Literature is a Window to the Past: Reflection / Analysis Essay Assignment

Because the purpose of English Literature I is to familiarize you with the evolution of British literature throughout eight centuries, your major writing assignments for the course asks for you to consider how the literature produced during each era of study depicts the values of that time period (Literature as a Window to the Past).

For this assignment, you will be focusing on the history and literature of the Enlightenment. You are to write a MLA documented Links to an external site. paper that demonstrates your understanding of the history, the values and the literature of the Enlightenment in England.

Here are the guidelines to follow when writing each of the three papers:

1. Choose one of the following three “theme” questions we have for the semester:

  • How does the literature reflect the relationship between the individual and faith/belief/religion of the time period?
  • How does the literature reflect the relationship between women and men of the time period?
  • How does the literature reflect the evolution of the hero-like character of the time period?

2. Your thesis should answer the question “How do you (as yourself, an intelligent reader) see the literature written during that particular time period reflecting X (where X is your topic question selected from above (1))?”

3. You must answer your chosen question by analyzing and making specific reference to any two of the assigned readings that we have done for that particular period of study. Please note that “specific reference” means that you should integrate quotes from specific passages to support your interpretation– not just “Chaucer says a lot about men treating women badly” but something like “When Chaucer’s Wife of Bath says that “Experience, through noon auctoritee/ Were in this world, Is right ynough for me/ To speke of wo that is in marriage‟ she announces to the world her rebellion against a society that saw women as inferior to men” (Damrosch col.1:287). The more specific you can be about the works you are analyzing and reflecting upon, usually the better the quality of your paper.

4. You may choose which literary works you wish to discuss from those we have read from the Middle Ages historical period. You may also wish to include works outside of our assigned readings in your reflection, though it is not required. You should discuss in some detail at least two pieces of literature from each time period, though you certainly can analyze more than two pieces of literature if you wish. At least two quotes should be used to support your analysis from each of the two pieces of literature.

5. Your reflection should demonstrate that you understand and can connect literary works to key historical events, concepts, and movements of the time.

6. Your primary focus of this essay should be your own reflection on how the British literature you have selected reflect an answer to your chosen theme question. You are free to use secondary sources in support of your reflection but material must be properly documented. Throughout the course, please ask me if you are unsure about whether you should document a source, or how to document a source.

7. The paper should demonstrate your comprehension of the history of the time period and how that history influenced the portrayal of your chosen theme question in the literature.

English Literature I – Period Reflection Paper Grading Rubric

Introduction: 15 possible points

– a thorough overview and explanation of the historical period is presented

– each of the two pieces of literature that are analyzed in the paper are mentioned in the introduction

– a thesis statement is provided (answer to the chosen theme question selected from the above choices)

Body paragraphs: 35 possible points

– The body of the paper should present a summary of each piece of literature that is to be analyzed

– The body of the paper should thoroughly analyze (including quotes) each piece of literature explaining how the literature provides a window to the past for today’s readers and thus answers the chosen theme question

– Each analysis paragraph should have a clear topic sentence which breaks down the thesis and a clear concluding sentence which ties the paragraph’s topic sentence to the thesis

– Quotes in analysis paragraphs should be purposefully chosen and well integrated into the writing

Conclusion: 15 possible points

– Concluding paragraph should summarize main ideas in the paper AND make intriguing comments connecting the analysis, the historical time period, and literature in general to leave the reader with provoking ideas.

Execution: 20 possible points

Proper grammar, punctuation, syntax, spelling are followed : 30 possible points

MLA Documentation: 15 possible points

Proper MLA documentation is followed including headers, title, in-text citation and Works Cited page.

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