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English 1102 paper topics, spring 2017

Paper 2

Read every word below carefully, more than once, before starting your essay.

Choose one of the options below and respond in an analytical or argumentative essay of 800-1250 words.  Whichever option you address, your introduction must culminate in a literal central question that the rest of the paper strives to answer.  For topics that call for argument between one point of view and another, structure the argument in the persuasive format.

For details of the physical formatting of your paper on papermargins, headers, titles, etc.see the simple stuff page. For guidelines on quotation and documentation, see the quotations page. All options require quotations from the readings, so a works cited page is necessary.

I encourage you to seek my help with your paper outside of class. I cannot respond to whole drafts through email, but I will be glad to go over your paper from start to finish with you in person before you submit it for grading.  If my office hours don't mesh with your schedule, let me know and we'll make arrangements for other times. 

Note that you must submit the final draft (only) in both hard copy (printed on paper) and digital form (via the Brightspace/D2L dropbox for the assignment).

Paper proposals: before you begin writing the essay, construct a topic sentence outline: begin the outline with the literal question your paper addresses, then give full topic sentences that answer the question directly for each primary point in your paper (i.e. for each body paragraph), just as they will appear in the essay itself, and conclude the outline with the paper's overall thesis, answering the central question directly and combining your essential points from the various topic sentences. See the sample topic sentence outlines on my writing tips page and on the paper proposal assignment page.

1) What is love?  What a question!  Poets and philosophers have been trying to explain what love is for centuries—poets especially.  Not that you should "explain love" in full, but making specific reference to at least three poems (i.e. quoting three poems), construct an essay describing romantic love as you understand it—that is, say what you think love is or what love "feels like" and use the poetry to illustrate your claims.

blue bulletYou should concentrate on presenting your own opinions as the paper's main points, bringing in the poetry only in support of your assertions.  The idea is not to focus primarily on the poetry, but to use the poetry in developing or illustrating your own points just as you would use secondary sources in a research paper.  Consider the poets as experts or authorities on love, and cite their poems as evidence in support of your claims.

blue bulletIf the discussion presents argument between your ideas and those expressed in one or more of the poems, follow the persuasive format.  If the discussion does not present views that you disagree with, you should still structure the essay to raise a literal question in the introduction that the rest of the paper strives to answer—what the literal question ought to be seems fairly obvious . . . but check with me before you get started if you're uncertain about it.

Note: You may use poems not assigned on the syllabus.  If the poems are not included in our Norton text, turn in a printed copy of the poem with the finished draft.

Caution: This topic is not so easy as it might first appear.  Note that the assignment asks you to discuss what love is or is like, not what love should be or should be like.  Also note that the assignment restricts the discussion to romantic love—as opposed to familial or parental love, love between friends, etc.

2) Close behind love, death appears to be a hot topic among poets.  Discuss the depiction of people grieving or dealing with death or mortality in three or more poems from our Norton text.  What do the poems say about death or grieving?  What do they have in common?  How do they present their "messages" differently?  How are the messages themselves fundamentally different?  Raise a literal question in the introduction and quote each poem at least twice.

Note: Unlike the first option, this one requires close attention to the poems themselves as the subject of your discussion. Here, too, you may discuss poems not included in our class readings.  If the poems cannot be found in our Norton text, turn in a printed copy of the poem with the finished draft.

3) Marianne Moore's poem, "Poetry," suggests that life itself is "the raw material of poetry" and that poetry presents life in "all its rawness" (26, 27).  Explain how any three poems we've read convey different fundamental aspects or elements of life in vivid and powerful fashion, including at least three quotations from each poem to illustrate your claims.

4) According to William Wordsworth, "poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility; the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of re-action, the tranquility gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind."  Explore the powerful feelings presented in any three poems we've read, showing specifically how the poets encourage the reader's "kindred" feeling of the emotion the speaker describes.  Quote each poem you discuss at least three times, and raise a literal question in the introduction.


blue bullet Make every topic sentence answer the central question directly.
blue bullet Introduce all quotes: see nugget 3.
blue bullet Sweat the details: use the Golden Rules, Nuggets, Simple Stuff, and Quotations pages and proofread carefully.
blue bullet Offer concrete evidence (quotes) in support of each of your major assertions.
blue bullet See me in the office or email if you have questions or problems. 

Use the Writing Center! I encourage you to see tutors for help with your papers at the Student Success Center (SSC) and/or the Writing Center. We have well-trained, qualified tutors who can give you plenty of one-on-one attention with any aspect of the writing process. Be sure to take a copy of this assignment with you to any tutoring session, or show your tutor this assignment page on the web.