English 2122 paper 1

Write an analytical or argumentative essay on a topic of your own choosing from the list of options below. Your paper must meet each of the following requirements. Read these requirements very carefully, more than once.

  • 4-6 pages in length, 1200 words minimum, 1800 words maximum (in the body of the essay, excluding header, name, date, title, works cited page, etc.).

  • Formatted carefully and correctly, following MLA guidelines as outlined on my "simple stuff" page.

  • A minimum of six quotations from the work or works you examine is required: six is an absolute minimum—you may certainly offer more than six to illustrate or substantiate your primary claims thoroughly and effectively.

  • I'm not expecting research with this paper, but you may, if you like, incorporate some research, offering quotations or other information from secondary sources of legitimate scholarly criticism or commentary on the work(s) you examine.  ("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 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.

  • All quotations and other source material must be documented according to MLA guidelines as outlined on my "quotations" page, including the MLA conventions for citing poetry (Q4). A works cited page is mandatory even if you cite only one work.

  • Paper proposals: as indicated on the schedule page, and as a graded assignment, you are to turn in a paper proposal in the form of a topic sentence outline, beginning with the question your essay will strive to answer, followed by each body paragraph's complete topic sentence as it might appear in the essay itself, and ending with a thesis statement that a) answers the question you are addressing, and b) ties together the primary points in your topic sentences. The question you raise for this outline should be a literal question—an interrogative sentence ending in a question mark, not merely a statement of what your topic is. You may send your topic sentence outline in the body of an email message—that is, it’s not necessary to send the outline as an attachment. For full explanation of a topic sentence outline, including examples, see the paper proposal assignment page.
  • Note that you must submit the final draft in both hard copy (printed on paper) and digital form uploaded to the Paper 1 Assignments dropbox in D2L.

In all options below you are restricted only to works we have read for this course. Comparisons or other significant concentration on works we have not read is off-limits for this assignment.

bulletShow how any three or four of the poems we read by Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, or Percy Shelley fit into "the Romantic tradition."  Naturally, you will need to define Romantic tradition (or Romanticism) in order to demonstrate how the particular works are recognizably Romantic. 

bulletDiscuss the continuing relevance of any poem or group of poems (up to four in total): that is, how does the poetry still relate to Americans in 2017?

bulletCompare and contrast the views of nature between any two of these four: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley. Focus only on works included in our syllabus.

bulletGive a close, very thorough interpretation, stanza by stanza, of either Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" or Percy Shelley's "Mont Blanc."

bulletDiscuss Mary Shelley's portrayal of isolation and/or alienation in Frankenstein: consider both the causes and consequences of isolation and/or alienation in the novel.

bulletAnalyze Mary Shelley's portrayal of sexual matters, or sexuality, or matters related to sex (including asexuality or antisexuality), in Frankenstein.

bulletDiscuss Mary Shelly's commentary upon science or technology in Frankenstein.

blue bullet I encourage you to seek my help with your paper. Let me know if you'd like to meet for a conference, and we'll make arrangements.


  • Offer concrete evidence (i.e. quotations) to support every one of your major assertions.
  • Make every body ¶'s topic sentence answer the paper proposal question directly.
  • Avoid plot summary: see nugget 1; introduce all quotes: see nugget 3.
  • Sweat the details: see the "Golden Rules," "Nuggets," "Simple Stuff," and "Quotations" pages and proofread carefully.
  • Email me if you have questions or problems. 

Take advantage of the Writing Center, in the Teacher Education Building 226, for expert one-on-one tutoring by the English Department's faculty or some of our star English-major students! We have well-trained 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.