We will have other reading and writing assignments besides these in the next few weeks, but listed are the most pertinent deadlines for the Final Essay drafting process.

Navigating these instructions:

First, let’s define this key term, “literary analysis essay.” To do this, read and take some notes on Purdue OWL’s resource on “Writing a Literary Analysis.”

Note that the resource talks about secondary sources. You are welcome to use a scholarly article for this essay (I recommend using JUST one, if you do), but consider that the prompt requires you do a TON of close reading of the novel itself, so don’t let any outside source prevent you from showing a focus on your own interpretations and analysis.

This literary analysis essay should be persuasive, analytical, and evaluative. This means you will create an argument for an original claim you make about the novel Kindred while also showing how it helps you assess the value of the text as a whole.

You’ll see that this final assignment has two parts.

Both writings are required. TurnItIn only allows submission of one file, so please have both the literary analysis essay and the short writing included in the SAME document, in that order (literary analysis essay then short writing). Simply have the short writing begin on the page after your literary analysis essay works cited page.

THE MAIN PROMPT: PART 1 – Kindred Literary Analysis on Theme

Answer the question below in a 1500-1800 word essay by using evidence and analysis from Kindred.

What is the full theme of Kindred? In other words, what assertion about the nature of life, society, or humankind brings deeper meaning to specific aspects of this story and the novel overall?

Remember that a theme is not a one-word topic. “Theme” is the main assertion that Butler seems to be making with the whole text. It takes at least one whole sentence to express, and this will be your thesis. Your thesis statement should come in the form of a carefully-worded response to the prompt question that you place at the end of your introduction paragraph.

Create an argument to show how this theme is fused into what you uniquely observe to be distinct, critical parts of the story.

Provide direct quotes from Kindred and analysis of multiple moments throughout the text. Use our past readings and activities to help you observe, identify, analyze, and deepen the way your theme arises through at least three direct quotes from three different chapters – to showcase and analyze specific moments in the text.

Each of these moments should help you show your theme as a unifying statement that is supported by your analysis of how literary elements, literary devices, literary issues, or literary theories can be applied to the quote. In your conclusion, work to synthesize meaning and explain your theme’s importance for readers of Kindred.

If you are considering also including a direct quote from a scholarly article, this can work, but is not required. No outside research is necessary, but any outside research should be scholarly if used. Carefully consider if and how this helps you if you want to do it, because you want to be able to prove your theme with evidence and analysis from the novel itself before incorporating others’ findings (which can sometimes distract and detract from you showing your own theme argument).

See more details on requirements and ways to start writing below.

THE MAIN PROMPT: PART 2 – Short Writing

Select ONE of the questions below to create a 300-600 word letter addressed to me (Prof. Ang). Choose just one to respond deeply instead of trying to answer multiple questions at a surface level.

Please compose this polished, proofread short writing as a memo in which you reflect on and address your selected question in a thoughtful way. This means that though the tone can be less formal than an essay, the writing itself should show some extended thought and revision. Instead of simply creating a rushed, scattered reflection, select one question, then brainstorm (free-write, outline, etc.) and organize your writing so it has a beginning, middle and end.

Select one of the following questions:

How has the way you view, read, interpret or value language or literature changed as a result of this class, and what caused this change?

How has the way you think critically, analyze deeply, or interpret meaningfully grown as a result of our work together?

What was the biggest challenge you faced as a writer, reader, thinker, or student coming into this class, and in what ways did you meet this challenge? Point to specific moments in your writing or performance that show this.

How would you describe the main way your writing improved, and what allowed you to improve in this way?

What lessons, strategies, or goals will you take away from this class and try to continue using in your other classes or beyond academia?

A literary analysis essay must include these minimum requirements to be of passing quality or better:

Completion of all the directives listed above (under THE MAIN PROMPT)

An understanding of the literary element of “theme,” including uncovering the deeper significance of a main claim Butler seems to be making (instead of simply stating a one-word topic or subject that exists in the novel)

A 3rd level thesis that shows observation, opinion, and significance for the text, proven through close reading and synthesis of your points

An understanding of and an ability to “read closely” by presenting key words and phrases of quotes in order to dissect language, show authorial intention, or analyze other literary elements and why they matter

Body paragraphs that show TEA structure (topic sentence, evidence, analysis)

At least three quotes from three different chapters of Kindred, smoothly integrated into TEA paragraphs

This means providing brief, contextual relevance, including each in a sentence that begins with your own words, and using a strong signal verb before the quote

An explanation of how and why each example adds significance to the theme you want to show

Body paragraphs should have a clear point, briefly contextualize each moment you want to discuss, integrate the evidence, then move quickly toward analyzing and interpreting the text instead of relying on summary to fill the essay.

Organization of the essay’s ideas that makes it easy for readers to follow main points, clearly identify the selected topic in each example, and understand WHY the topic is significant to showing a full theme

To structure the essay well, you’ll need a thesis that appears as the last sentence of your introduction and support for that thesis in the form of well-organized, insightful body paragraphs that showcase your familiarity with the book and our essay writing concepts

Literary analysis for each quote that shows literary aspects of the language or moment you quote – through applying and explaining literary devices, issues, or theories

An attempt to conclude in a way that synthesizes all points made and digs deeper into why this theme is significant to us in our current context

Minimum requirements for college essays including use of MLA format

Follow the formatting conventions that are listed in the syllabus, and refer to Purdue OWL to make sure your essay meets MLA standards. I recommend using the document template which is already in MLA format.

A focused, intentional effort to grow areas of improvement identified in Essay #1 and Essay #2 feedback, including finding and polishing any grammatical or sentence-level errors

In-text citations with page numbers after each quote, and a works cited page that includes the full, correct citation for the book. No outside texts or research are required for this essay. I highly recommend sticking only to quotes from the book unless you see a great way to include a direct quote from a scholarly article to support your theme. If you include outside texts, they should be scholarly or peer-reviewed sources, and you must cite them using both in-text and works cited citations in MLA format.

An essay can also include these additional requirements to be considered of good or excellent quality:

An insightful, lucid argument supported by carefully-selected textual evidence to ultimately show the importance of the theme discussed and the value of Octavia Butler’s Kindred – not just for readers of this text but for society as a whole

Well-developed and strongly flowing introductions and conclusions that add to the overall coherence and cohesiveness of the essay

An engaging, interesting literary analysis of each quote that fully explains how the quote proves the theme thesis statement

Transitions that show clear connections between different sections and ideas in the essay

An attempt to cultivate your own unique and insightful voice as a writer through revision and proofreading, including rereading – to make each part clear and to make the overall tone as reflective of your own astute observations as possible

A thorough proofreading of the final version to show very few (if any) grammatical or sentence-level errors

Demonstration of careful editing to make the paper “reader friendly” and appropriately academic, even while it shows your own personal voice

The components above are specific to this particular essay assignment, but don’t forget we also have an overall grading rubric that applies to all our major assignments…

View the Grading Rubric for all our essays here

Academic Integrity and Requirements Concerning the Use of Artificial Intelligence:

In my teaching, I always lead with the fact that I trust you and I believe in you as my student. I know you are capable, smart, and willing to ask all the right questions to help you meet any challenge you face in our class.

I hope that comes across loud in clear in all that we do. That being said, I also want to acknowledge that whenever we get to the Kindred essay in my English 123 classes, at least one student in every class ends up turning in an essay that shows some form of plagiarized text, AI-generated writing, or an over-reliance on internet sources that are passed off as their own ideas. Often this is done unknowingly, but not always. So I want to be direct and clear about this to prevent any issues. As stated in the syllabus…

Plagiarism is using another person’s words or ideas as your own: copying another person’s or artificial intelligence’s words or ideas without citing the source, failing to set off a passage properly with quotation marks, using your own work from another class or assignment, or having other people write or excessively edit for you. Any assignment found to be plagiarized or showing academic dishonesty in any form is subject to receiving a score of zero without eligibility for resubmission of the assignment. This can result in a reduced grade or an “F” in the course. Campus policy requires that issues of academic dishonesty are referred to the Dean of Student Services. If you are unsure about this, or if you have trouble separating your ideas from the work of others, please ask so we can discuss ways to make your writing and ideas your own. Do your own work as best you can, because we care about and want to hear your unique insights on the texts we are reading together.

So, in addition to everything listed above, you are required to select one of the following options.

Choose either #1 or #2.

Research, gather direct quotes, form ideas, and write your entire essay and short writing with absolutely NO use of ChatGPT or any other artificial intelligence bots, websites, or apps. In addition, create your own literary analysis points based on your close readings of the literature. None of your writing should be driven from reading or using online, non-scholarly internet sources that give analytical points or ideas about the literature (including but not limited to LitCharts, SparkNotes, shmoop, etc.). If you select this option, no other action is required.

If you use ChatGPT or any other artificial intelligence bots, websites, or apps and/or any other online, non-scholarly internet sources, you must send me a message to let me know immediately. We will meet together in student hours, and you will receive an altered version of this Final Essay prompt that takes critical evaluation of AI or other sources into account. If disclosed ahead of the essay deadline, we will meet, and you will still be able to write a great essay. However, the assignment will require a stronger level of critical thinking to account for the inclusion of these other sources.

Any Final Essay submission that shows undisclosed use of AI or online, non-scholarly internet sources will be subject to the academic dishonesty policy outlined in our syllabus: earning a “0” score without eligibility for resubmission of the assignment.

To sum up, please come to me if you ever feel the need to rely on internet sources or plagiarize instead of writing your own work. Please talk to me if deadlines are approaching and we’ll work out a plan to help you. I want you to feel supported and capable so you can succeed and get the most out of your education.

Your audience:

You will be writing this essay for an intended audience of your English 123 classmates and an imaginary academic community of literary scholars. Assume that both these audiences have read the novel, so get right to each example and analyze (instead of summarizing the story).

Some tips to help with drafting:

In your writing process, you may want to ask questions: If you had to free-write about one main topic before reading the book, what would you write about it? If you had to free-write after, what would you write? What would have changed, and how might that help you form a working thesis?

Review your annotations on moments where a topic (that can turn into a theme) arises. If you haven’t selected a topic, review your annotations for the book and see which topic is most prevalent in those sections. Consider the excerpts that stood out most to you. Let your thesis and argument be guided by specific, important passages that you annotated or noticed in reading. If the theme you’re trying to prove becomes difficult to close read for, be open to using the evidence you’ve gathered towards analyzing deeply and finding a different, more insightful theme that comes to light when particular moments are considered in relation to one another.

Refer back to and reread Chapter 3 on “How to Make Arguments About Literature,” Chapter 7 on “Theme,” and the close reading sample of “The Story of an Hour.” These readings provide many excellent points about what a strong literary analysis entails and must consider.

We will have performed many initial writings and we will have discussed many aspects of the book. this means you will have done some pre-drafting work already! Review and reflect on your reactions as you formulate your essay. You have already generated many ideas. You have already done “pre-drafting” work and created many ideas in your responses. You are more than welcome to use these as a starting point for this essay.

One of the biggest mistakes made when writing this essay is spending too much time summarizing and not enough time analyzing. Summarize only as much as is needed in order for your reader to know what moment you’re discussing. Quickly move to literary analysis through close reading and make this each body paragraph’s primary focus. We have all read the novel together, so have your own unique interpretations (rather than recapping what we already know) lead your reader to deeper meaning.

Writing about a theme can naturally lead to the cohesion and logic needed for essay writing. Think about whether you want to organize points chronologically, in order of importance, or some other way that best showcases how you see multiple points in the novel working together to prove the theme you discuss.

Again, no outside sources are required for this essay; close reading of the novel itself is your focus. If you do include any outside texts, they should be scholarly or peer-reviewed, and they need to have proper in-text citations as well as a works cited page.

You’re being asked to evaluate the work in addition to arguing for a theme that it presents. Conclusions can be the best place for this evaluation to take place as you revisit and synthesize earlier points to then show what they all say when put together and considered in a larger, societal context.

As always, write about ideas in the book you are comfortable analyzing and presenting, and we will all be respectful and supportive of classmates’ papers during the reviewing process.

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