Four-page analysis of the assigned reading. See "Points of Clarification" below for more info.

Double spaced
MLA header (scroll down)
Clever and creative title
Critical (beyond the obvious). NOT A SUMMARY. I do not want a "book" report. You are to make judgments and then support them.
Examples/quotations (properly cited & integrated)
Proper MLA formatting and citations
Grammatically/stylistically correct (grade is based on quality of writing AND level of critical thinking/analysis)
No works-cited page required, unless you quote/paraphrase from outside sources.


When you write an issues question and/or a mini-essay, you do not have to incorporate the entire text or assigned reading.

For example, let's say that on Sept. 15th, the following assignment is due: Read the Iliad Books I-VIII, and write a mini-essay (1302 and American Lit. students will not read the Iliad--this is just an example).

You will write ONE mini-essay for this assignment--your essay may incorporate all of the books or just one of them or just a common theme. It's up to you!

If not specified, the focus/topic of your essay is up to you. You may analyze a theme, a character, an action, an exchange or argument between two characters, or be creative--for example, you could write an essay comparing how President Bush would have handled an Iliadic-like war situation as opposed to how the Trojan and/or Greek leaders do handle the war. OR, you may examine the text or a theme from a Socratic perspective or from a liberal and/or conservative perspective.

DUE: Various times throughout the semester; see assignments schedule.

****These essays comprise a large portion of your course grade, so make sure that you proofread and follow directions. You should spend time reflecting, brainstorming, writing, and revising. In other words, please take the mini-essays seriously; these are not just busy work.


PAST TENSE: always use present tense (unless you are writing about history OR a character's flashback) when writing about literature, films, TV, songs, websites, articles, and art.
You (it is ok to sparingly use I)               
Thing(s): use a more precise word


Click here for more grading criteria.
"Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he [or she] avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell." — William Strunk Jr. in Elements of Style


**A note about theses statements: every mini-essay should have some sort of thesis statement.
A strong thesis is absolutely essential to a successful essay. Without it, your essay will seem unfocused and fuzzy—it will seem to have little direction, and readers may have a hard time understanding what you wanted to accomplish. A clear thesis, on the other hand, helps you and the reader stay on track. Without an clear thesis, it will be impossible to write a well developed, unified, coherent essay.
If you want to write an effective thesis, begin by remembering a simple equation:


THESIS = subject + point (assertion/judgment/opinion/interpretation/meaning)


As expressed above, the thesis names your general subject and makes an assertion about that subject. It states the topic and the point you want to make about that topic.
In the short story, “The Guest” by Albert Camus, the central idea is that acts of conscience cannot be shared.
In Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday Use,” the central idea is that true appreciation of family is often shown through daily demonstration, or everyday use.
In “The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter” by D.H. Lawrence, the tone of despair is reflected through the use of language: specifically, diction and irony.

The conflict that the protagonist faces as she represses her individuality, and the isolated, ranch setting reinforce the central idea that society’s enforcement of gender roles can lead to resignation and depression.

The self-sacrificing character of Roselily, in “Roselily” by Alice Walker, is revealed through the first person point of view.

[Sample Title Page]

Concerning punctuation, you have three options:
A. Introduce the quotation with a complete sentence (long phrase) and a colon.
Example: Thoreau ends his essay with a metaphor: "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in" (160).
B. Use an introductory or explanatory phrase, but not a complete sentence, separated from the quotation with a comma.
Example: Thoreau asks [states, writes, claims, and so on], "Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?" (163).
C. Make the quotation a part of your own sentence without any punctuation between your own words and the words you are quoting (you will usually use that).
Example: According to Thoreau, people are too often "thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails."
The above explanations and examples from:
***Never let a quotation stand alone, i.e. be its own sentence

**Use the writing center (see link at bottom of every page in Blackboard)

**Helpful websites: