Assignment Sheet: English 2030 Essay
Assignment Description: In this essay, you will select a specific text from our content and argue how the text teaches the reader about the time, place, and culture of its creation. The thesis of your essay, in other words, will argue that one of our specific stories can help modern scholars better understand the time from which it came.
Possible themes to explore include (but are not limited to) the following:
• Love and Marriage
• War and Responsibilities of a Soldier
• Social Views of Death
• Conflicting Ideas of Morality
• Family Dynamics
• Social Punishment
• Mental Illness and its Treatment
• Racial Tension
• Gender Struggle
• Fear of/Fascination with the Unfamiliar
• Importance of Tradition
• Causes/Effects of Violence
Here is an example thesis (Please note: students may not use this thesis for their own essays.):
“In the story ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find,’ the grandmother illustrates moral hypocrisy demonstrated in the 1950’s American south.”
Advice: Please follow these suggestions as well as those listed in the “Advice for Writing about Literature” worksheet.
You will need at least two main points to support your stance. For example, I can support my above thesis in these ways:
• The grandmother secretively manipulates her son Bailey, allowing his authority as “Man” to overshadow her authority as “Mother.” This reinforces the strict gender roles of the 1950’s.
• The grandmother sees herself as morally righteous yet still demonstrates racist thought and behavior. This fits with the apathy of the Christian south when faced with Jim Crow Laws of the 1950’s.
• The grandmother wears her Christian beliefs as a costume, able to disrobe them when threatened. This shows the fallout from World War 2 in which the American South began to question the nature of Good.
You will need textual support from the primary story you select as well as support from secondary sources. The secondary sources should justify that what the primary text suggests about the time/place/culture is valid. I encourage you to use our Library Databases in finding these secondary sources; please consult with me or the librarians on how to access and use these. Here are some examples of secondary sources I can use for my thesis:
• A newspaper article/editorial from the 1950s criticizing women in the workforce
• Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in which he criticizes the apathy shown by white church leaders concerning racial struggle
• A biographical excerpt about the formation of the Hell’s Angels being motivated by disillusioned WW2 veterans
So, your secondary sources set up a specific component of the time/place/culture of the story, while the primary source shows us what the story teaches us about that component.
Minimum Requirements: Any Essay Not Meeting All of These Minimum Requirements Will Receive a Grade of Zero!
The due date is posted in the Course Work Outline. Late submissions will not be accepted. Students must submit a digital copy to the D2L dropbox.
The essay must be at least four FULL pages long using these formatting guidelines (submissions can be longer than four pages):
• Times new roman font
• 12 point size
• 1 inch margins
• Double spaced lines
• No extra space between paragraphs
Students must include MLA formatted parenthetical citations and a works cited page.