English 350: Appalachian Literature 

Assignment for Paper 1

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Grading Criteria for English Essays

• Required length of paper: three double-spaced typed pages (at least 750 words)

• This short length means that as you choose your topic, you must refine the focus and develop a very specific thesis that can be supported adequately with only six to ten paragraphs of discussion. Your paper can be longer than the minimum requirement, but don’t pick a focus that would require eight or ten pages.

Deadline: Wed., Feb. 1, 2017. Turn in the essay in the BrightSpace dropbox and bring a hard copy to class.

• Review the paragraph guide and general guidelines on literature papers before, during and after writing your paper (They have not been revised for this particular course but contain some useful general instructions). I would be glad to help with focusing topics, or developing outlines or drafts, any time before the paper is due. The Writing Center is also open for assistance with writing papers. Handbooks on writing about literature and samples of student essays are available in the Composition Center.

Topic: Select one story or poem or picture book we are studying in this course. Discuss a major theme of that story and explain how the motifs and other details in that work support the theme. Consult the List of Themes in Appalachian Literature. If you want, you can compare two closely related short works (poems or stories or essays).

Thesis: Be sure you have a precisely worded thesis in the introduction of your paper, and that each paragraph contains clear ideas and specific examples from the text to support the thesis.

Remember that a thesis must be more than an announcement of your topic. For example, if you are discussing Come a Tide by George Ella Lyon, your introductory sentences will probably identify the author, title and subject of the picture book. This sentence might appear in an introduction but it is NOT an acceptable thesis because it contains only obvious facts: “Come a Tide by George Ella Lyon and Stephen Gammell depicts a mountain community and family dealing with a flood.” Your thesis must state your main idea about the theme of the story or poem. This sentence would be an acceptable thesis for this assignment: “In Come a Tide, the poetic text and colorful illustrations show that hard work, humor and togetherness can help a mountain family and community survive hardships brought by a flood.”

Another example of a thesis statement: “The characters in poems 2 and 41 by Jo Carson reveal that traditional values of sharing food and valuing independence can conflict ironically in some situations.

For more examples of thesis statements on a single work of literature, see this page (all the examples are children's literature and only one focuses primarily on "theme," but most of them do identify themes along with main ideas about particular literary elements): http://www2.ferrum.edu/thanlon/chlit/paper1.htm.

Be sure to develop your own precise thesis. Do not copy one of these examples.

Editing: Follow the instructions for editing and proofreading your paper on the general guidelines on literature papers. Use spell check but use it carefully and do not expect a grammar or spell checker to catch all your errors, since only a human can read your sentences to make sure they have the structure you need and you have typed the right words in the right places. Leave yourself enough time to edit and proofread carefully after you have composed and printed the paper. If the paper is submitted with an excessive number of mechanical errors, I may not be able to read it all or grade it.

Documentation: You are not required or encouraged to use secondary sources in this paper. Your primary source is the story or poem(s) you are discussing. If you quote directly from the text, give the page number(s) in parentheses from the book (web sites and picture books often have no page numbers). If you discuss a poem that fits on one page, use line numbers instead of page numbers to identify quotations. At the end of the paper give a complete citation for your primary source(s), using MLA documentation style. If you do refer to any other sources, it is your responsibility to add complete documentation to them. If sources are misused or documentation is incomplete, I will not be able to grade the paper.

Be sure to read the Grading Criteria for English 207 Essays. (Even though that page is for a 200-level literature course, its list of criteria for papers is relevant to the short paper assignment for 200 and 300-level courses, and it would make a good checklist to use before turning in your papers. And it contains a reminder of the requirements mandated by the college's writing intensive program.)

Don't turn in your paper without revising and editing it, asking yourself the following questions:

January 13, 2017

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