English 2111 paper 1

Write an analytical or argumentative essay on a topic of your own choosing from the list of options below. Your paper must meet each of the following requirements. Read each of these requirements very carefully, more than once.

  • 4-6 pages in length, 1200 words minimum, 1800 words maximum (in the body of the essay, excluding headers, name, date, title, works cited entries, etc.).

  • Formatted carefully and correctly, following MLA guidelines as outlined on my "simple stuff" web page. Note that I will not accept papers that have any errors in document formatting: papers submitted with any "simple stuff" errors in formatting will be returned to you ungraded, and you will have to fix the errors and resubmit your work to get credit for it. 

  • A minimum of seven quotations from the work or works you examine is required: seven is an absolute minimum—you may certainly offer more than seven to illustrate or substantiate your primary claims thoroughly and effectively.

  • I'm not expecting research with this paper, but you may, if you like, incorporate some research, offering quotations or other information from secondary sources of legitimate scholarly criticism or commentary on the work(s) you examine.  ("Legitimate" means truly scholarly sources, so items from the popular press, reviews of performances, encyclopedias, and study aids such as Cliff's Notes, SparkNotes, Master Plots, etc., are not acceptable.) You should most emphatically not consult any world wide web pages outside of our course materials while preparing your paper. For access to many scholarly articles and other materials in full-text electronic form, see the MGA Library website.

  • All quotations and other source material must be documented according to MLA guidelines as outlined on my "quotations" page, including the MLA conventions for citing poetry (Q4). A works cited page is required even if you cite only one work.

  • Paper proposals: as indicated on the schedule page, and as a graded assignment, you are to turn in a paper proposal in the form of a topic sentence outline, beginning with the question your essay will strive to answer, followed by each body paragraph's complete topic sentence as it might appear in the essay itself, and ending with a thesis statement that a) answers the question you are addressing, and b) ties together the primary points in your topic sentences. The question you raise for this outline should be a literal question—an interrogative sentence ending in a question mark, not merely a statement of what your topic is. For full explanation of a topic sentence outline, including examples, see the paper proposal assignment page. To submit the paper proposal, upload it to the Paper 1 proposal (Assignments) dropbox in D2L.

Note that in all options below you are restricted only to works we have read for this course. Comparisons or other significant concentration on works we have not read is off-limits for this assignment.

  • The continuing relevance for contemporary American readers of any major thematic issues in any two or three of the works we've read thus far: Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Oedipus the King, Medea, and The Aeneid.

  • Examination of the cultural values and ideals of ancient Greece suggested in the Greek works we've read: The Odyssey, Oedipus the King, and Medea.

  • Examination of the cultural values and ideals of the ancient Romans suggested in The Aeneid.

  • Evaluation of The Aeneid as propaganda, or as a biased view of "history."

  • Examination of romantic relationships in The Odyssey, Medea, and The Aeneid: how do these three works demonstrate important realities about both successful and unsuccessful male-female relationships?

  • Examination of the depiction of women in any two or three of the works we've read thus far: Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Oedipus the King, Medea, and The Aeneid.

blue bullet I encourage you to seek my help with your paper. Let me know if you'd like to meet for a conference, and we'll make arrangements.


  • Offer concrete evidence (i.e. quotations) to support every one of your major assertions.
  • Make every body ¶'s topic sentence answer the paper proposal question directly.
  • Avoid plot summary: see nugget 1; introduce all quotes: see nugget 3.
  • Sweat the details: see the "Golden Rules," "Nuggets," "Simple Stuff," and "Quotations" pages and proofread carefully.
  • Email me if you have questions or problems.