English 205:
Writing Assignments

Writing Assignments

Paper 1 Paper 2 Paper 3 Final Exam

About Wikipedia, SparkNotes, and Databases

DO NOT cite Wikipedia in academic essays. Since it is not edited by reputable experts, it often has errors and isn't reliable. It's okay to use it as a starting point for your own research, but go on and find other sources to verify the information, and cite those in your essay.

Also avoid SparkNotes, ENotes and similar sites. Teachers hate them since they provide only the most superficial analyses. Avoid citing them in academic papers; instead, go find analyses from more reputable academic sources: university and scholarly websites, peer-reviewed journals in library databases, and books. Don't be scared by that word "databases." The databases are just collected electronic versions of articles published in print magazines, journals, and newspapers. They also sometimes contain e-books. You can search them and find tons of good material. There's more about how to use the databases on the Writing About Literature page.

Writing Assignment 1

Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Be sure to support your statements with evidence from the text, and be sure to document correctly. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words).

This assignment is due Friday, March 16th.

1. How does the author of Beowulf use light and darkness? How, for example, are references to "light" and "darkness" symbolic? What do they represent? Be sure to use actual references to light and dark, black and white, to support your points.

2. The desire for fame (and the consequences of that desire) is a recurring theme throughout medieval literature. Choose two of the works we have discussed and compare their treatment of this theme. (Beowulf, for example, assumes without question that fame is a good thing to seek; do all of the other characters we have seen agree with him?)

3. All of the male characters in the old Germanic tales aspire to the "heroic ideal." Do the male characters in the later works have the same values? Explain and illustrate. (You may compare two characters--Beowulf and Sir Gawain, for example--or you may do a general survey of the evolution in values, using specific examples to illustrate your points.)

4. In Beowulf, women are hardly mentioned; does this state of affairs persist throughout the rest of the works we have read? How does the role of women, and the attitude toward women, change as we progress through these literary works?

5. In the Old English works we have read, the characters are really just flat "types." In Chaucer, by contrast, the characters are more fully drawn, more individualized. Choose any two of the works we have discussed and compare their use of characterization.

6. In Chaucer, we see a theme which is to recur again in many works of literature: appearances can be deceptive. Many of the works we have discussed explore this theme. Choose one of them and examine the way it handles this concept.

For information on using MLA format to cite and document correctly, see The Writing Tutorial Services at Indiana University, or The Purdue University Online Writing Lab.

For help writing this assignment, go to Writing About Literature ; for more specific help, feel free to e-mail me with questions.


Writing Assignment 2

Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Be sure to support your statements with evidence from the text, and be sure to document correctly. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words).

This assignment is due Friday, April 20th.

1. The danger of the sin of pride is a recurring theme throughout sixteenth century literature. Choose one of the sixteenth century works we have discussed (Kempe, Malory, More, Marlowe, or Shakespeare) and discuss its treatment of this theme.

2. In the earliest English literature, women are hardly mentioned. By the sixteenth century, however, women characters have come to play a major role in literature. Choose one of the sixteenth century authors we have discussed (Kempe, Malory, More, Marlowe, or Shakespeare) and analyze his or her treatment of women characters. (You may, if you wish, compare a medieval author with a sixteenth century author.)

3. Do any elements of the medieval "heroic ideal" persist into the sixteenth century? Choose one element and discuss its use in a sixteenth century work (Kempe, Malory, More, Marlowe, or Shakespeare).

4. As we know from reading about the Wife of Bath, appearances can be very deceptive; this truth is a recurring theme in sixteenth century literature. Choose one sixteenth century work we have discussed (Kempe, Malory, More, Marlowe, or Shakespeare) and analyze its treatment of this theme.

For information on using MLA format to cite and document correctly, see The Writing Tutorial Services at Indiana University, or The Purdue University Online Writing Lab.

For help writing this assignment, go to Writing About Literature ; for more specific help, feel free to e-mail me with questions.


Writing Assignment 3

Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Be sure to support your statements with evidence from the text, and be sure to document correctly. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words).

This assignment is due Friday, May 11th.

1. During the seventeenth century, attitudes toward God and religion changed dramatically. Choose one of the seventeenth century works we have read (by the Metaphysical Poets, Webster, Milton, Pepys, Locke, or Defoe) and discuss the way in which it does or does not reflect these changes. (Be sure to discuss explicitly the specific religious changes you see. To make this clearer, you may compare a 17th century work to an earlier work, if you like.)

2. From your readings in seventeenth century literature (the Metaphysical Poets, Webster, Milton, Pepys, Locke, or Defoe), what would you say was the prevailing British attitude toward women and their role(s) in society? Explain, using examples from the works for support.

3. How do the ideas and techniques of the Metaphysical poets compare to those of earlier poets we have read? Give plenty of specific examples and direct quotes from the Metaphysical poets, and from earlier poems, to illustrate your ideas.

4. Daniel Defoe's character, Roxana, like Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath, has questionable moral values and standards. Compare and contrast the two of them.

5. Webster's The Duchess of Malfi and Shakespeare's King Lear share similar themes. How is Webster's view of life different from or similar to Shakespeare's, as portrayed in these two plays?

For information on using MLA format to cite and document correctly, see The Writing Tutorial Services at Indiana University, or The Purdue University Online Writing Lab.

For help writing this assignment, go to Writing About Literature ; for more specific help, feel free to e-mail me with questions.


Final Exam

Of the works we have read this semester, which one have you liked the best? Explain. Which one did you like the least? Explain. Suggested length: 3-5 paragraphs. (Maximum possible points: 50.)

This assignment is due Tuesday, May 29th by midnight.
NO LATE FINALS WILL BE ACCEPTED!!!


How to submit your work

Your essays will be submitted to me via e-mail. Write your assignments in your word processing program. PLEASE SAVE YOUR FILE AS EITHER A WORD FILE OR AN RTF FILE. Then attach that file to your e-mail message. When sending assignments, your e-mail message should include your name, the class number (English 205), and the name of the assignment which is attached.

Use correct MLA format for the appearance of your essay and your documentation.

Eliminate spelling, grammar, and other mechanical errors from your writing.

Send your e-mail to me at annw708@earthlink.net.

NOTE: always keep copies of all of your assignments. If there is a problem with e-mail, you will need that copy to re-send for credit.