Assessment #1   [PDF]

(Analytical Essay)

The purpose of this assignment is to think specifically and critically about a particular text and how it engages with the ideas of Romanticism, feminism, or revolution, as we are exploring them in the context of the subject.  It is also a way to prepare you for the final paper.  This paper is worth 40% of your final grade.

Assignment:  Choose any of the texts we have read to date (Wollstonecraft, Robinson, Blake, Radcliffe OR Hays), and analyze that text in the terms of ONE of the following topics (as we are exploring them in the context of the subject): Romanticism, revolution OR feminism.  Use secondary resources to support your thesis. Be sure to address: How does the topic manifest in the text? What is important about this particular manifestation of the topic?  What does this text add to in terms of the “conversation” of the topic? (There are suggestions below, to get you thinking.) 

Some ideas to think about:

  • The Vindication is motivated by a desire to extend to women the revolutionary possibilities that suddenly seemed available for “mankind” in the early 1790s. 
  • The ideal female citizen is represented by Wollstonecraft as a creature of reason rather than sensibility.
  • Rejection of sensibility is one of the central planks of Wollstonecraft’s program for female equality in the Vindication

*** for the Blake ideas that follow, don’t forget to discuss text and illumination. Facsimiles of the poems are available from

  • “In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Satan is presented as a model for the emancipated subject.”
  • Think about Blake’s program for radical change in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
  • Think about the implications of the ending of Visions of the Daughters of Albion.
  • Think about Blake’s engagement with the problem of female desire in a patriarchal society.
  • Think about Radcliffe’s representation of the heroine of sensibility in Romance of the Forest.
  • Think about the politics of the family in Romance of the Forest.
  • The Sappho myth is both empowering and limiting to female writers.  Think about the ways that      this manifests in Robinson’s work.
  • “Sappho and Phaon” addresses the idea of the female poet in the later eighteenth century.
  • Hays’ attempts to put early “Wollstonecraftian” feminism into practice through her novel.

Strong analytical essays will:

  • Be well planned and well organized.  Be about 1500 words long.
  • Have a controlling idea (a clear thesis argument or statement), be coherent (what you write should make sense), and be cohesive (your ideas should “stick” together logically).
  • Use the space to analyze the text in terms of the assignment—avoid plot summary and personal opinion.
  • Use specific examples from the text to support your point and critically analyze those examples.
  • Have well-developed paragraphs and sentences.
  • Contain secondary research materials (scholarly articles and books) that are appropriately chosen, correctly interpreted, and “in conversation” with your idea.
  • Be properly formatted according to MLA standards (refer to the English department’s Essay Writing Guide or MLA online 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.