your paper: devoting one or two paragraphs to one author which focus one of your main ideas, then examine the same idea in the other author for one or two paragraphs, etc. Additionally, you could talk about each author separately while making sure, when discussing the second author’s work, to refer back to important and related points you raised about the first author’s work earlier in your paper. Since this is a longer essay than the others, you can spend more than one paragraph at the beginning to establish your adjusted thesis. Finally, because you’re dealing with two authors in the same essay, you need to discuss them to an equal extent; spending twice as much time on Perks as you do on Eighty creates an imbalanced paper.
In addition to including a second author’s literature as a primary text alongside your original primary text, you must incorporate at least two secondary sources into your argument which help to support it. For the purposes of this assignment, secondary sources are works of non-fiction that discuss your specific primary texts and/or authors, address your essay’s larger theme, or provide some kind of relevant context (historical, literary, etc.). These sources can be a book-length monograph (written by one person), an article from an academic journal, or a chapter from a book that’s a collection of essays written by different people; no general-reference sources like encyclopedias or dictionaries are allowed. For the hypothetical Perks/Eighty essay, a journal article or essay chapter about Perks would be useful (Eighty is probably too new to have been written about analytically); in addition, a source discussing substance abuse in teens (either real or fictional) would help to give your analysis of the books more context. Regardless of what kind of secondary sources you cite, each one must be credible and directly relevant to your thesis; tell your reader some significant information about a source (the writer’s expertise or the source’s title, for example) when you first cite it. Don’t confine all your secondary sources to the same paragraph or the very end of your essay; spread them out and cite them more than once if you can. In addition, don’t spend as much time discussing your secondary sources as you do your primary sources; the latter literary texts should be your main concern. These secondary sources, along with your primary literary sources, should be listed on a separate Works Cited page in proper MLA format at the end of your essay.
To give you a fuller perspective on your work, you will get feedback on your draft not just from me but from your colleagues as well. I will assign each of you group members with whom you’ll conduct peer reviews of your essay drafts. Here’s the timeline you will follow:
The week of November 28: we will watch the film version of The Piano Lesson
Monday December 5: by 1:00 PM that day, you will email copies of your draft to me and your group members. This draft should be the required length (10-12 pages, plus Works Cited page) so that your readers can get a full sense of how you plan to combine the two authors’ works in your analysis. All drafts are inevitably imperfect, so no one should expect a finished product from you (or you from them). Each student will have two or three drafts to read over and write responses to (I will give you a guide of things to pay attention to in the draft).
December 5 and 7: no classes will be held these days; instead, I will hold one-on-one meetings with students in my office (CL439) to go over your work in progress. I expect you to work on your peer reviews during these days too.
December 9: you will come to class to meet with your group and discuss your notes on each other’s work, exchanging ideas that help to generate deeper thinking about your chosen texts. I will come around to address further questions and give further feedback. Over the next five days, take into consideration your colleagues’ suggestions (and mine as well) as you rework your draft and enhance its qualities.
December 14: The completed version of your paper, ten to twelve pages long with a Works Cited page at the end, is due by noon; drop it in my campus mailbox in CL501 along with the original version of the essay with my comments on it, so I can see the extent to which you revised/expanded it.