Literary Essays
Throughout the course, you will write and submit two literary essays. For each
paper, you will analyze the works of an author you choose from an assigned period
of American literature. The essays and their due dates are as follows:
a. The Colonial Period or The Revolutionary Period (1620-1820) (3 to 5 pages)
1. Your task for your author study will be to discuss what themes your author
typically wrote about, how his/her works helped shape the literature of the
period, and what makes his/her writing style unique.
2. You will not write a biography of the author. Biographical information, unless
it is directly related to his/her literary themes, should be limited to the
introductory paragraph.
3. You will not summarize any of the author’s works. You may assume that your
reader is familiar with and has read the works you are discussing.
4. The text of your papers must be a minimum of three pages and include no more
than five pages. The Works Cited page does not count as part of the text.


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Each paper must include researched information from at least TWO scholarly
sources. Wikipedia is not a scholarly source. High school cheat sites such as SparkNotes, Shmoop, Cliff’s Notes, Gradesaver, etc. are also not scholarly sources. I highly suggest using the library research databases.
6. Each paper must be written in correct MLA (9th Edition) format, which must
include proper in-text and/or parenthetical documentation of both primary
(author’s work) and secondary (outside) sources. You may use APA format;
however, I suggest using it ONLY if you’re both well experienced and
comfortable with it. NEVER combine MLA and APA formats in the same

7. Each paper must include a properly formatted Works Cited page (References
page with APA) that lists all primary and secondary sources. I must be able to
identify where you used each source listed in your text, either by in-text
citations or parenthetical documentation.
8. Type each paper double-spaced throughout using with 12-point Times New
Roman font. The beginning of each paragraph should be indented with one tab
space. There should be no boldface or underscored text.
9. Quotes are acceptable, but long or excessive quotes ruin essays by making them
B O R I N G. You also risk being charged with plagiarism when your paper
is too heavy on quotes and lacking in personal analysis. When more than 10%
of your paper consists of other people’s words, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
and likely a plagiarism charge coming. Use quotes only when absolutely
necessary (not to fill up pages), and it’s best to embed parts of them within
your own words. Be sure to cite all researched information, both quoted and
written in your own words. Refer to the handout “Integrating Sources” to help
with summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting researched information.
10. If you need help with either MLA or APA format or with using the library
databases, you may visit or call any of the campus libraries during business
hours or visit http://www.lonestar.edu/library/ and use the Chat with the
Librarian feature on the LSC Libraries web page. The page includes numerous
resources for research and citations. Do not just guess when it comes to
formatting and documentation. It can cost you up to 25 points if your
documentation and formatting is incorrect.
11. Tutoring is available on all LSC campuses. Online tutoring is also available.
12. Papers must be submitted in the proper D2L Dropboxes by their due dates. You
may submit unlimited copies. I will grade only the last copy you submit.
13. See the Grading Rubric for Literary Essays to understand how your essays will
be graded.
14. Papers will be graded holistically; however, students may choose in advance to
have the paper graded conference style during office hours.
Again, when it comes to formatting, NEVER just guess when you are not 100%
sure. ALWAYS get help. Formatting errors receive high point deductions and can
result in your paper being marked “Not Gradable”.
Check the Academic Integrity section syllabus to see what constitutes plagiarism.
Copying someone else’s work from books or websites and presenting it as your
own—either intentionally or unintentionally—constitutes plagiarism. Submitting
an assignment that has already been submitted in another class is an act of

plagiarism, even if you wrote the assignment yourself. NEVER attempt to recycle
a paper.

Grading Rubric for Literary Essays

1. Content

The essay provides a clear original examination of how the author’s works are both unique and characteristic of his/her literary period. The student presents a thesis-driven essay with strong supporting details, incorporating researched evidence from at least two scholarly secondary sources. The text of the essay meets the three to five page minimum.

2. Format

Correct MLA Format

3. Organization.

The paper shows a thoughtful, logical, and clear layout of concepts. Transition sentences are smooth and quotes and/or researched information is embedded seamlessly into the student’s original writing. The paper is easy to follow.

4. Conventions

Work has been proofread. The essay contains no grammatical or spelling errors that take away from comprehension



In an academic essay, knowing how to integrate sources effectively is extremely important. Being able to integrate sources is important because it helps you:
· Bolster your point with the credibility or reputation of the source.
· Identify others’ opinions, theories, and personal explanations.
· Present assertions of fact that are open to dispute.
· Present statistics.
· Establish your ethos as a good, reliable scholar/researcher.
· Let readers know where to find information on your topic.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to integrate sources into a paper – summarizing, paraphrasing and quoting. First, it is important to understand the difference between these three things:
SUMMARY – A relatively brief objective account, in your own words, of the main ideas in a source or a source passage.
PARAPHRASE – A restatement, in your own words, of a passage of text. Its structure reflects (but does not copy) the structure of the source passage, and may be roughly the same length as the passage, but does not use exact wording.
QUOTE – Using the exact words of a source.
You will want to summarize and paraphrase most often in your research paper, using direct quotes sparingly. Putting source material in your own words shows readers that you have a true understanding of that material. Also, to restate in your own words the full meaning of a phrase or passage helps readers understand difficult, complex, jargon-riddled or ambiguous passages. Such passages, if quoted, will still require extensive explanation in order to be understood.
Following are some good reasons to use direct quotes:

· The source author has made a point so clearly and concisely that it can’t be expressed more clearly and concisely.

· A certain phrase or sentence in the source is particularly vivid or striking, or especially typical or representative of some phenomenon you are discussing.

· An important passage is sufficiently difficult, dense, or rich that it requires you to analyze it closely, which in turn requires that the passage be produced so the reader can follow your analysis.

· A claim you are making is such that the doubting reader will want to hear exactly what the source said. This will often be the case when you criticize or disagree with a source; your reader wants to feel sure you aren’t misrepresenting the source aren’t creating a straw man (or woman). And you need to quote
enough of the source so the context and meaning are clear.


To write a summary or paraphrase, first
read and reread your source until you understand exactly what it is saying.
Write down the relevant information from the source. At this point you may still be using phrasing and language from the source. So next
, rewrite this information into your own words and sentences so it becomes a coherent part of your paper written in your own style.

Remember, do not include your own ideas or commentary in the body of the summary or paraphrase. You should introduce a summary or paraphrase, then give your own ideas that show the significance of that summary or paraphrase afterward.
You don’t want your reader to become confused about which information is yours and which is the source’s. And you always have to
document summaries and paraphrases since the ideas are not your own.

Failing to document any ideas that are not your own (whether they are summarized, paraphrased or quoted) constitutes plagiarism.


Instructions: Below is a quotation followed by three samples, one of which inadvertently plagiarizes. See if you can identify what each sample is (a paraphrase or a summary), and see if you can “catch” the one that inadvertently plagiarizes.

“Empire State College has a policy describing the conditions under which students may be warned or withdrawn from the College for such unethical academic behavior as plagiarism, forgery, misrepresentation, or other dishonest or deceptive acts which constitute grounds for warning or administrative withdrawal” (CDL Student Handbook 5).


a. The Student Handbook states that the College may dismiss students who in any way present others’ work as their own (5).

b. According to policy in the Student Handbook, Empire State College may take punitive action (including dismissal) against students who act fraudulently. Fraudulent action includes using the words or ideas of others without proper attribution, falsifying documents, or depicting the words of others as one’s own (5).

c. The Student Handbook states that the College has a policy that describes the different instances under which students may be withdrawn from the College. These instances include plagiarism, forgery, misrepresentation, and other instances that show dishonest .

Instructions: Write a summary or paraphrase of the paragraph below.

“Beginning in 1952, television caused structural as well as superficial changes in American politics. That year, delegates of both parties were warned that the probing television lenses could capture every movement they made in their chairs. They were admonished to be careful about what they said to one another lest lip readers pick up the conversation from the television screen. Women delegates were cautioned against affronting blue-collar viewers by wearing showy jewelry” (Donovan and Scherer 21).

1. Always have a good reason for using a direct quote. Otherwise, paraphrase or summarize.
2. Do not allow quotes to speak for themselves. Your research paper is ultimately about communicating YOUR IDEAS. Your research simply helps prove or support those ideas. So, you should not just string other peoples ideas together giving quote after quote.

3. Always make sure you provide an analysis of the quote. Show your readers that you understand how the quote relates to your ideas by analyzing its significance.
4. Do not use quotes as padding. This is related to tips 1, 2 and 3. Very long quotes will require long explanations of their significance. If quotes do not have adequate analysis, readers will feel that you don’t have a grasp on what that quote means, and they also might feel that you are using quotes as “filler” to take up space.
5. Extract those parts of the passage that need quoting, and integrate quotes smoothly into your text. Following are some ideas on how to do this:
· Avoid wordy or awkward introductions to a quote:

In Simone de Beavoir’s book
The Coming of Age, on page 65 she states, “The decrepitude accompanying old age is in complete conflict with the manly or womanly ideal cherished by the young and fully grown.”


In The Coming of Age, Simone de Beavoir contends that “the decrepitude accompanying old age is “in complete conflict with the manly or womanly ideal cherished by the young and fully grown” (65).

Choose your introductory verb carefully: If you want to use a neutral verb, try using these: writes, says, states, observes, suggests, remarks, etc. If you want to convey and attitude or emotion try using verbs such as laments, protests, charges, replies, admits, claims, etc.

Combine quotes with a paraphrase or analysis:

Original: Tania Modleski suggests that “if television is considered by some

to be a vast wasteland, soap operas are thought to be the least nourishing

spot in the desert” (123).


Revised: In her critique of soap operas, Tania Modleski argues that some

view television as “a vast wasteland” and soap operas as “the least nourishing

spot in the desert” (123).

Use a few words of a quote for effect:

Example: As William Kneale suggests, some humans have a “moral deafness” which is never punctured no matter what the moral treatment (93).


Short Quotations

· If your quotations are less than four lines long (which is usually the case), place them in your text and enclose them with quotation marks.

· Remember to include a

parenthetical citation

for each quotation used.

Example: Pearl, who is Hawthorne’s symbol of truth, reaches a proportionately happy conclusion, becoming “the richest heiress of her day, in the New World” (243).

Example: Edward Zigler laments, “One finds violence, hostility, and aggression everywhere, including TV, the movies, and in many of our everyday social relations” (40).

· If your quote is not introduced with an author’s name, you will need to put that name in the parenthetical citation.

Example: For example, “One finds violence, hostility and aggression everywhere, including TV, the movies, and in many of our everyday social relations” (Zigler 40).

Long Quotations

· If a quotation is more than four lines long, set it off from your text by indenting.

· Introduce the quotation with a complete sentence and a



· Indent 10 spaces, double space the lines, and do not use quotation marks.

· Do not indent the opening line unless the quote begins a new paragraph.

Example: Robert Hastrow sums up the process in the following passage, where he compares rays of

light to a ball thrown up from the earth and returning because of the pull of gravity:

The tug of that enormous force prevents the ray of light from leaving the surface of the star; like the ball thrown upward from the earth, they are pulled back and cannot escape to space. All the light within the star is now trapped by gravity. From this moment on, the star is invisible. It is a black hole in space (65).

Use ellipses to indicate when you have omitted unnecessary words from a direct quote.

“Even to take drugs once or twice,” Diamond writes, “I must be strong enough to get past . . . the misery of my first hangover” (199).

You do not need to quote or cite information that is common knowledge. (The earth revolves around the sun. Excessive consumption of alcohol can impair your judgement).

Remember, avoid plagiarism at all costs! When in doubt, provide a citation.

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