produce a well-written and well-argued essay that examines a single text for its literary elements.

Once this has been accomplished, one may then tie the explication to a theme related to literature: how lines are constructed, the drift and tenor of metaphors and symbols, rhythm, and how these (and other texual elements tie-in to larger concerns (for example, transcendentalism, dark romanticism, or anti-transcendentalism). You are free to choose the text, but to not complicate matters, I suggest you do not chose more than one. You might even select just a few cantos from song of myself and connect the dots between Whitman’s poetics (which derive from Greek and Hebrew) to ideas that relate to broader concerns of the day. Or, you might chose a single story by Poe to unpack. Be aware, in either case, if you quote (and you must) more than three lines, it shall be in block quotation style. If you quote poetry within a paragraph, then you must use a foreward slash to indicate a new line. For example: Frost writes, “Whose woods are these I think I know / His house is in the village, though. For this assignment, it is better to focus on a literary text (rather than a rhetorical text, such as texts by Thoreau, Fern, Emerson, Fuller, Douglass, or Jacobs; or, for that matter, the Puritans except for Bradstreet). This leaves you free to write about Whitman or Poe or Dickinson or Hawthorne. You may also dissect a poem by Emily Dickinson (if you are brave), or even Twain, even though neither were covered in this course. I will no longer entertain any essay on gender or race issues, as this has been beaten to death throughout the course, and usually without much attention to the details of a text (with notable exceptions–you probably know who you are). To be sure, social justice–whether it’s the Metoo movement or BLM–issues are immensely important. Nobody, not even 75% of America’s Republicans, are happy about ICE caging children on our border and separating families. But it is, I believe, time for you to face a literary text directly. Understand? Those are issues that matter to me enormously, but I wish for you to put them aside just long enough to experience literature for itself. In other words, you will be “formalists,” who consider form and content. You will do close reading, which you now know that Mr. Moreland rejected (Listen to lecture 3.1). Grading Criteria: the following criteria will be used in assessing your paper. Your essay will be judged on:the overall effectiveness of your analysis & the skill of your close reading
the analysis of the literary text
the intellectual complexity of your essay
the depth, thoroughness, and efficiency of your interpretation
the level of skill of your writing (including clarity, cohesiveness, organization and eloquence)
the avoidance of summary and grammatical errors (especially run-ons and sentence fragments)As with all papers in this class, it must conform to the standards of college writing. In this class, I require that essays be: double-spaced, 12 pt. standard font, 1-inch margins, with a clever and interesting title attached (please no cover pages). MLA format is required for this paper: that means you need to include in-text citations and a works cited. Please see the Writing Toolkit module for help. This paper should be around 5-7 pages; anything less may not do justice to the topic. You may view the rubric for the paper here; the syllabus also has information about how I grade your papers.Readings
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Nathaniel Burwell
Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Birth Mark”: 418-29; “Rappaccini’s Daughter”: 430-50; Preface to The House of Seven Gables: 594-95
Edgar Allen Poe, “Sonnet – To Science”: 633; “The Raven”: 637-40; “Philosophy of Composition”: 719-27; “The Tell-Tale Heart”: 691-95; “The Black Cat”: 695-701
Clark Moreland and Karime Rodriguez, “‘Never Bet the Devil Your Head’: Fuseli’s The Nightmare and Collapsing Masculinity in Poe’s ‘The Black Cat'”
Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener”: 1483-1509; Letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, June 1851
Louisa May Alcott, “Transcendental Wild Oats”