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ENG ENL 3230 -- Essay 2

    Topic due -- March 23

    Formal Essay due -- April 13

    Length: 6-8 pages


  • For students to demonstrate writing skills and critical thinking in a critical research paper of 6-8 pages;

  • For students to research the life of a single author from the syllabus ; or

  • For students to analyze the content and form of one or more works in an extended essay; or

  • For students to make an argument on the relevance of one or more aspects of the material in class to contemporary life based on research and examples.



    After you choose a writer who interests you, read at least one book-length biography on that author. I strongly encourage you to read more than one biography, if available, in order to judge the representations more objectively. These extras need not be book-length biographies. THere are many references that include article length biographies. (You'd be surprised how differently two biographers will present the same person!) If you choose an author for whom there is no major biography, you will have to be more resourceful. Try any one of the variety of indexes available in the Reference section of the library; also try the Dictionary of Literary Biography. I have created a list of eighteenth-century resources keyed to our library that will point you in the right direction. Also, do not forget to use the Internet. My homepage also has a list of links to relevant sites as well as links to search engines where you can find an abundance of resources.

    Your paper should summarize the life of the author and use that biography as a way to understand his or her literature. Therefore, you should incorporate an understanding of the author's literature in your biography. Make an argument for how the biography enhances your understanding of a specific aspect of his or her work.


    Following Birenbaum's guidelines in Chapter 1, "Analysis examines ways in which the work achieves its particular effects, demonsrating its technical features" (11). He highlights questions of style, genre and conventions (pp. 31-39), but other issues of representation are also germane. Your goal is to articulate a reasoned response to a literary work or more than one work that involves analyzing how the effects were achieved. Consequently, this paper moves us beyond technical appreciation to a more comprehensive appreciation of the composite project of the work.

    If you choose this option, you should be writing about one of the authors from the syllabus and any number of works by that author. You might read further into the canon of works by that author than directed by the syllabus. You need not, but if you choose to do outside research, be careful to cite appropriately. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE A CRITIC'S OPINION FOR YOUR OWN.

    Relevance Essay:

    Because so much of the literature of the eighteenth century has bearing on our own social and political ideas, one could make an argument for the relevance of a particular work (or works) of art as a lens through which to view our own social or political problems. For instance, Swift's attitudes toward politics or lawyers or Cowper, Behn and Equiano on issues of race may have relevance for enduring patterns of behavior in society today. Whatever issue or literature you choose, be clear in defining the ways in which the eighteenth-century literature helps you to understand your own society. Be certain to ground your arguments about the contemporary world in a source outside your own opinion. For this, you may want to do research in media or references. At any event, do not simply state a problem as self-evident; always support your claims, whether for the eighteenth or for the twentieth century.


    Be sure to include a thesis that summarizes your argument or theme. A thesis is an essential element (even in a research paper) that tells the reader what he or she can expect to find in the following essay.

    Include a bibliography written according to MLA standards. If you need a reference for these rules, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers is available in the bookstore; or you can find a quick-reference sheet to these rules in the Library and in the back of The Happy Critic.

    For your topic statement due March 23, include as much of the actual paper draft you have composed at that time. This will allow me to give you detailed critical feedback before the final paper is due. Also include your preliminary bibliography.

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