ENGLISH 286 -- PAPER 1
Due Monday, September 24, 2007
Length: Approx. 5-7 pages
This typed or computer-printed essay should explicate one or more of
the works we have read this semester. The word "explication"
comes from a Latin word that means "unfolding." When you
explicate a novel or poem, you "unfold" its meaning in an essay by
interpreting or analyzing a portion of it. You can analyze a
character, a single incident, symbols, point of view, structure, and so
on. No explication can take into account everything that goes on
in a novel or a poem--the explication would be longer than the work you
are analyzing--so your paper should focus on one or two elements that
you think contribute to the overall meaning or purpose of the novel or
group of poems. A good explication concentrates on details:
you should quote from the work to show how the text supports your
You should avoid simply summarizing the work you decide to write
about. While your essay may begin with a short summary in order
to set context, you should be certain to analyze rather than to
summarize. One way to avoid summary is crafting an argumentative
thesis that takes an arguable point of view on the novel, a point of
view that will require support from the text itself. For example,
a paper that begins, "Joseph Conrad's Heart
of Darkness is about a trip into the Congo," does not promise to
develop into an argument about the meaning of the novel, while the
sentence, "Marlow's journey into the Congo in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is not only a
physical voyage, but also a symbolic rediscovery of elements of the
human mind the modern world thinks it has repressed or escaped,"
suggests that the writer will focus her attention on one particular
aspect of the text, analyzing how this feature (the "primitive"
elements in Heart of Darkness)
"works" in the book, both in terms of how it is presented superficially
in the text and perhaps in terms of some tensions created between this
superficial level and what really happens in the book.
--When you write about
literature, write in the present tense when discussing the text:
"When he witnesses the
natives dancing on the shore, Marlow is 'thrilled' to feel a 'remote
--Follow your direct
quotations with the appropriate page number from the text in
parentheses. If you have used a text other than those listed on
the syllabus, please include a bibliographical reference to this text
at the end of your paper.
--Your paper should be typed or computer-printed,
double-spaced, on 8 1/2" by 11" white paper.
--Quotations longer than four lines should be presented in
single-spaced blocks indented in the text.