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Fall2009 World Lit Paper 1

Page history last edited by Brian Croxall 10 years, 12 months ago

Paper 1

3-4 pages

Due: 6 October



As we discussed in class, the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson presents us with a speaker who might not be as perfect a hero as Odysseus appears to be in The Odyssey. Write a 3-4 page paper that makes an argument about the character of the speaker of Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses.” 



This assignment asks you to do a “close reading” of a poem. As you’ll remember from what I’ve said in class, a close reading is generated by looking at the fine details of a poem, story, or novel and using them to build an understanding or an interpretation of some aspect of the work. In the case of this paper, I am asking you to close read Tennyson’s poem and to give me an interpretation of the character of Ulysses. As you’ll no doubt remember from class, two possible interpretations of his character are that he’s a hero or that he’s a jerk.


What you are to do in this assignment, then, is to make your argument by using the language of the poem. You need to show me the evidence of the claims you are making through the words that Tennyson uses in the poem. Think about not only the denotation but also the connotation of what these words mean. (The online Oxford English Dictionary can be very helpful in thinking through both of these.) But don’t stop at the words alone (see appendix). Anything that is in the poem is and should be fair game for you to make your argument. 


The way that you show that you are using the language of the poem to make your argument is to use direct quotations from the poem. And then to analyze them. A rough rule says that for every line of poetry that you have from the poem you should have a minimum of two lines of your writing that analyzes the passage. If you quote three lines of the poem, then, you should have at least six lines of commentary. If you are not using direct quotations from the poem, you will be unable to make an effective argument. 


A good scholar is always careful to show where her evidence comes from. As a better-than-good scholar, you will obviously do the same. As you use quotations in your work, you must appropriately cite the lines of the poem you are quoting by placing the line numbers within parentheses at the end of the sentence, but before the period. This is frequently called MLA style. 


For this assignment, you do not need external sources. For one thing, the assignment is short and you cannot effectively do a thorough reading and integrate research in the allotted pages. For another thing, we already talked about the poem in great detail in class. You should feel free to draw on our class discussion of the poem. I am not looking for you to write the most original paper about “Ulysses”; rather, I am looking for you to write a paper that effectively uses evidence from a literary text to make a literary argument. Your presentation of the material and its effective, rhetorical organization will be the key to doing well on this assignment. 



You should of course refer to my grading standards in the syllabus. However, I will say explicitly that you should pay attention to the following things:  

  • Thesis: Does your paper have a clear thesis statement that presents an arguable claim that clearly indicates engagement with alternative views?
  • Topic sentences: Does each paragraph begin with a topic sentence (i.e., do not begin with a summary / paraphrase / introduction to a quotation) and is clearly related to the thesis?
  • Evidence: Do you support your claims through direct reference to the text and do you provide the appropriate amount of analysis for each reference?


Manuscript Formatting

Your paper must:

  • be in 12-point Times New Roman font
  • be double-spaced except for where you type your name and the date on the first page or where you have block quotations
  • have a title.
  • have pages that are numbered and stapled
  • have margins must be 1” on all sides
    • You should note that the default margins in Microsoft Word are not 1”. You might have to change them.


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