Module 5 – Literary Analysis Essay Assignment.
Minimum requirements to earn credit:
• Length: 4 pages (plus additional Works Cited page)
• Sources: Use 1-2 primary sources of fiction AND 2 or more secondary sources of literary criticism as described below
• Documentation: Correct MLA documentation is expected, including in-text citations and a Works Cited page. If you include any source material without giving proper credit, you risk either earning a zero on the assignment or an F as your final grade in the course.
Purpose: To analyze significant primary texts as forms of cultural and creative expression; to explain the ways in which texts reflect the culture and values of their time and place; to frame a comparative context to critically assess the ideas, forces, and values that shape texts; to develop an interpretation of a literary text, support the interpretation with textual evidence and a secondary source, and cite the source material; to use MLA documentation and formatting; to practice using scholarly sources of literary criticism; to practice the process of writing; to practice essay organization and editing skills.
Assignment: Create a literary analysis essay built on close readings of 1-2 fictional texts. Consider the elements of fiction and vocabulary terms you have learned this semester, and then choose one specific aspect of the text(s) to analyze, such as plot, point-of-view, characterization, setting, style, theme, tone, symbolism, irony, or use of a specific figurative language device.
After you have selected one aspect of the text(s), reread the text(s), looking for patterns. Think about how and why the author uses the elements of fiction to create meaning. Try to be specific. Something like “Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ uses foreshadowing” is a fact, not a thesis. You will have to think about how and why she uses foreshadowing. Then you have an interpretation that will need proof, which is much better.
If you select two fictional texts, you should choose ones that have a significant similarity in the element you wish to discuss. Then you can compare and contrast the texts to find patterns. You may wish to consider a topic that you have already thought about or something mentioned on the course Content.
Expectations: You need to open with a strong introduction and a thesis statement that addresses the topic. You should support your position using well-developed body paragraphs, and you must incorporate quotations, paraphrase, and/or summary from the story or stories to support your points. You will also integrate evidence from secondary sources. You should end with a conclusion that briefly sums up your main ideas and connects your discussion to the culture and values of the time and place. Use an academic voice with third-person point of view (no “you” or “I” except within direct quotations), and use formal grammar and spelling. Your essay should follow MLA paper formatting and MLA documentation style.
I do not want:
• Biography – you should not use background information on the author or text (from the course Content or the textbook) within body paragraphs. Body paragraphs should provide evidence from the primary and secondary sources only. You may use background information on the author or text in the introduction or conclusion if it is directly relevant.
• Plot summary – assume your reader is familiar with the text; avoid summarizing it or providing an overview in chronological order. Instead, arrange your paragraphs by main ideas and use only the relevant evidence to prove your thesis.
• Large copied passages – quote sparingly; use ellipsis as necessary; avoid block quotations
Sources: You must use and cite 1-2 primary sources of fiction AND 2 or more secondary sources of literary criticism.
• A primary source is a text by the original author. You may choose any short stories on our course schedule. If you want to write about a different story or novel by one of the authors on our course schedule, or if you want to write about an author of fiction who is not on our course schedule, you must get your text(s) approved by the instructor before you begin.
• A secondary source is a work that explains or analyzes a primary source (such as a journal article).
• For example, Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is a primary source, and a literature scholar’s article about the symbolism of Emily’s house would be a secondary source.
• Your secondary source should be literary criticism from a scholarly book or an article from a peer-reviewed journal. I suggest using the databases, eBooks, and books provided by the NSCC library. You should avoid biographies, plot summaries, and all sources written for a general audience (such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, and most websites). If you have questions about whether a source is appropriate, ask.
• Information from our textbook and course Content may be used if it is directly relevant and cited correctly, but these count as extra sources only: you will still need 1-2 primary sources of fiction AND 2 or more secondary sources of literary criticism.
You may NOT list any sources on your Works Cited page that you do not use in your paper. Also, you may NOT use (through quotation, paraphrase, or summary) any sources that you do not cite in the text and on the Works Cited page – this is plagiarism and grounds for failing the assignment.
Submission: Do not email your essay; submit it on NS Online through the Assignment Dropbox. Your document must be in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format. Late work is not accepted. Please review the relevant guidelines in the syllabus.
Grading: Your essay will be graded using the grading rubric for our course; you can earn up to 40 points for Content, 30 points for Organization, 25 points for Editing, and 30 points for Documentation.
Extra help: Be sure to review the Additional Resources on Module 5 Content. If you have a question that other students could help you with, or if you think my answer to your question would help everyone, please post a message on the Help Discussion Board so that everyone can see the replies. If you have a specific question that can be answered in an email, send me an email. Please do not send me your entire paper in an email. If you need more help, ask for an in-person or virtual appointment, stop by during my office hours, get feedback from Net Tutor online tutors, or take your paper to NSCC’s Learning Center.
If you have trouble with research, the librarians at NSCC are very helpful; just make sure you show the librarian this assignment. Also, check out the NSCC library’s guide for researching literature at

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