Assignment 2--Prose Analysis and Explication
1250-1750 words (5-7 pages, double-spaced)
In this assignment you will come to terms with a very important chapter from Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd: I mean, of course, Chapter 22, "The Great Barn and the Sheep-Shearers." Your intended reader is an intelligent English major who has not yet taken this class but who read the novel superficially some years ago. This is a chance to refine the analytical work you were encouraged to do on your poetry explication, applying your skills to a chapter in our novel, and extending your reach into the wider body of reading we have done this quarter.
- Thursday, May 25, for comments and revision suggestions
- Thursday, June 1, for comments and a grade (no revision)
- Thursday, June 8, for grade and minimal comments
Papers will be accepted by noon on Friday, June 9th, but not on the day of the final exam, which is Saturday, June 10th, 4-6 PM.
Your actual essay must efficiently indicate
Quickly walk your reader through the chapter, commenting and highlighting as you go, and delve more deeply where indicated. Your essay should be structured in a way that the reader can follow your points and keep your analytical thread throughout the chapter.
- what the chapter does--how it works with respect to plot, theme, characterization, imagery, and/or dramatic effect, as appropriate),
- clarify the many ways it is important or significant, and
- discuss how it engages us at the level of language, ideas and style.
[Hint: The sooner you begin writing and outlining, the sooner you can buttonhole me or Melissa or Greg someplace and make sure you understand what's going on. We can also steer you away from directions that would be unsuitable for this assignment.]
You should deftly make connections to other aspects of the novel AND to at least FIVE other works we have read, exploring the ways in which this chapter illuminates your reading this quarter, and the ways your reading this quarter enriches your experience of this chapter. You may touch on other resonances it sets up, including allusions to historical / political / religious controversies, but you must maintain your focus on the chapter, and you should avoid seeking "help" in the critical or analytical sources.
Above all, your essay must promote a clear thesis, exhibit good organization, and feature solid development--it has to hang together as a coherent and well-written essay. Proofread for strong constructions, good grammar and correct spelling. Enjoy the opportunity to share and refine your insights, and you should learn a lot from this exercise.
Be sure to check out the Hints on Essay Writing and other aids as they become available.
Last updated: 11 May 2000