Nature in Literature (2007): Essay Guidelines

22 Oct. 2007 11 Sept. 2007

The major “theme” of this course is our relationship to the natural world around us—how we attempt to control it, how we idealize it, and how it threatens us, especially. Your essay should discuss an issue concerning the natural world as it relates to one or more of our assigned readings. You can identify whatever topic you wish to discuss and take any approach that fits your own interests, as long as your analysis is primarily literary in its scope.

Your essay grade will be broken into three parts.

  1. Proposal and annotated bibliography: Your proposal should be 3-5 sentences in length, identify the issue you wish to address and the text(s) you intend to analyze, and make some claim as to the significance of your topic (i.e., explain why the topic matters or answer the question, “So what?”). You annotated bibliography should consist of 5-7 sources that you have read or are in the process of reading that matter to your topic. These sources should come from scholarly books and reputable journals. For 3 of these sources, you should write 3-5 sentences (per source) that explain the main thrust of the source and how it can aid in the development of your essay. (NB: you don’t necessarily have to quote from your annotated sources in your final essay.) This part is due Tuesday, October 16 and constitutes 12.5% 25% of your essay grade.

  2. First draft: Turn in a full-length version of your paper that you should treat as if it were your final draft. The draft should be no shorter than five pages and absolutely no longer than six (“Works Cited” page not included). Make sure to follow the formatting guidelines in the syllabus and to include your name, my name (Mr. Vorhes), the course number, and the date on the first four lines of the first page (all left-aligned), and your paper’s title (centered) on the fifth line of the first page. The sixth line should be the start your essay. The first draft is due Tuesday, November 20 and constitutes 25% of your essay grade.

  3. Final draft: This will be a revised version of your first draft (which I’ll return in class on Tuesday, November 27, when we’ll also discuss what exactly constitutes revision). The final draft is due Thursday, December 6, will be returned after the final exam, and constitutes 62.5% 50% of your essay grade. (NB: remember that I do take improvement into account. If your draft is awful but your final essay isn’t, your overall grade will be weighted toward the final draft.)

For all of these parts, remember that you must turn in paper copies—I don’t accept electronic submissions. All papers will be vetted by Turn-It-In and my friends at Google, although you shouldn’t plagiarize even if this weren’t the case!

Late materials are unacceptable and will be marked down according to the policy on the syllabus. Extensions will be granted if you request them no later than two weeks before the due date. (Medical & family emergencies are, of course, exceptions to these rules, although in those cases you need to let me know as soon as you can.)

If you have any questions or concerns about anything related to these essay-related assignments, please don’t hesitate to talk with me.