English 205:
Writing Assignments

Writing Assignments

Paper 1 Paper 2 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DO NOT cite Wikipedia in academic essays.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 by midnight on the ni ght ofTuesday, July 5.

1. Discuss the use of light and darkness in Beowulf. How are references to "light" and "darkness" symbolic? What do they represent? Be sure to use actual references to literal light and darkness, black and white, to support your points. (Sir Gawain doesn't use many references to light and dark, but does use color symbolically and you could address that instead if you prefer.) Support your ideas with specific examples and direct quotes from the poem.

2. The desire for fame (and the consequences of that desire) is a recurring theme throughout medieval literature. Beowulf, for example, assumes without question that fame is a good thing to seek; is fame the main goal of Sir Gawain, as well? Explain, and support your ideas with specific examples and direct quotes from the poems.

3. In Beowulf, women are hardly mentioned; does this state of affairs persist throughout Sir Gawain and The Wife of Bath? How does the role of women, and the attitude toward women, change as we progress through these literary works? Explain, and support your ideas with specific examples and direct quotes from the poems.

4. 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. Compare the use of characterization in The Wife of Bath to either Beowulf or Sir Gawain. Support your ideas with specific examples and direct quotes from the poems.

5. Choose your own topic; clear it with me first.

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 by midnight on the night of Tuesday, July 18.

1. The danger of the sin of pride is a recurring theme throughout sixteenth century literature. Choose one of the works we have discussed in this section (Kempe, Malory, Marlowe, or Shakespeare) and discuss its treatment of this theme. Support your ideas with specific examples and direct quotes from the work.

2. In Beowulf, 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, 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, Marlowe, or Shakespeare).

4. Appearances can be very deceptive; this truth is a recurring theme in sixteenth century literature. Choose one of the following sixteenth century works we have discussed and analyze its treatment of this theme: Morte Darthur; Dr. Faustus; or King Lear.

5. Choose your own topic; clear it with me first.

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. Which did you think was the best written? Explain. Suggested length: 3-5 paragraphs. (Maximum possible points: 50.)

This assignment is due by midnight on the night of Thursday, July 27.
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.