English 1102 paper topics, spring 2012

Paper 4

Write an analytical or argumentative essay of 800-1200 words on a topic of your choosing, focusing narrowly on The Death of Ivan Ilych. Your introduction should culminate in a literal central question that the rest of the paper strives to answer.

blue bullet Include at least eight quotations from the novella.

blue bullet Incorporate some research into this paper, offering quotations from at least two secondary sources of legitimate scholarly criticism or commentary on Tolstoy's story (at least one quote from two different sources). "Legitimate" means truly scholarly sources, so items from the popular press, reviews of performances, encyclopedias, and study aids such as Cliff's Notes, SparkNotes, Master Plots, etc., are not acceptable. You should most emphatically not consult any open-access world wide web pages outside of our course materials while preparing your paper. For access to many scholarly articles and other materials in full-text electronic form, see the MGA Library website.

Paper proposals: before writing the essay, construct a topic sentence outline as we have done for every essay this semester: begin the outline with the literal question your paper addresses, then give full topic sentences that answer the question directly for each primary point in your paper (i.e., for each body paragraph), as they will appear in the essay itself, and conclude the outline with the paper's overall thesis, answering the central question directly and combining the key points from your topic sentences. See the sample topic sentence outlines on my writing tips page and on the paper proposal assignment page.

The greatest challenge here will be to arrive at a viable topic, one worthy of exploration in a college-level English course. As noted in the "Bedrock basics" in the "grades and grading criteria" portion of our syllabus, In order to receive a passing grade:

An essay must first and foremost address a viable topic, meaning that if you are given a specific assignment for the essay, your paper must address the assigned topic squarely, directly, and fully. In the absence of a specific assigned topic, the essay must set up and address a topic genuinely worthy of exploration at the college level. . . . [H]ere's one quick illustration: a beautifully written paper proving that Hester Prynne is treated harshly in The Scarlet Letter for her sin of adultery would not pass because the point is too obvious to need elaboration: any reader of the novel would know that Hester is treated harshly simply from reading the book. Your essay should develop a thesis that will enlighten your readers: you should present and develop significant argument or analysis that goes beyond simply stating the obvious.


blue bullet Make every topic sentence answer the central question directly.
blue bullet Introduce all quotes: see nugget 3.
blue bullet Sweat the details: use the Golden Rules, Nuggets, Simple Stuff, and Quotations pages and proofread carefully.
blue bullet Offer concrete evidence (quotes) in support of each of your major assertions.
blue bullet See me in the office or email if you have questions or problems. 

Use the Writing Center! I encourage you to see tutors for help with your papers in the Writing Center (TEB 226), which is open through May 4th. We have well-trained, qualified tutors who can give you plenty of one-on-one attention with any aspect of the writing process. Be sure to take a copy of this assignment with you to any tutoring session, or show your tutor this assignment page on the web. Set up an appointment at https://www.mga.edu/student-success-center/writing-centers.php.