English 3000: Practical Criticism

Research paper (30%)


Project Layout—Your research essay should focus on some aspect of a work we have discussed this semester: either Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street or Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese. Using at least one of the theoretical/critical lenses we have studied in class, write a carefully developed essay that explores the text in relationship to a specific theme, idea, argument or question. This can be something we have discussed in class or something that you have been considering independently and want to analyze further. I will reward to a greater degree essays that exhibit independent, original research and analysis or that build upon what we have discussed in class, as opposed to essays that simply repeat what has been presented in class. Use this as opportunity to focus on something that interests you about the work. I will be glad to meet with you in advance to discuss ideas and possible topics with you. You topic should be proposed and cleared by me by 4/8/13.  Your final project will be divided into three distinct sections that represent the liminal spaces that teachers—good ones at least—always occupy.


Essay 3 “The Scholar”:              Develop a strong, sophisticated, critical reading of the primary text and substantiate your claims with appropriate primary and secondary evidence.  For this section, you should incorporate critical support from a minimum of three substantial secondary sources.

·         Length: 6-7 pages—not including the works cited page.

·         Due: Monday 4/22


►Topic Approval – Proposal: In 150-180 words, in formal language, complete sentences, and type-written, you will write a formal proposal, due on Monday, April 8th at the beginning of class (if you are late, the proposal is late). The proposal has three initiatives: (a) to establish the main issue your paper will deal with (b) to incorporate ONE relevant critical sources you have discovered that help you theorize, historicize, and/or contextualize your subject; and (c) to propose a driving theoretical assertion, or thesis. You need to be specific as possible in describing your topic. The more details you provide, the better I will be able to assist you in determining if the idea is appropriate for this assignment and provide you with suggestions for organizing and researching your paper. After you have turned in to me your proposal, we can arrange to meet to discuss your topic further. This will give us an opportunity to identify any potential problems, locate sources, and consider strategies for writing and research. If you do not communicate with me about your research project in advance, you run the risk of spending lots of time and effort on a paper that will not be acceptable for this assignment, one that will most likely receive a failing grade.

Click here for sample proposals.

A Word of Caution: UWG defines plagiarism as taking personal credit for the words and ideas of others as they are presented in electronic, print, and verbal sources. I expect that students will accurately credit sources in all assignments. An equally dishonest practice is fabricating sources or facts; it is another form of misrepresenting the truth. Plagiarism is grounds for failing the course.  Any student caught submitting materials (in part or whole) as their own work from online websites will fail the course automatically and be referred to the Academic Discipline Council. Be careful. If you can find it online, so can I. I’ve already seen examples of your writing, so I am familiar with your writing style.

Please remember that I am available to help you at every stage in this process. If you would like to discuss possible topics for your project or need assistance in organizing your paper, please set up a time to meet with me.












English 3000: Practical Criticism

A Pedagogy Project—Final exam (10%)


Section 1 “The Student”:            Compose a concise overview and justification of your approach to teaching one of the texts we have discussed in class. Select a very specific section or chapter to develop your praxis. Consider the following: What are your end goals with this unit?  What textual thematic principles (or foci) center your approach?  Why are they important?  How can you distill this for your students?  What specific pedagogical practices will facilitate student achievement of your goals and why?  How will you measure achievement?  Etc. 

·         Length: 2-3 pages.

·         Due: Thursday 4/25


Section 2 “The Teacher”:           Create original, detailed lesson plans (two minimum) and any supporting material for teaching your self-selected unit of this novel in the secondary environment.  This section of the project should represent your teaching self—your pedagogy—and how you envision enacting your goals with the novel selection.  The lesson plans should incorporate a variety of techniques and include a writing assignment.  Clearly, each lesson should refer to appropriate ELA standards.

·         Length: TBD by individual project parameters.

·         Due: Thursday 4/25