Like most literature classes, this course requires that you submit a paper that analyzes the argument made by one of the texts that we have read up to this point. This assignment requires that you identify the “argument” made by one of the course readings (most students choose Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man, but you can choose any fiction we will read before the due date of the assignment…this might mean that you have to read ahead). You will need to identify the themes, characters, imagery, plot and/or setting elements that the author uses to make the “argument” of the narrative.
Identifying the “argument” made by your chosen source should occur early in the essay. You will need to give a brief general summary of the narrative early in your paper, identify the corresponding problem addressed by the narrative, and state what you think its “argument” is as your main point/main claim/or thesis of your paper. This is also where you define, or limit, your argument. Take special care to define your focus so that it is something that you can discuss within the limits of the paper. Specificity is your friend in this case. Our class discussions have focused on some of the arguments made by early 20th century African American texts, but do not limit yourself to topics we have discussed in class. If you think a reading is making an argument about something we have not discussed, feel free to use it.
Identifying the elements of the narrative that the author uses to make his or her argument will form the bulk of your essay. Your task in this part of the assignment is to identify pieces of evidence from the text, and then to explain how those pieces can be used to make the meanings that you are making. This is an exercise in argumentation. There are no right or wrong answers in an objective sense. There are arguments that are more or less convincing, however. Direct quotes and paraphrases will be required for this part of the assignment.
Important note: The context for this assignment should be the early 20th century. No contemporary contexts for these arguments, please
Wednesday, February 3: The assignment handout is introduced (via a homework video).
Monday, February 8: Paper proposals are due for your group peer review synthesis session.
Wednesday, March 10: Final draft of the final paper is due. (please include the proposal)
Length: 4-6 pages, Double Spaced, stapled.
Font: Ariel or Times New Roman, 10 or 12 point font.
Page numbers: Upper right-hand corner.
Citations: MLA format, parenthetical references, Work cited page. For more information about
MLA format, check out the Purdue’s OWL website at: http://owl.english.purdue.edu
The argument analysis paper proposal is designed to give me the opportunity to have input on your argument formation and writing process. It is an additional chance to get feedback before proceeding with your writing. With these goals in mind, please include the following components in your proposal:
Thesis or main claim: Please identify your thesis or main claim that you plan to argue in your paper. Pay particular attention to how the topic is defined/limited.
Discussion of evidence: Please identify which parts of your chosen story you plan to use as support for your main point. If you already know how you will be using these textual elements, please indicate that in this section. If you are not sure how the elements will help you, but you are sure that the element is important, use this assignment as an opportunity to work through these questions.
This assignment should be approximately 1 page, double-spaced. Feel free to use bullets or other formatting options that would make the process easier for you. (Also feel free to use both sides of the paper and/or to single space your proposal. This is a planning document for the final draft of your paper, so the more work you do now, the more that will be done when you start to draft.)