Paper Two
Literary Argument
Writing Prompt:
Over the past few months you have been reading and writing about literature from various theoretical perspectives, reviewed a variety of concepts in composition, and written one formal literary argument. It is now time to demonstrate your holistic understanding of the course content. To that end, you will write the second, and final, literary argument of the semester.
The goal of this assignment is for you to analyze one literary work through the lens of one literary theory. You will select one literary work and one theory from the lists below. Then you will analyze the work through the key principles of your selected theory and advance an argument in support of your resulting interpretation.
Your thesis should make a theoretically-informed claim about some facet of the literary work. You may want to examine how the work thematizes gender, queer sexuality, or race; you may want to examine the ways in which ideology or discourse motivate characters to act; you may want to examine the failure of grand narratives in the quest for enlightenment.
In short, your thesis should respond to the following question: What does (insert literary work) convey when read through the lens of (insert theory)?
Literature and Theory Pairing:
You do not have to pair the theory and literary works as I have done. The combination of theory and literature is entirely up to you. Whatever the case, be sure to focus on only one theory and one literary work.
Choose One Work:
“A Supermarket in California
“A Story About the Body”
“The Death of Iván Ilÿch”
“Sonny’s Blues”
Choose One Theory:
Feminist Theory
Queer Theory
Ideology and Discourse Theory
Race and Postcolonial Theory
Postmodern Theory
Write to an academic audience.
Use academic voice.
Complete all tasks listed below in the exact order they are presented.
Demonstrate knowledge of the ideas presented throughout the course.
You must use a total of 6 sources in the paper. You must include your selected literary work, Klages’ Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed, and five scholarly and credible critical sources throughout the paper. The scholarly and credible critical sources must be focused on the literary work.
Follow MLA formatting in its entirety, including in-text citations and a works cited page.
This paper must be no less and no more than 5-6 pages of written text (no exceptions), typed (Times New Roman, 12-pt. font) and double-spaced, with 1” margins and page numbers in the top right-hand corner. The works cited page does not count as a page of written text.
Tasks (in exact order):
Introduction (1 Paragraph):
Write an introduction that grabs the audience’s attention, introduces the literary work and author, provides a brief (plot) summary of the work (5-6 sentences), introduces the theory from which you will analyze the literary work, defines relevant theoretical terms, and narrows the scope of your analysis and argument.
State the thesis (main claim) at the end of the introduction. The thesis must be a theoretically informed statement that advances an argument about your selected literary work.
Body (5-6 Paragraphs)
Topic Sentence: begin each body paragraph with a theoretically informed topic sentence that makes a claim about the literary work. Each body paragraph must be focused on developing only the idea in the topic sentence. Make sure each topic sentence is connected to the thesis. Do not use quotes as topic sentences!
Secondary Sentence: clarify/support each topic sentence with a secondary sentence derived from or informed by Mary Klages’ Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed. The secondary sentence must clearly identify one specific concept from the theory you are using to develop the paragraph.
Concrete Details: each paragraph must include concrete details from the literary work as evidence for the topic sentence. The concrete details must clearly illustrate the main point (topic sentence) of the paragraph.
Examples/Quotations: each paragraph must include at least one example/quotation from the literary work as support for the topic sentence. Provide context for each example/quotation by introducing the speaker, setting, and situation. Quote the literary work. Cite all quotations in MLA format.
Commentary/Reasoning: unpack the concrete details and quotations in each paragraph; then explain how they support the topic sentence. Provide a line of reasoning for every claim you make; you must explain how you have arrived at your ideas!!!
Criticism: support your argument with scholarly research. You must back up your argument using well-researched scholarship/criticism. Each scholarly source must be focused on the literary work you are examining. You must include a scholarly source in each paragraph, after the commentary/reasoning. JSTOR, Ebsco (Host), and Gale Literature are excellent research databases, all of which are available through PCC’s Shatford Library. Remember: you must use a total of five scholarly and credible sources throughout the paper.
Concluding Sentence: the last sentence of each body paragraph must tie the paragraph back to the thesis of the paper.
Counterargument (1 paragraph):
Identify one counterargument (opposing argument) to your thesis (argument). The counterargument must counter your thesis, not your theory selection. What is the counterargument? What are the grounds of the counterargument? How does the counterargument differ from your argument? This is a good place for a scholarly and credible source.
Provide valid reasons that explain why the counterargument is unsound or limited. What are the shortcomings of the counterargument?
Explain why your thesis is stronger or more substantial than the counterargument. What new point can you bring in to support the strength of your thesis? This is also a good place for a scholarly and credible source.
Conclusion (1 Paragraph):
Make sure the conclusion leaves the audience with a clear understanding of your main argument.
Summarizes your main ideas (topic sentences), without repetition.
Move the reader forward. Offer the audience food for thought.
Do not introduce new ideas in the conclusion!
Do not use quotations in the conclusion.