Monday, September 12, 2016

L309 First Writing Assignment

Dr. Stapleton ENG L309 First Assignment   9 September 2016

Besides learning about sixteenth-century English literature, the purpose of the course is to develop your analytical reading and writing abilities. In my profession, we make arguments, present evidence, and organize our findings so that we contribute something new to scholarship in a particular area. To these ends, the exercise to be performed is to analyze Wyatt’s poem “Of the Courtier’s Life Written to John Poins” in your anthology (197-99). Please avoid listing, summarizing, and making needless general statements about life and literature. I’d really enjoy seeing what you can do and hearing about what you think. You’re welcome to bring our other reading to bear on the topic as well.

Wyatt writes most of this text in the second person, and uses a fairly steady rhyme scheme and metrical pattern. Your job is to account for the poet’s effects, whatever you think they are, and to take a position on what you think the poem is doing.  Avoid value judgments (the poem is good; the poem is bad; I believe; I think). You might concentrate on the significant use of sound, tone, attitude, psychology and rhetoric (i.e., structure). Choose brief passages that make your points and show us why they do. Find one slightly longer passage and explain why it is of particular significance.  A poem is usually dramatic, in the sense that it was intended and designed to be read, spoken, or performed aloud. You might account for these elements. If you were teaching someone to deliver “John Poins,” what specific things would you emphasize? What directions would you provide?

My Writing Handouts page on my teaching website provides a great deal of help to those who seek it. The Writing Papers section explains what we do in a general way. The sections on Analytical Writing, Avoiding Needless Repetition, and Lead-ins and Quotations are highly recommended. Crucial: the “In Medias Res” section of the Writing Papers handout. Build your paper from the inside out. Specific is good.

Your essay should be 4-6 pp., double-spaced. No other question of formatting need concern us now. You may indicate line numbers in parentheses.  Please see the section on the Writing Papers page about how to quote poetry.

The paper is due Friday, 30 September, by 9 a.m., by email. Late papers = F. Strictly enforced, non-negotiable. I’m more than happy to discuss your paper or writing at any time possible. Email is fine, and the office is better. The best news is that you may REVISE this paper, the revision due at any time before the due date for the final take-home exam-paper, 12 December.

Required: for revision, office conference. Like your grade and attendance, non-negotiable.


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