ELIT 48C Kim Palmore 1
Essay 1: A Response to Literature of the Modernist period.
To Lean to Write a Clear and Cohesive Response to Literature
To Learn Rhetorical Strategies: Analysis, Synthesis, Argument, Cause and Effect, Compare and Contrast
To Learn Critical Thinking Skills
To Learn MLA Documentation Style: Integrating quotations; Works Cited
In this first half of our quarter, we have read and discussed multiple texts, theories, and opinions on both
literature and literary analysis, and for this reason, I offer you several choices for your first essay. In a
thesis driven essay of 500 to 750 words, respond to one of the following prompts. You need only the
primary text for this essay, but you may incorporate other stories, manifestos, or critical theory as
additional support. Remember, you can also draw on your own experiences and knowledge to discuss,
explain, and analyze your topic.
1. Discuss “Barn Burning” through the one critical lens. Use the questions critics use in each theory
to begin your interrogation of the text.
2. Write a character sketch of a character in “Barn Burning.” Discuss what the character brings to
3. Discuss a major symbol in the story “Barn Burning.” Discuss how the symbol is important to the
1. Discuss one poem through one critical lens.
2. Discuss one poem, focusing on modernism. Consider using one or more modern manifestos to
support your ideas.
3. Discuss one poem in terms of its cultural context. That is, how does the poem reflect the beliefs,
tensions, or trends of the time?
4. Discuss one poem via literary devices and form. How do they affect the meaning of the poem?
5. Discuss a significant theme that emerges in the poetry. Does the poetry deal with themes related
to love, death, war, or peace? Are there particular historical events that are mentioned in the
poem? What are the most important concepts that are addressed in the poem?
Zora Neale Hurston
“The Eatonville Anthology”
1. Analyze how Zora Neale Hurston enriches our sense of her community through diction and point
2. Discuss either or both of the pieces we read by Zora Neale Hurston through a modernist lens. Or
use any critical perspective we have covered so far. You may combine to complicate your ideas.
ELIT 48C Kim Palmore 2
“How It Feels to be Colored Me”
3. Discuss why the pieces we have read by Zora Neale Hurston pushed her away from the heart of
the Harlem Renaissance movement. Be sure to offer textual support for your argument.
4. Hurston purports to be debunking stereotypes, but are there instances in “How it Feels to be
Colored Me,” which she might be criticized for playing to stereotypical notions of African
Americans? Consider the evidence for both sides and make your argument.
1. In the Introduction to Volume D of the Norton Anthology of American Literature the editor Mary
Loeffelholz identifies the following formal and aesthetic characteristics of modernist literature:
Compared with earlier writing, modernist literature is notable for what it omits--the explanations,
interpretations, connections, summaries, and distancing that provide continuity, perspective and
security in traditional literature (1078).
Identify and analyze these characteristic features of modernist aesthetic in one work that we have read so
2. In the Introduction to Volume D of the Norton Anthology of American Literature, Mary Loeffelholtz
identifies three characteristic issues of literary modernism: (a) "the question of how engaged in
political and social struggle a work of literature ought to be"; (b) "the place of the popular in serious
literature"; and (c) the role of tradition versus the quality of authenticity in the work of literature
(Norton 1072). Consider one or two of the works we have read this semester in relation to these
issues. Describe and discuss to what extent one or more of these characteristic issues of literary
modernism is relevant to understanding the work or works you are considering.
Note: You are free to pursue another writing topic. Please, discuss it with me before you begin so we can
make sure that it is viable.
Submission Requirements: Please submit an electronic copy to firstname.lastname@example.org
Format Requirement: MLA-style formatting and citations
Length: Your finished text should be between 500-750 words, excluding the Works Cited page.
Research Requirements: none
Works Cited Page
A Works Cited page names all of the sources that were used in an essay or research paper; it credits the
source or sources for the information you present, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize to support your
thesis. A Works Cited page also serves as a reference to the sources that were used so that a reader or
writer can quickly refer to the original text. If you use other sources, including other primary or secondary
sources from class, please list those too.
ELIT 48C Kim Palmore 3
Expected Student Learning Outcomes
§ Demonstrate outlining and brainstorming abilities
§ Demonstrate an awareness of the time needed to plan, search, and write an essay
§ Demonstrate increased awareness of strategies for organizing ideas and structuring essays
§ Demonstrate an ability to use complex sentence structures
§ Demonstrate an understanding of multiple rhetorical strategies
§ Demonstrate active reading strategies by finding textual evidence
§ Learn to integrate quotations effectively and correctly
Previously Learned Skills Required to Complete this Assignment
ü The ability to summarize sources
ü The ability to use multiple rhetorical strategies: Narration, Description, Exemplification
ü An awareness of plagiarism issues
ü The ability to write grammatically correct, clear sentences.
ü The ability to write a clear and concise thesis.
ü The ability to brainstorm material for an essay.
ü The ability to organize an essay
Ø As you (re)read The Great Gatsby, keep in mind the prompts and highlight specific passages,
lines, or scenes that may support your argument.
Ø Write a thesis that helps readers understand both your argument and your reasoning.
Ø Include textual examples that illustrate your points.
Ø Avoid telling the reader that something is “interesting,” or “exciting”; instead create images or
use examples that show it.
Ø Come to my office if you are unsure, confused, or behind.
Traps to Avoid:
Ø Choosing a topic that you do not understand or one not on the list that you have not discussed
Ø Failing to assert a clear and strong argument.
Ø Seeking to present the subject from memory or hearsay.
Ø Failing to support the argument with evidence from appropriate sources.
Ø Citing Wikipedia (or other non-academic or unreliable sources) as a source for your paper.