Home | Policies |Assignments | Handouts | Extra Credit Grammar Contact Dr. Halbert



Writing a literature paper is an art, one that requires each of you to set aside the role of student and step into the role of literary scholar.  To write a literary analysis is to move beyond summary into the realm of literary criticism, offering your own unique interpretations of a text or texts to add to the overall body of knowledge about literature and the historical moments that produced them. Note that this task is very different from simply summarizing a text: you need to offer a specific argument about the meaning or significance of the text that a reasonable reader can follow.  To do so, you need to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Identify a topic you wish to explore through a specific set of related texts.
  • Identify, present, and analyze textual evidence from your primary and secondary sources.
  • Use this evidence to argue for a specific interpretation of a person, group, text, or historical period.

It's not enough to simply give a lot of information about the texts under discussion: you need to shape the presentation of that evidence into a claim about how the reader should interpret those texts.  You don't have to actually convince the reader that you are right, but you have to give a plausible case based on strong evidence.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is coming up with a way to think about your subject in order to produce a provable claim.  You might consider some of the following approaches:

  • HISTORICAL: how do the authors or texts represent or explain a historical period or conflict?
  • GENDER: how do specific limitations and/or privileges associated with gender shape the authors or texts to produce a specific viewpoint?
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL: what unique circumstances in the authors' lives might have influenced specific aspects in their texts?
  • IDENTITY POLITICS: how do issues of religious, racial, ethnic, geographic, class, or sexual identity shape the texts under discussion? Consider how "contact zones" may be in play.
  • AESTHETIC: how do the technical merits of the text affect interpretation?

This list of approaches is hardly exhaustive: there are dozens of critical approaches that could be used. You might even start with the samples of theories that we read in our textbook. This list is meant to help point you towards a potential claim that can serve as your thesis.  The challenge is to develop a working thesis before you begin carefully locating your evidence and writing.  I am happy to meet with people individually to discuss potential topics, either in person or online.


There will be two papers for the course.  Each one needs to do the following:

  • Use MLA formatting for the paper.  Consult a current MLA guide to make sure the spacing and required information is accurate.
  • Use 12 point Times New Roman font with 1" margins and no gaps between paragraphs beyond normal double-spacing.
  • Use the MS Word Assignment word processor formatting tools.
  • Has an MLA-style works cited page and uses parenthetical citations.
  • Use the entry for "Works in an Anthology" and cross-referencing to handle sources from the Heath.
  • Introduce the key writers and texts under discussion in the introduction.  If multiple works are to be used by one author, some latitude about listing all of them in the introduction will be given.
  • Properly marks titles.
  • Use at least one block quote.
  • Refrain from using "you" in the paper.
  • Refrain from using "I" in the paper unless you are specifically referring to a personal experience.  Consider carefully if such information is relevant to your paper.
  • Use at least one colon and one semi-colon correctly.
  • Use at least on primary text from the syllabus.
  • Seek permission to use other primary texts not on the syllabus.
  • Display a high degree of editing, polish, and style.


The following guidelines are required for the first paper:

  • The paper must be 4.5 to 6 pages long.


The following guidelines are required for Paper #2:

  • The paper must be 7 to 10 pages long.
  • The paper must include at least five academically appropriate secondary sources.
  • The primary databases available on the Montco website that would provide good sources are JSTOR, eBooks, and Academic Search Premier in addition to the schools book collections.


If you take your draft to Tutorial Services and have it reviewed by a writing tutor at least 48 hours prior to the final draft due date, I will give you 5 points extra credit.  To receive the credit, have the tutor sign and date the draft and hand it in separately to me when the final draft is due.  If the paper is reviewed online, forward me the email.


Site URL: http://www.halhalbert.com/classes/fall2019/eng211
Site designed and owned by Dr. Harold William Halbert
Site Created on August 26, 2019