English 350: Appalachian Literature
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 dont 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:
Where is the thesis? Is it a clear, specific main idea that I can prove thoroughly in a paper of this length?
Does every paragraph have a main idea that supports the thesis?
Does every detail in the paper support the thesis? Is the main idea the same from beginning to end?
Do the introduction and conclusion have consistent observations about the works of literature the paper discusses?
Are any quotations handled accurately with all needed documentation for quotations or other material from outside sources? Is there a Works Cited list in MLA format?
Have I corrected all errors in sentence structure and mechanics? Will every word and every sentence and mark of punctuation make sense to someone reading this paper?
January 13, 2017
Literature Course Home Page