Associate Professor & Associate Head of English

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April 7th Writing Prompts

Respond to all three of the following prompts.

Submit your responses on our eLC course site: Tools > Assignments

  1. Shelley employs the terza rima stanza in “Ode to the West Wind.” Define the terza rima stanza and discuss how Shelley uses it in the poem.
  2. Each section of “Ode to the West Wind” is 14 lines long. In what way does Shelley evoke the sonnet structure here? How can each section be considered an experimental sonnet? Can this be considered a sonnet cycle?
  3. All three of the poems read for today are written in the wake of political violence following the conclusion of the Napoleonic War. Shelley was particularly disturbed by the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. What was the Peterloo Massacre and how does Shelley respond to it in his poetry? Focus your response on one of the two sonnets read for today.

March 30th through April 23rd

Tuesday, March 31st: Complete Writing Prompt by Monday, March 30th at 5:00pm

Thursday, April 2nd: Complete Writing Prompt by Wednesday, April 1st at 5:00pm

Tuesday, April 7th: Complete Writing Prompt by Monday, April 6th at 5:00pm

Thursday, April 9th: Complete Writing Prompt by Wednesday, April 8th at 5:00pm

Tuesday, April 14th: Complete Writing Prompt by Monday, April 13th at 5:00pm

Thursday, April 16th: Complete Writing Prompt by Wednesday,

April 15th at 5:00pm

Tuesday, April 21st: Complete Writing Prompt by Monday, April 20th at 5:00pm

Essay Prospectus Due

Thursday, April 23rd: Complete Writing Prompt by Wednesday, April 22nd at 5:00pm

Essay Due on May 5th

4500, Poetry Reports Advice, Spring 2020

1) Please note that you are asked to provide the dates of composition and publication, and to note where the circumstances are particularly interesting. Your focus should be on the text and not the poet’s life (unless the poet specifically invites such speculation by referring to him or herself in the poem). If socio-historical context plays a role in the composition and publication, you could mention that.

Throughout the poetry report I’ll expect you to notate genres correctly: i.e. long works are italicized Songs of Innocence and Experience and short works are signified by quotation marks: i.e. “The Lamb”

2a) It may be that you’ll need to look up several words before you find really productive vocabulary. Do not be content with the first two words you look up if they do not lead you in interesting directions. You should also note the source that you used. Please italicize the words you are working with or otherwise clearly indicate them.

b) Please be clear about what an allusion is before you embark upon this task (Broadview Glossary 11). If there aren’t any allusions there are not any allusions, recognizing that there aren’t any there is worth 5 points, but that means you can’t miss any either. You can use allusions noted in the footnotes, but you must take them further either by exploring the significance of the allusion to the work. Some poems are full of allusions: choose the ones that are most evocative. If there are not allusions, you will want to speculate as to why? Often it has to do with the poem’s audience, form and/or intent.

3) Sometimes you must describe the poem rather than relying upon formal nomenclature. In either case, you should describe what is going on specifically: identify the meter, the stanza form, the rhyme scheme (if there is one), and the significance of the structure. Here is a strong entry.

On Smith’s Sonnet LIX: “The piece is a Petrarchan (or Italian) Sonnet. The meter is iambic pentameter, except lines 3 and 6 which both begin with a dactyl, before resuming the iambic pattern, but still remaining pentameter. Lines 8 and 9 seem to use words with heavy accents and in scansion are slightly different using more dactyls [unsullied and dignity] perhaps to draw the reader’s attention to the rumbling clouds below the serene moon, lest they be forgotten. The rhyme scheme is abbaababcdcdcd.


on the same poem: “Sonnet (Italian). The standard consists of an octet in ABBA then a turn or resolution presented in the following sestet of CDCCDC or CDECDE. Smith varies a bit on form having Sonnet LIX rhyme ABBAABABCDCDCD. However, the turn is clearly marked with the pause in the dash. The poem shifts from the observation of a simple natural occurrence to a representation of great human unrest. The turn feature of the sonnet form is very important to this piece.

4) Here is where you get to suggest an interpretation of the poem. As a rule, the rest of the poetry report collects information, rather than poses an interpretation. Please be specific and precise in your language. Always include at least 1 (and ideally more than 1) direct citation from the poem under consideration. Please use the MLA citation method. Here is a link to a helpful site (although it does not replace the book): The Purdue OWL

5) The key to getting 10 points here is being specific. Do not traffic in vague generalities about similarities and differences, or in vague references to other works. Be specific.

6) You will need to go beyond #5 if you are still working with the same texts and ideas.

Don’t run out of steam! The last three entries are worth 25 points.

4460 Writing Prompts #1

Choose one of the following topics as a prompt when constructing your thesis. It is important for your essay to have both a thesis and specific evidence from the literature to support that thesis. Remember: saying that there are “similarities and differences” does not a thesis make. When comparing two or more things we can always find shared elements as well as disparate elements. In your thesis you need to specifically identify the grounds of your comparison. Think of a thesis as the first step in proving your particular reading of a piece of literature.

The topics below are just that: topics. You will find an array of suggestions rather than prescribed questions. Furthermore, I have specified no texts. You will eventually “customize” the topic as you form your thesis. You need not feel compelled to answer all of these questions in your essay, and you should certainly also engage with questions of your own.

Paper Length: 5-7 pages

Please follow MLA guidelines from the MLA Handbook. If you don’t have an MLA Handbook, you should probably purchase one. The Purdue Owl website has been updated, however, and may be sufficient.

Refer to Writing Presentation 2019for guidelines and expectations

Please turn all essays in electronically (google doc link or .doc to

Essay due by Tuesday, February 12th

2320, Second Semester Exam, Spring 2018

Part I: You will be asked to identify 10 out of 12 passages from the works that we’ve read so far this semester. In order to receive full credit, all titles and authors must be spelled correctly. [20 Points]. Please ID passages in the space provided for it on this packet. If you identify all 12 passages, I will only grade the first 10.

Part II: Please respond to ALL of the short prompts attached to 3 of the identified passages (or sets of passages). Your responses should be no less than 2 or 3 paragraphs. DO NOT WRITE ON THE SAME WORK TWICE. [60 Points]. Please use your blue book for your responses to the writing prompts.

2320 Essay Assignment 1, Spring 2018

Your essay is due at the beginning of class on Monday, February 12th

All of the following questions require that you first generate a thesis specific to the essay at hand. Once you have stated your position, you will need to prove your argument by carefully looking at the chosen material and mustering textual evidence to support that position.

Avoid biographical readings of the texts. Your assignment here is to support literary analysis through close reading of the literature itself.

Please do not use any outside criticism for this assignment

Other Guidelines:

You must discuss at least 2 pieces of literature but no more than 3

Paper Length etc.: 5 pages, Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced

Use MLA format when writing your essay. See the Purdue Owl website for assistance if you don’t have an MLA Handbook.


Grading Rubric for 2320

Writing Guidelines for English 2320

Choose one of the following writing prompts to develop into an essay:

In his essay on fiction, Samuel Johnson insists that authors should “imitate nature” but only “those parts of nature which are most proper for imitation” (BABL 18th-Century 767). Does Horace Walpole conform to Johnson’s directive? If so, how? If not, what does he assert instead?

Was the eighteenth-century an “age of reason”? or one of “the sublime”? In an essay that draws upon at least two eighteenth-century texts, answer the above question in either the affirmative or negative. Support your assertion with careful analysis of your chosen texts.

Romantic authors had a very different concept of the writer/poet than their immediate predecessors in the eighteenth century. Compare and contrast the ways in which writers in the eighteenth century and the Romantic period characterize the artistic mind: its powers, the work it produces, and its potential effect upon society. In your essay you may want to consider different attitudes toward reason and the imagination; different uses of poetic form (i.e. the choice between heroic couplets and the lyric, for example); and/or different attitudes about the role of the poet in society. Restrict yourself to a discussion of one work by an eighteenth-century author and one work by a Romantic writer. In responding to this prompt, you may write on William Blake and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as Charlotte Smith or William Cowper.

In several works we have read this semester, authors have either explicitly or implicitly expressed hopes for the ways in which the writer – as a social figure – can materially impact society. In your essay, discuss the ways in which writers characterize the social role of literature. Make sure that you discuss the works literary strategies specifically; you must go beyond the “big ideas” to discuss specifics (i.e. choice of literary form, the cultivation of a voice in the text, the use of sound devices, etc.).

You may choose to develop one of the writing prompts found on the first semester exam. I would ask that you let me know that this is your intention no later than Friday, February 9th.

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