English 350: Appalachian Literature, Fall 2010

 Paper Assignments

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

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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.


Comparison Paper (Same Assignment for Everyone):

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 don’t 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:

• 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:


Appalachian Literature Course Home Page

Grading Criteria for Literature Essays