Due: Th 12/8 by 5pm via email as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf attachment. Please include your last name in your file name.

Length: 1500-2000 words, not including Works Cited (Times New Roman 12 pt font; one inch margins; name, date, class on top left in body of the page rather than in the header)

Title Template: [Clever Quote or Phrase]: [Your Critical Key Term(s)] in [Author’s First and Last Name’s] [“Poem”]

For your final essay assignment in ENG 3050, you’ll choose one poem assigned from Week 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 and compose an essay that posits your own unique but informed interpretation of that poem within the context of what critics have already said about your author/poem as well as within the context of original research you’ve conducted into the author’s biography, historical moment, literary period, and body of work. Like most essays about literary texts, a research essay begins with a brief summary of your text, but this is followed by a summary of critical trends in its interpretation, taking into account the claims made by relevant critical sources. Next, your essay develops your own “I say” thesis in response to what your critical sources have already said, articulating why your specific findings are significant.

The rest of your essay develops examples in support of your thesis. These examples will demonstrate your ability to a) read closely and explicate a poem’s content and form, b) integrate the findings of previous critical sources about your poem/author/topic into your argument, c) formulate your own unique but informed interpretation of the poem, and d) conduct reliable research on an author’s biography and historical/literary contexts in order to set your findings about the poem on the sure footing of sourced evidence. Throughout, you’ll need to use precise, specialized terminology appropriate for the advanced study of literature and develop critical key terms and concepts that draw on reliable research (at least two, but no more than four, sources). You conclude your research essay by summarizing your argument, reviewing your evidence, and considering the larger implications of what your essay means for future interpretations of the poem.

Review: A research paper draws on a variety of critical and historical sources in order to develop a unique and reliable interpretation of a poem. The evidence, examples, and explications used in a research essay use more than one type of strategy and more than one type of source to persuade the essay’s readers, including close reading, analytical engagement with critical sources, and facts about the author’s biography and historical contexts gleaned from reliable resources.

Grading Criteria:

  • Does the essay use an appropriate number and range of critical sources to characterize a trend in interpretations of the poem? Do these sources conform to the conventions of specialized, advanced research in academic contexts? Are they well-chosen?
  • Does the essay also use sources appropriately to establish facts about the author’s life and relevant historical/literary contexts for interpreting the poem? Do these sources conform to the conventions of specialized, advanced research in academic contexts? Are they well-chosen?
  • Does the essay accurately and purposefully summarize the poem?
  • Does the essay include a thesis statement that is productively and reliably engaged with both critical sources and reliable research on the author’s biography and historical/literary contexts?
  • Does the essay provide examples in support of its thesis that integrate the writer’s close readings of passages with those of the critical sources and the writer’s research into biographical, historical/literary contexts?
  • Does the essay demonstrate the writer’s ability to introduce, integrate, and explicate passages from the poem as well as from the critical sources?
  • Is the essay purposefully and logically organized, making use of clear transitions, critical key terms, and sentence tags throughout?
  • Does the essay follow the conventions of writing about literary texts in formal, advanced academic contexts?
  • Does the essay conform to conventions of style, grammar, and citation?
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