British Literature

INSTRUCTIONS—Please read carefully
Choose ONE of the prompts on the back of this page and write approximately 750 words in
response. Keep your essay specific, focused, and debatable. Your job is to write about the texts
we have discussed in class. DO NOT FILL YOUR ESSAY WITH OVERLY GENERALIZED COMMENTS.
DO NOT SIMPLY SUMMARIZE THE TEXTS. OFFER STRONG ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF
THE TEXTS.
Your essay will include a brief introductory paragraph and thesis statement; approximately three
body paragraphs with strong topic sentences, examples from the text, and explanations and
analysis; and a brief conclusion that gives your reader something notable to walk away with. Do
not simply repeat yourself in the conclusion paragraph.
Your body paragraphs must contain quotations from the text you are writing about. Please use
an in-text citation at the end of the quotation. If you quote prose, include the page number
where the quotation is found: (679). If you quote poetry, include the line numbers of the
quotation: (84-85). When quoting lines from The Tempest by one character, include act, scene,
and line numbers: (3.3.83-85). When quoting a conversation between two or more characters in
a play, start the quote on a new line, indented 1/2 an inch from the left margin. Write the name
of the first speaker in capital letters, followed by a period and the speaker’s line(s). Do the same
for the next speaker(s) as necessary. Include act, scene, and line numbers in the in-text citation.
Your essay must include the following:
– An introductory paragraph that catches the reader’s attention and states a clear,
debatable thesis
– Approximately three body paragraphs that logically explain and develop your thesis with
explanations of the evidence you provide. Use direct quotations in each body paragraph
to support your argument. Introduce quotations with signal phrases. Avoid dropped
quotations. These quotes should be cited correctly using MLA-style in-text citations. See
the Purdue OWL for help with MLA formatting:
https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_style_introduction.ht
ml
– A conclusion that reminds the reader of the essay’s main idea but does not simply repeat
it. The conclusion should drive home the point of your essay and, perhaps, give the
reader something more to consider.
– A descriptive, creative, and relevant title
– Times New Roman 12 pt. font, double spaced, and 1” margins
– A works cited page. See Purdue OWL for help with MLA works cited page.
– Texas State University Honor Code, which can be found on the syllabus, and your
signature
– The essay should be NO LONGER THAN 800 WORDS. Please write the word count at the
end of your essay.
– Do not write general comments about “society,” “people,” or “history.” Be specific
throughout.
– Write about literature in the present tense.
– You are not required to cite any outside sources. However, if you refer to an outside
source, please include that source in your works cited page.
– Include an in-text citation at the end of a quotation or paraphrase of information.
– See TRACS “resources” with links from Purdue OWL for assistance with essay writing and
MLA format.
1. What dominates Beowulf? Politics? Religion? Fantasy? Poetry? History? Defending one’s
reputation? Explain. Be specific. Point to specific lines in the poem that exemplify
how/why a particular theme, focus, feeling, or display of artistry dominates the work.
2. In his analysis of Marie de France’s Bisclavret, Ahmed Muhammed Falah Banisalamah
explains, “One’s identity comes about by virtue of the specific performances one gives in
the world.” Choose one or two works we have read this semester and consider ways in
which a character/characters “perform” their identity (sexual identity, gender, political
identity, or some other social or cultural identity).
3. Choose one or two texts we have read this semester and discuss the role of gender in the
text(s). How does gender inform the characters’ perceptions of events and identities and
their responses to problems they encounter? Explain how gender makes a difference (or
doesn’t make a difference) in the text.
4. Caliban is arguably the most intriguing character of The Tempest. What is his function(s)
in the play, as you see it? Does he symbolize something? Does his role in the play say
something about the other characters or problems that arise?
5. The conventions, expectations, and judgments of various social classes and statuses are
significant to many of the texts we have read. Choose one or two texts we have read and
discuss how social class is addressed. Consider what is expected of members of a
particular social class or status, and consider whether the text adheres to those
expectations or interrogates them.
6. Choose one or two texts we have read and consider how faith, religion, spirituality,
and/or magic are presented. Does the text offer complications regarding these things?
What do the characters’ efforts to engage in a sort of spiritual quest say about the
culture, politics, and religious atmosphere of the period in which the text was written?

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