ENGL 3890      Fall 2011      LA 229     MW 1-2:30

The list below describes what I look for in critical analysis papers and in the final paper for this class. Generally, I believe that class papers should provide an opportunity for students to think with the material that is presented in readings and in class discussions. Theory is difficult to read and understand, and my basic expectation for the papers is that you think seriously with the material and present your ideas in academic style and format. 

I would summarize the criteria for good papers as follows:

  1. The paper presents an interesting idea—it doesn’t have to be original, but it should be fresh, your own, and/or compelling to you. In other words: tell me something!

  1. Run the spell-check, do a second reading, share it with a friend: make the paper readable and presentable.

  1. The paper should present evidence of careful organization; papers need not be thesis-driven; they also do not have to reach a conclusion; they should show, though, that you’re working with a central idea that you present in carefully developed paragraphs; as a general guideline, structure paragraphs in the conventional academic style you’ve been practicing in ENGL 3090 or other academic writing courses.

  1. The idea presented in the paper is well supported, in two ways. First, offer support that comes from the texts we’ve read together in class. Second, support can also be any combination of the following elements:  personal experience, something you’ve read in another class, something you’ve observed/read outside of class, something that might apply to your future career (i.e. high school teaching), and/or something from another medium (TV, movies, etc). But remember: the paper needs to make a clear connection to class readings; use specific quotes or references from the texts as a springboard for your own ideas.

  1. Since this is an upper-division course for English majors, you should be using correct MLA documentation. So, look at a handbook and do your best to use the MLA documentation style. I will mark mistakes, but won’t count them as such; I want to make sure that you practice MLA and have a chance to get feedback on it. For the final paper I do expect that you’re using the documentation style correctly. You may access a short guide to MLA style under the “Links” tab on this web page.