Essay 1

ENG 2800 – Great Works of Literature I

First Essay Assignment 

Due date: September 24, by 11:59 PM. Please submit your paper via Blackboard.

Guidelines: 3 pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, parenthetical citations (no bibliography required). Please do not use outside sources.

In this assignment, I ask you to write a three-page close analysis focused on a particular topic, idea, theme, or motif from one of the poems we have read thus far. Possible texts include: Genesis, Job, and Gilgamesh. By analysis, I mean that your paper should engage in close detail with the language of the text. A close reading typically does the following:

It strives to

  • Focus on linguistic details, such as an author’s use of figurative language
  • Draw meaning from the details of the text
  • Connect broader claims to textual evidence
  • Show sophisticated attention to themes and ideas that are not self-evident (i.e., that are not simply true or false)
  • Demonstrate the evolution of a concept or idea (for example, “friendship” in Gilgamesh: how does this idea evolve throughout the poem?)

It avoids

  • Plot summary/paraphrase
  • Digression
  • Over-use of quotation
  • Broad generalization (e.g., “Since the beginning of time …” or “In Milton’s time, everyone thought …”)
  • Vague language

I encourage you to meet with me for a one-on-one conference over Zoom if you would like to discuss your essay and strategies for good writing. I also encourage you to take advantage of the Baruch Writing Center by scheduling a consultation to discuss your writing before the essay assignment is due.

This essay is short—only three pages. But it requires you to focus your observations and claims to extract the most from your analysis in a small amount of space. If you have any questions about close reading or what I am asking of you, again, please speak with me directly or refer to our weekly blog for examples of concise, focused analysis.

I am not providing prompts for this assignment, but do feel free to chat with me about your ideas and how to develop them in an analytic essay.