Analytical Response Papers   [PDF]

The purpose of these assignments is three-fold.  First, they give you a chance to work through and solidify ideas that you have about a certain aspect of the text.  Secondly, they communicate your individual thoughts to me about the readings.  Finally, they are a chance for you to practice for the final project.  These will be commented upon on a letter scale, using the grading rubric I’ve provided as a basis for evaluation.  You should feel free to take risks and explore in these responses.  Each response accounts for 20% of your final grade.

Assignment:  Choose one of the suggested texts (focus on only one text: one play, one poem, one prose selection).  Find one aspect of the reading that interests, excites, or frustrates you (a character, a scene, a repetition, an idea) and choose specific textual passages that outline that issue.  Then, critically analyze that issue through the text; in other words, tell me why this aspect is important to understanding the text as a whole.  Use specific examples from the text in order to explore the issue and support your ideas.  Feel free to include ideas from class lecture and class discussion.  (You do not need to do any additional research for these papers.)

You must turn in two analyses during the course of the semester.  Which texts you choose to respond to are up to you, though I strongly suggest turning in as many early in the semester as possible.  You may not write on the same subject twice.

Due dates:

Week 2:            Response #1 due (Fair Jilt, Fantomina, OR The History of the Nun)

Week 4:            Response #2 due (The History of the Nun, The Wife’s Resentment, The City Jilt, OR

                        “The Lady’s Revenge”)

Week 6:            Response #3 due (The British Recluse, Love Intrigues OR Love in Excess)

Week 8:            Response #4 due (Love in Excess, OR the Reformed Coquette)

Strong responses will:

  • Be well planned and well organized.  Be about 3-4 pages long.
  • Have a controlling idea (a clear thesis statement), be coherent (what you write should make sense), and be cohesive (your ideas should “stick” together logically). Have well-developed paragraphs and sentences.
  • Use the space to analyze the text in terms of the assignment—avoid plot summary.
  • Use specific examples from the text to support your point and critically analyze those examples.
  • Use secondary sources appropriately, accurately, and pertinently.
  • Be properly formatted according to MLA standards (refer to A Pocket Style Manual pages 148-154 for proper formatting).  Please staple your paper together.
  • Be proofread and mechanically correct (no typos, no misspelled words, use correct grammar, punctuate properly etc.)
  • Be enjoyable to read.  This is best accomplished by exploring an idea that interests you.

Helpful Hints:

  • Take notes as you read the texts so that you will have a place to start writing.
  • Set aside enough time; estimate an hour per page.
  • Choose a section of the text that is of interest to you.
  • Prepare a summary or gloss of the section first: if you aren’t sure what is going on, you will have trouble analyzing effectively.
  • Free write for a bit; give yourself a chance to see what you think before you try and organize your ideas for me.
  • Give yourself time to put the response away and come back to it later (at least an hour or two, preferably overnight).  This will help you with ideas and with proofreading.
  • Exchange papers with a classmate and make comments for each other.