English 2300-04
Fall 2009
Assignment for first paper.
Due September 9 at beginning of class.

Directions:  Using the strategies of close reading we have studied and discussed in class, write a paper in which you establish for your reader the form/meaning of one of the following:

 John Leax’s poem “Sacramental Vision”
 Kate Chopin’s story “The Story of an Hour”

Make yourself very familiar with the work about which you choose to write by reading it multiple times.  Use the Questions for Analysis in Chapter 3 of Bressler to help focus your thinking.  Your paper should be 3-4 pages (typed, double-spaced) in length.  Do not exceed 5 pages in any event.  Document references to the poem (line number) or the story (paragraph number) parenthetically in the text of your paper.

Alternatively, you may employ the same strategies of close reading to correct and/or add to Hilary S. Brautigam's essay on Keats's "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer"--"Controlled Passion" (Bressler 68-71)

Points to remembers:

1. You thesis or claim is essentially an expression of your understanding of the poems meaning (its form).
2. You may discuss the significance of the work’s title and its genre.
3. Your exegesis should include scrutiny of the work’s diction.  Here, of course, you have to do the work of selecting the words or phrases that most contribute to the complex meaning of the work.
4. Analyze the elements of prosody or fiction:  imagery, character, plot, rhythm, tone, etc.  How has the author combined these, along with diction, to create a technique that reveals the work’s meaning (including instances of paradox, irony, or ambiguity)?  Here again, you have to do the work of selecting those elements that deserve close attention.
5. Your conclusion may well offer an evaluation of the work using such New Critical criteria as the organic nature of a work of art or inclusiveness of experience.


Your paper will be evaluated on the thoroughness of your close reading of the work, the rhetorical skill you display in convincing readers of the adequacy of your reading, adherence to the conventions of composition (including MLA guidelines for manuscript form and documentation) and standard American English.  See also the "Criteria" on your syllabus