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Hon 230 Writing Assignments 1-4

Page history last edited by Eric Leonidas 1 year, 11 months ago


Writing Assignments HON 230


Please Note: Some of you are still struggling a little with quotation format, signal phrases, and citation. If we've made any marks on your quotes or quote introductions, please take another look at my citation page (from a Shakespeare class), and here's a second version from my literary studies course.


The essence of the short writing assignments is to practice your skills in analyzing literary language.  For each, you are to choose a passage and squeeze as much meaning out of it as possible. In a sense, this is a one-paragraph essay whose principal focus is close literary analysis.


1. Read the text selection assigned for the date the RA is due. Then, choose one short passage that you think is critical to a meaning of the novel, play or poem, whether a part of the text or as a whole.  The selected passage could be a moment of description or reflection; a passage that offers an important symbol or image; or a point of particular complexity or ambiguity. You may be offered a selection of passages to choose from, or you may be asked to locate one on your own.


2. Write one substantial (1 – 1.5 pages) paragraph that analyzes the passage.  The paragraph will be structured as follows:


A. It will begin with a supportable claim about the meaning of the passage within the larger text—whether the text as a whole, a section of the text, a theme or idea developing within the text, or perhaps an experience of it (my example below, more or less). For example,


In Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” the introduction of moving pebbles creates a feeling of anxiety the poem never ultimately escapes or contains.


B. Next will come your signal phrase (your introduction of the quotation) and the quotation itself, given in block format (and concluding, after necessary punctuation, with a citation of page or line number).  Here are my next sentences:


After marveling at the solid cliffs of Dover that “stand” in the tranquil bay, the sound of moving pebbles catches the speaker’s ear:


                       Listen! You hear the grating roar... [I quote 6 lines]. (lines 9-14)


C. The rest of the paragraph will explain the passage the first-sentence claim refers to, picking out key words and phrases from it and explaining their significance: what they mean (if it isn’t clear, or there are obscure words or literary allusions to explicate), the impact of their sound, the resonances and nuances of any images (suns, eyes, flowers, hearts, lions, darkness, etc.).  


You will receive a check plus if you meet the following criteria: opening/topic sentence is a claim about meaning; quotation is properly signaled and integrated; your analysis focuses on specific language from the passage. If one of these is missing or incomplete, you'll receive a check.  If more than one of the above 3 elements is lacking, you will receive a check minus.

WA #1


For Thursday, September 13, choose a brief passage from Blindness and write one substantial paragraph that begins with a claim about the passage’s meaning overall (or the meaning of something within the passage) and supports the claim with close analysis of the passage’s language and form.  That is, even beyond words and images, be aware of tone, sentence structure, punctuation (or lack!), etc.


Include a “Work Cited” list.


Saramago, José. Blindness. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero, Harcourt, 1997.


WA #2


For Thursday, October 11, please write 1-2 pages on one of the following passages from King Lear:


Act 3, Scene 2, lines 14-24 (“Rumble thy bellyful…”)

Act 3, Scene 4, lines 6-22 (“Thou think’st tis much…”)

Act 3, Scene 4, lines 95-102 (Thou wert better in a grave…”)


Don't forget Work Cited list! (You can put it at the bottom of the last page; no need for a new one.)

WA #3


Due Tuesday, October 30; same length and grading criteria as the first time through. And check out the links I added to the top of the page.


There’s actually a lot that goes on in the novel before Crusoe becomes shipwrecked and isolated on his island. For this exercise, I’d like you to find a passage in the first part of the novel—any of his time spent in England, Africa, or Brazil.


I’d like you to argue, and then support with close analysis of the passage’s language, that the moment you’ve chosen establishes something incomplete, insufficient, or unsettled in the protagonist’s values or behavior. To be clear, I don’t mean something you personally find lacking, but something (through conflict, ambiguity, tension, literary allusion, etc.) that the text suggests will have to be addressed.


In a way, the novel represents a return to the most fundamental aspects of human existence, an opportunity to re-evaluate (through both practice and reflection) his life lived and his beliefs. I’m asking you to find something in his life prior to the shipwreck that seemingly needs some of this work.

WA #4


Due Thursday, 11/29; same length and grading criteria as the first time through.


Find and closely read a moment in Coetzee or Daoud when a disenfranchised other "speaks back" to such institutional forces as patriarchy or the colonial empire.


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