English 350: Appalachian Literature, Fall 2010
Dr. Tina L. Hanlon
Appalachian Literature Course Home Page
Paper 1 was due Oct. 7. If your grade was unsatisfactory, you should revise it by Nov. 5. This paper should have been 3 pages long. If it was, you need to complete 9 more pages of formal writing to satisfy the college's writing requirements for English 350 (in addition to several pages of writing on your tests--the college requirement is 15 or more pages of formal writing in a Writing Intensive course).
Reminder: Review the general guidelines for writing and editing papers that are on the pages for Paper 1 and the Grading Criteria for English 207 Essays.
Options for Papers 2 and 3:
If you wrote 3 pages for paper 1, you'll need to complete 9 more pages of formal writing. Thus your remaining papers should be 4-5 pages long each. Just be sure you have fulfilled the college writing requirements by the end of the semester.
Comparison paper. See guidelines below. Everyone must do this one but you can do it for the 2nd paper, Nov. 11 deadline, or 3rd paper, Dec. 10 deadline. Other options:
Short paper on Blue Ridge Folklife Festival or the exhibit(s) at the Blue Ridge Institute
Paper on an Appalachian novel you choose, one not assigned to the whole class.
Paper on your project topic.
DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. IT IS NOT WORTH THE RISK OF FAILING THE ASSIGNMENT OR THE COURSE, OR WORSE.
Use this assignment for paper 2 or 3.
As you choose your topic, you must refine the focus and develop a very specific thesis that can be supported adequately with only eight to twelve paragraphs of discussion. Your paper can be longer than the minimum requirement, but dont pick a focus that would require eight or ten pages.
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 Writing Center.
Topic: Discuss one issue of Appalachian literature, using at least two works of literature we have been studying OR comparing two characters or scenes within the same novel. Consult the List of Themes in Appalachian Literature if you need help deciding on a focus, but you might limit any one of those themes more specifically than the general topics on that list.
If you wish to use literature not in the Higgs anthology and not assigned for the course or suggested below, discuss your plan with the professor well in advance.
Examples of possible topics:
Role of the folk hero in two folktales or ballads
Comparing two folktale variants or two tales with similar plots, such as "Munsmeg" and "Mutsmag," or "Mutsmag" and "Jack and the Bean Tree" or Jack and the Wonder Beans (by James Still) or two retellings of the Cherokee Selu myth
Comparing a film adaptation and written version of an Appalachian folktale or other story (e.g., "Mutsmag" and Mutzmag)
Comparing characters of Pretty Pearl, John de Conquer or John Henry (pick two) in The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl
Comparing the problems of African Americans and Native Americans in The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl
Comparing two humorous stories
Emotional or personal significance of a particular folk tradition depicted in two works
Effects of eminent domain as presented in Durwood Dunn's essay "Eminent Domain" and Candice Ransom's picture book When the Whippoorwill Calls. (Another example in a children's novel is Carolyn Reeder's Grandpa's Mountain, New York: Avon/Camelot, 1991)
Views on coal mining in Still's poems or novels, in Baber's "The Stripping of Cold Knob," in George Ella Lyon's Mama is a Miner, or Moore's story "Because the Earth is Dark and Deep" (The last two would make a good comparison of views on women miners.)
Types of prejudice represented in two works of literature (racial or class or other type of prejudice)
Views of living on the land in two works
Depictions of leaving home and/or loyalty to Appalachian homes in two works
Celebrations of the natural world in two works
Comparing Gypsy's and Woodrow's problems with their parents in Belle Prater's Boy
Analyzing how Gypsy and Woodrow help each other in Belle Prater's Boy
Comparing Blind Benny and Woodrow in Belle Prater's Boy
Conflict of the mother and father over where to live in River of Earth
Comparing a child's relationship with an adult in two works, or within one novel
Relationship between humans and other animals in two works, or within one novel
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 and Mama is a Miner by George Ella Lyon, your introductory sentences will probably identify the author, titles and subject of the picture books. This sentence might appear in an introduction but it is NOT an acceptable thesis because it contains only obvious facts:
Come a Tide and Mama is a Miner by George Ella
Lyon depict mountain families dealing with hard work. 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 both Come a Tide and Mama is a Miner, the poetic text and colorful illustrations show that hard work and togetherness can help families cope with difficulties of
life in the mountains.
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.
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 literature 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 complete citations for your primary sources, 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 (covers the basics required in upper level courses as well).
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
introduction and conclusion have consistent observations about the works of
literature the paper discusses?
Appalachian Literature Course Home Page
Grading Criteria for Literature Essays