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398 PL Long Paper Assignment

Page history last edited by Eric Leonidas 3 years, 7 months ago


A long paper is due in my mailbox in Carroll Hall by 5:00 Monday, May 8


The following are required:

  • Advance a claim about the meaning of some aspect of Miltson’s Paradise Lost
  • Approximately 12 pages.
  • Primary evidence will be close reading of the language of the poem, including diction, imagery, allusion, sound, etc.
  • Secondary evidence will include some critical views on the poem, Milton’s culture, or literary theory. 
  • You must incorporate the use of at least one theoretical “concept”
  • MLA format, with quotations properly integrated and cited.
  • Works Cited page


After the topic, claim, and bibliography stages, there are 2 more intermediate steps before the final draft:

  • Prospectus: Due Monday, April 17 (bring 2 copies to class)
  • Rough Draft: Due Monday, April 24


The Prospectus


On Mon, April 17, you’ll bring in two copies of a 3-5 pp. “prospectus” version of your paper.  The prospectus should include an opening paragraph—edited and revised after you receive your "claim" back from me.  After your thesis paragraph will come the following:


  • Some kind of outline.  Some people work in I and II’s, A’s and B’s, 1.s and 2.s, etc.  Not me.  I like to describe sections:  “In this section I’ll show etc., etc., with paragraphs on topic, topic, and topic.”  I don’t care how you do it, but you do have to show some kind of principle of organization.  Be as elaborate and detailed as you can.  Include secondary criticism (just by critic's name and page number) where possible.
  • A “paradigmatic” reading.  Here you should spend a few paragraphs closely reading a passage from Paradise Lost.  I’d like this to be your most critical reading from your whole paper, the moment that’s really going to persuade your reader of your point.  I imagine this falling around the midway point of your outline (it’s hard to say exactly, but it shouldn’t come first—there should be some preliminary explanation, cultural or theoretical, to prepare for your point; nor should it come last, your reader likely having become overly skeptical by then).  You should be able to point to your “outline” and say, “This is where my reading will be.”  The reading should be close, pulling out words and phrases from the quoted passage and discussing these in as much detail as you can muster.  Use the OED, call images and other formal elements by their technical names (per ENG 298).  Really flex those critical muscles. (Yes, it's easy to imagine having 2 or even 3 deeply "central" readings; for instance, in a problem/solution format.  But even there, I would go with the "solution" reading.  And of course you can always include more than one reading in your prospectus!)
  • An elaboration of one theoretical concept.  Here you should give at least one substantial paragraph explaining a term or concept, with citation of source (whether from Guerin, a handout, another source you've found), plus any contextualization within the larger theory that is necessary (for instance, if you invoke “difference” you’re going to need to say something about signs and signifiers too).  Next, either in the same or a separate paragraph, explain in detail how this concept or term will help you argue something about the poem.  Here again you need evidence, this time quoted language from PL.


Please note that in the “prospectus” your outline should follow your thesis; the other two parts (paradigmatic reading and theory concept) should appear in the order they do in your outline.


In class, you will read and comment on another student’s work, and he or she will do the same for yours.




Well, for Monday, April 24, write a draft.  Try to be as comprehensive as possible.  Include a properly formatted "Works Cited," including all of the work you've cited.  Entries should not be annotated.


Be sure to squeeze as much analysis as you can out of your quotations and the poem language you refer to.  I say this because, a., this is often lacking in drafts, and b., careful analysis will drive your argument, and may force it to shift some.  Better to shift as you write the draft than when you return to revise it.


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