Paper 3/Digital Essay


Paper #3: An Investigation!

Step One: For your final paper of the semester I would like you to select one specific poem by one of the authors we’ve read or will read in class (this includes the texts on the Electronic Literature Collection).  If you would like to pursue something not on this list, please let me know and be prepared to convince me why you should write a paper on this topic or individual.

Some sites you might visit to find poems…

The Poetry Foundation

Electronic Poetry Center

Pennsound (audio & video recordings)

Step Two: You must do some research on your chosen topic (person or poem). Visit the library, search JSTOR and other databases, find at least one article or source on your writer or poem. What do these “critical” sources tell you about your topic? What thesis is proven in these sources? Do you agree or disagree with the point of view presented? Why or why not?

Step Three: What made you pick the poem you’ve chosen to write about? The answer to this question should help you to formulate a thesis or opinion about the work, an argument that makes an opinionated statement about your chosen subject.

Keep in mind that this assignment is purposely vague—I wanted our last paper of the semester to really give you some room to explore a topic of your own choosing. That said, please make sure that your paper is specific and opinion-driven. You should think about how to use the research you’ve done in order to support your own ideas.

It is not acceptable to think of a thesis as a statement like: “Anne Waldman is one of the best living poets because her work is strong and powerful.” A more successful thesis might be something like: “Anne Waldman’s Fast Speaking Woman is a poem that has stood the test of time, presenting a litany-esque critique of women’s roles (in all their variousness) in society—an open form that is timeless in its assertions of gender equality and a poem that should be a mantra for all women growing up in American society.”

Cover Letters: At this point in the semester, I think you know what I expect of cover letters. Each draft must have one. Each cover letter should serve as an opportunity for you to tell the reader what you think you achieved in the paper and what you need help with.

ROUGH DRAFT DUE: Tuesday, May 1 (5-7 pages, bring 3 copies to class)


FINAL DRAFT DUE: Thursday, May 10 (5-7 pages typed)

I will not accept any papers later than May 10, 2012.

I will not accept this final draft via email.

You MUST hand this paper in on May 10, in class!

Final Project Prep:

It is hard to believe that we have only a month left of the semester! And, I know you might feel a little bit overwhelmed by all the work that is expected of you. If you follow the steps and assignments outlined here, hopefully the process of completing both the digital project and paper 3 will be a breeze.

Preparation # 1/Response Paper 3:  Select one poet or poem that you are particularly enthusiastic about and use this freewrite to figure out why.  What is it about this work that you like? How does the poet do what he/she does? What feelings does it evoke? What purpose does a poem serve?

(Think of this as a space to begin your brainstorming for the final paper.)

Due: Thursday, April 19

Preparation # 2:  Please post or comment some kind response to the “digital” part of this assignment (i.e. What are you thinking about in terms of the digital essay? What questions do you have?). I’d suggest that you make use of our blog more and more as we near the close of the semester. Any questions or problems you have, your colleagues will probably have as well! Help each other!

Due: Please post to the blog no later than Monday, April 23, by 12PM.

**Continue to post ideas and questions as your projects develop!!**

Preparation # 3: Reflective Annotated Bibliography for 2 Sources

A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used or is considering using in order to research a specific topic.

An annotation is a summary or evaluation.

Therefore, your annotated bibliography must include the following:

  1. Complete bibliographic information about each source (cited correctly following MLA format).
  2. A summary of the source. (What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say?)
  3. Your thoughts on the source. (Did you find this reference to be helpful? What intrigued you about it? Will you use it? If so, what information will you continue to think about?)


  1. All annotated bibliographies should be typed, single-spaced.
  2. Bibliographic information should follow MLA format (see Please bold the bibliographic information as well.
  3. Your summary of the source should be no longer than two paragraphs.
  4. Please italicize your thoughts (or response) on the source. This segment of the bibliography should be no longer than one full paragraph.


Kozol, Jonathan. “The Human Cost of an Illiterate  Society.” Lead, Follow, or Move Out of the Way! Eds. Monique Ferrell and Julian Williams. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2006. 562-569. Print.

Jonathan Kozol begins his essay by clarifying that “the number of illiterate adults exceeds by 16 million the entire vote cast for the winner in the 1980 presidential contest” (562). He then goes on to share a personal dream he has about what it must be like to be illiterate. This portrait of illiteracy is then followed up by a litany of illiteracies, delineated in a list that repeats the following format: “illiterates cannot…”  The essay then continues to go into more and more detail with each example of the seemingly normal daily routines that illiterates cannot partake in. Finally, Kozol arrives at the idea that, “this is the nation that we live in. This is a society that most of us did not create but which our President and other leaders have been willing to sustain by virtue of malign neglect” (569). The collage of quotes and statements of the effects of illiteracy build tension until they reach this final moment of awareness of the governing responsibilities of the state.

I am slightly confused by Kozol’s essay because it seems as though he is blaming the government entirely for illiteracy. Doesn’t some of the responsibility fall on the individual? I think that this piece is certainly quite powerful, Kozol uses details and quotes so well—I almost feel as though I am witnessing the moments of not knowing and dismay that he describes. I think that this essay might be useful to me in considering an individual’s responsibility over his or her own life situations and life choices. Could I use Kozol to help me to devise a counterargument?

DUE: Thursday, April 26

Rough Draft #3 Cover Letter

For Rough Draft #3, please write a letter, addressed to your readers, in which you answer the following questions and address any other concerns that you have.  Think of your draft letter as an opportunity to request exactly the kind of feedback you need.  All cover letters should be typed and about one page long.

  • What are the biggest problems you are having at this point in the writing process?
  • What’s the number one question about your essay—its thesis, structure, use of evidence, persuasiveness, style, etc.—that you’d like your readers to answer for you?
  • What do you envision your final step towards revision for the Final Draft to look like?

Due:  Tuesday, May 1 (5-7 pages, bring 3 copies to class)

Final Draft #3

Please bring in your final draft (5-7 pages with a Works Cited page).  It must be stapled with your final draft cover letter attached to the front.  Also, please include your previous drafts and cover letters.  Submit the entire packet bound with a paperclip.

Paper # 3–Final Draft Cover Letter

For your Paper #3 Final Draft, please write a letter, addressed to your readers, in which you answer the following questions and address any other concerns that you have.  Think of your draft letter as an opportunity to share how you feel you have improved your paper.  All cover letters should be typed and about one page long.

  • What is your thesis?  What are you hoping to achieve in this paper?
  • What are some problems you faced when writing and how did you try to or succeed in resolving them?
  • What idea or point do you feel you’ve made the most successfully?  Least successfully?
  • Do you consider this draft to really be your “Final Draft?”  Why? Did you do anything while revising that could be described as a “re-seeing” of the paper?
  • What grade do you think you deserve on this paper and why?
  • How do you imagine this paper connects to and enhances your digital essay?

Due: Thursday, May 10, 2012 (5-7 pages with a Works Cited page)


Digital Essay Assignment: For the final paper of this semester, I would like for you to select one poem to investigate at great length. Your paper will take the form of an extended critical close reading. In order to further explore the visual and auditory possibilities a poem holds, you will also be composing a “digital essay” on the same piece.

What is a “digital essay”?

A digital essay (in the context of this course) is a piece of work that uses audio, video, text, and/or images. Your goal for this project should be to create a short film that essentially illustrates the thesis of your paper visually. Your digital essay should be short…no more than two to four minutes long.

How do I do this? I don’t have a camera! I don’t have the right software!

Video Cameras: You may borrow a Hitachi camcorder from the Newman Library. All you need to do is go to the Circulation Desk on the 2nd Floor and request one. You are permitted to borrow it for three days, with the possibility of renewal.

Production Information:

  1. As you know, a movie is a short video or film that includes actors and has some semblance of a narrative or plot. To do this successfully you might want to ask some friends to help you out and draft a “script” or choreograph what will happen when and where.
  2. Select the tools you will you use create, edit, and share your project. We will review these tools in class. The tools that are available are all free and user friendly, so do not worry if this is your first digital project!
  3. I would encourage you to do this project in small groups (no more than 3 people per group). This does not mean that your final papers have to be on the same poem, but rather that you are interested in a similar argument or idea.
  4. You will post your “digital essay” on our blog. I suggest that you do this by creating a youtube account (if you don’t already have one) and then embed the video on our site.
  5. Make sure that you use the “digital essay” category when posting your video.

Project Proposal due—post to the blog no later than Monday, April 23.


This means that all projects must be posted to the blog before class meets that morning!


A few examples of digital projects from past classes:

“Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant”

“Mistaken Identity”

“We Real Cool”

“I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”

“The Barbie Complex”


“Everest Dream”