Midterm Essay Exam
The book being used is The Norton Introduction to Literature (Portable Eleventh Edition) By: Kelly J. Mays. ISBN-13: 978-0393923391
****THE “A” PAPER The A paper is a superior piece of work that is a pleasure to read. Although it is not necessarily flawless, it is outstanding work. The A paper excels in all the criteria of good writing. The subject is treated in a relatively original manner, revealing keen perception, mature judgment, and sound logic. The writer uses language with sensitivity, vitality, and fluency.****
This 2-4 page Midterm Essay Exam is worth 5% of your final grade. The purpose of this essay is to develop a convincing argument that analyzes literature in a thoughtful manner. Your analysis should demonstrate you are familiar with literary terms and concepts explored in The Norton Introduction to Literature and the writing strategies examined in the handouts “Literary Analysis vs. Plot Summary” and “Writing about Literature.”
For this assignment, you will select the one story that is highlighted of the following readings to analyze:
• David Foster Wallace’s “Good People” (149-155) In the file titled: week 3 reading
• Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog” (164-178)
• Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “Volar” (196-198)
• Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birth Mark” (211-225)
• Edwidge Danticat’s “A Wall of Fire Rising” (226-239)
You are also welcome to use outside sources to help with your analysis. If you choose to research the reading you’ve selected, your paper might reference the following:
• Critical or analytical essays from the Internet
• An author’s personal comments
• Book reviews
Remember to position your argument in relation to these sources, for I do not want to see a complete lack of your own original argument!
To better understand the type of writing expected with this assignment, you can review the following sample essays:
• “A Narrator’s Blindness in Raymond Carver’s ‘Cathedral’” (53-56) In the file titled: Norton Intro to Lit pages 44-69
• “The Importance of Good Setting: How Setting Reflects Emotions in Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Lady with the Dog’” (199-204) In the file titled: week 3 reading
Most importantly, your writing should predominately focus on interpreting and analyzing the reading in similar ways as these sample essays.
Since this paper must focus on a thesis statement, here are some tips for composing it:
1. A Successful Argumentative Thesis Statement will . . .
• Assert the focus of your paper in one, two, or maybe even three sentences
• Function as a road map for organizing your body paragraphs
2. The thesis statement traditionally appears as the last sentence of the introduction.
• However, some essays warrant a different structure, and it is possible to write a great paper with a thesis that is in an unconventional place.
• If you decide to experiment with the placement of your thesis, please be sure to underline it so that your reader (especially your instructor) will be able to identify your main focus.
3. Many students find it useful to invent their thesis by starting with a pressing question and then (after sufficient research) answering the question.
• For example, a student may start with the question: What causes the protagonist’s mental health decline in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”?
• But, a thesis statement cannot stand just as a question, so the next step is to explore its answer by:
o Re-reading the piece of Literature to look for evidence
o Conducting research to better understand the author, the time period, the culture, other people’s interpretations, etc.
o Asking peers, family members, and friends for ideas
• After taking these steps, one can answer the question. Here is a sample thesis from this process:
In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the protagonist suffers from post-partum depression in a time period when this condition went unrecognized, and her mental health worsens because she is misdiagnosed and mistreated by a male dominated healthcare system that subjugates women with “cures” that would make anyone crazy.
Extra Credit Pre-Write Opportunity: You can read and take notes on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (pages 307-320 in Norton’s Introduction to Literature)
4. Here are some other thesis statements taken from sample essays in Norton’s Introduction to Literature:
Instead of focusing on plot, then, the story really asks us to focus on the characters, especially the husband who narrates the story. Through his words even more than his actions the narrator unwittingly shows us why nothing much happens to him by continually demonstrating his utter inability to connect with others or to understand himself. (53)
During the course of the narrative, the setting Chekhov maps out shows the progression of Dmitri’s affair with Anna Sergeyevna, Dmitiri’s state of mind, and the changes that Dmitri undergoes. The setting in this story is just as important as any character. In fact, . . . the setting is the single most important component of the story. (199-200)
Assignment Formatting Guidelines:
• All papers must be double spaced and typed in a standard 12p font (Times New Roman).
• Margins should not be larger than one-inch on the top, bottom, and sides of the page.
• Meet the minimum length requirements (2 pages means 2 full pages of writing, not including the works cited page).
• Type in the upper left (or right) hand corner of your paper:
• The center heading of your paper must be a title other than the name of the assignment (for example, something like “A Narrator’s Blindness in Raymond Carver’s ‘Cathedral,’” not “Midterm Essay Exam”).
• Italicize the titles of books, research journals, magazines, newspapers, and plays.
• Use “Quotation marks” around titles of articles, blogs, short stories, published essays, and poems.
• Your writing must utilize MLA style citation when referencing outside resources. If you use words that are not your own, be sure to put quotes around them and to credit the original author. This is an essential step in avoiding penalties for plagiarism.
Failure to comply with any of the above requirements will negatively impact the grade you earn for your assignment.
Midterm Essay Exam