Formal Assignments

The class is organized into three units or progressions, each culminating in a graded essay assignment. You will also complete in-class and homework exercises throughout each progression.

Formal Assignments

  • Essay 1—Critical Response: Through close reading, identify an interpretive problem in one of the texts we examined and develop a thesis that addresses it. Use one of the literary terms you’ve learned as a key term to analyze the text and support your thesis with close reading.
    Link to Essay 1 Assignment Guidelines
    Link to Essay 1 Model Essay
  • Essay 2—Lens Analysis: Use close reading of Passing to analyze the relationship it constructs between race and identity. Use key terms to support your analysis; define those terms precisely, with reference to the secondary texts we’ve read. You should try to make your thesis as narrow and focused as possible, and you should attempt to think through the lens provided by your historical or theoretical text.
    Link to Essay 2 Assignment Guidelines
    Link to Essay 2 Model Essay
  • Essay 3— Scholarly Research Essay: Make an argument that answers an interpretive question that you raise about either The Great Gatsby or The Namesake. Support your argument with close reading, using secondary texts to define your terms precisely. Begin with the historical and theoretical texts that we studied in class and refer to at least two scholarly sources that you find through original research.
    Link to Essay 3 Assignment Guidelines
    Link to Essay 3 Model Essay
  • Research Assignment: Produce an annotated bibliography with at least five relevant and credible sources for Essay 3. For each of the sources, you will create a bibliographic citation and write a paragraph of at least 200 words that both summarizes the source and comments on its potential usefulness for your research project.
    Link to Annotated Bibliography Assignment Guidelines
  • Portfolio: Re-read all of your pre-drafts, drafts, revisions, and the feedback you received. In a cover letter, reflect on the writing practice you gained through your pre-drafts, drafts, and revisions, along with the ways you’ve developed your critical faculties throughout this semester. This document must address all three formal assignments but can also address any other part of the coursework that you find relevant to a discussion of your writerly development.

Submitting Assignments

All drafts must consistently follow MLA formatting and style and must be submitted according to the following guidelines. Both of these criteria are part of your assignment grade.

  • First Drafts: Submit all First Draft essays as paper copies, and they are due at the beginning of class on the day indicated on the course calendar.
  • Final Drafts: Submit all Final Drafts, whether due on class days or not, as Microsoft Word documents (no Google docs) to the appropriate Dropbox folders using the links provided on our WordPress site. Use the following protocol to name the files you post:
    [Student Last Name][First Initial]_E[Essay Number]_[Assignment Name].doc (or .docx)

Image: Couple in Racoon Coats (West 127th Street in Harlem, 1932) by James Van Der Zee (1886-1983)

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