Introduction to Literature                                                                                        Dr. Ben Varner

                                                        THE SHORT PAPER

For two of the grades you will earn in this course, you must write two four to six-page essays regarding some narrow aspect of literature.  These essays are not to be simple reports in which you have simply summarized the plot and collected a number of quotations.  Instead, each paper is to be an analysis of some question about the literature that you have gleaned from your
close reading and from class discussion.  For example, one possible topic could be "The Symbolism of the Fog in King Lear"; another possible topic (and they are indeed many) could be "Mirror Imagery in Jane Eyre."  In other words, your topics must focus on a narrow component of literature, such as symbolism, imagery, characterization, theme, and so on. Stay away from the obvious, and try to be perceptive in your selection of a topic.  If you have any questions about the scope of your topic (most initial paper topics are much too broad), then please talk with me.

Here are some important points to follow when you are composing your paper:

1.  Assume that your reader has read the literary work too and thus needs no summary or
     or re-telling of events.

2.  Write a clear thesis statement in the introduction of your essay.  Tell the reader exactly
     what you are writing about.  Put the thesis in the first paragraph, preferably at the end.

3.  Make sure your writing is clear and grammatically correct (this includes spelling!).
     Proofread very carefully because I will expect a high degree of literacy from you.

4.  Be letter perfect in all quotations contained in your essay, and always identify in the
     text whom you are quoting.  Never let a quotation stand by itself.  Since the paper is
     so short, keep the quotations to a minimum and keep them brief.

5.  Avoid footnotes or endnotes.  Use instead parenthetical citations within the text of your
     paper.  Remember to underline titles of large works; put into quotation marks titles of
     short works.  Since we will be using the same editions, only the page numbers of prose
     will be necessary.  If you do have another edition, then cite the chapter numbers.  Separate
     lines of poetry with slash marks if you are quoting three or fewer; block quote them if you
     are quoting four or more lines.

6.  You must submit a typed essay, so if you are a poor typist or do not know how to use a
      word processor, make arrangements to have your paper typed by someone else.  Be
      certain that your printer ribbon or cartridge is new-light print is difficult to read.  The
      essay is to be double spaced throughout, and please do not quadruple space between
      paragraphs.  Be sure that the print size is no larger than the print size on this page (12 point).
      Avoid wide margins, do not include a title page or any type of cover for your paper, and
      please use only a paper clip (not a staple) to hold the pages together.

7.  Finally, please remember the standard warning against plagiarism, the taking of another's
    writing and passing it off as your own (this includes heavy editing by someone else).  This
     paper must contain your own writing and your own analysis of the work under scrutiny.
     Avoid "borrowing" from any of the numerous study guides, such as Cliff's Notes.  You
     must learn to use your own reading, writing, and thinking skills.