This page presents examples of student work.

Course Assignments

Both written and oral communication will be required. Students are expected to write a minimum of 20 pages of revised writing in spread over four essays and frequent reading responses. One oral presentation as well as active class participation is also required. There will be no examinations.

Class Participation (Including Oral Presentation)

Given that the class format will be group discussion, class participation is a significant component of your grade. Class and conference attendance as well as active participation in both are required. Read the texts thoroughly and come to class prepared to talk about them. More than two unexcused class absences will drop your grade by a letter. More than three unexcused absences will be considered as grounds for failing the course.

Oral Presentation

Every student is required to present a talk in class (7 minutes) on a passage of your choosing from an assigned text on its assigned date. The talk should help stimulate a discussion through arguments and questions. Papers and talks are conceived as exercises in literary interpretation though close analysis of a particular text; generalizations about the meaning of a work — its plot, characters, settings, and themes — should be grounded in detailed study of imagery, tone language and structure. If you choose to present on a passage from Joyce's Araby, for example, you must select a different passage should you decide to write your first paper on that short story. For longer novels, please select a passage appropriate to the class discussion for that day; for example, if you want to present on Giovanni's Room in Ses #11, you must select a passage from the first third of the novel. These talks require practice so that you are not reading exclusively from your notes. In your delivery, face the group, speak loudly enough for all to hear, maintain eye contact with your audience and pace your time.

Written Work

There will be four papers including one required revision during the semester. Late essays will result in 1/3 letter grade reduction for every day (not class) they are overdue. The paper assignments will follow that of the oral presentation; each will be grounded in your primary response and evolving analysis of that work through a specific passage that leads you to larger considerations of the work as a whole. One of the goals of such an essay is to support what you assert for an audience of interested readers.

Essays will be graded on the quality of your ideas about the work and your ability to persuade readers why they matter within a structure that provides them with the clarity and insight all good ideas deserve. For this course, the primary texts are the only ones you will need. All written work submitted must be 12 pt., double-spaced, paginated, with proper margins. Papers deserve carefully considered titles and should be proofread carefully by reading them aloud.

More details about the specific papers due are given below:

Paper 1 (PDF)

Paper 2 (PDF)

Paper 3 (PDF)

Paper 4 (PDF)

Presentations and Essays

For those of you who are preparing upcoming presentations, I encourage you to keep in mind its original purpose — to rehearse and present a talk that is approximately six to seven minutes long on a particular passage from the text. Your presentation should provide a close reading of that passage that considers other approaches than plot alone. Bring into play one of other approaches we have discussed: character development, setting, language, narration, etc.

The whole point of examining a specific passage as your essential evidence is to assist the thinking of you (the producer) and your audience (the consumer). Focusing on a passage, in both the presentations and essays will help you enforce intellectual quality and integrity of the primary novel or story, saving you from making generalizations and loosely based opinions.

Your presentation should be timed and rehearsed so that you can deliver it as a knowledgeable talk. It is your point of view about the implications of the passage for the larger work that should generate discussion/argument rather than general questions posed about the novel or story. For a six to seven minute presentation, limit yourself to one good question that might frame your talk or one that you are left with after your analysis.

Like an essay, it should have a logical structure, with an introduction and a conclusion.

Student Work

Student Assignments
Oran R. Payne

An Encounter (PDF)

(Courtesy of Oran R. Payne. Used with permission.)

MIT Student

Boyhood (PDF)

(Courtesy of MIT Student. Used with permission.)

MIT Student

Paper 2 (PDF)

(Courtesy of MIT Student. Used with permission.)