M A I N * L I N K S


SUNY Fredonia
Division of Arts and Humanities
ENGL 216: Science Fiction
Spring 2008
TTh 2-3:20 pm
Houghton 101
Office: Fenton 265; TTh 3:30-4:30, W 9-12, F 1-4:30, and by appointment; 673-3856
E-mail: simon@fredonia.edu (work days); brucesimon18@yahoo.com (other)
Web Page: www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/
Course ANGEL Space: https://fredonia.sln.suny.edu




Critical Essays, Spring 2008

This page takes on two important questions about the critical essay you will write this semester in this course: what and what for; it also includes links to the specific assignment sheet for each assignment. My goal is to make this page as useful to you as possible, so let me know if it can be improved. If anything is badly worded, unclear, or missing, please contact me with constructive criticisms and suggestions. Ditto for any questions you may have about any of the options listed below or on the assignment sheets. Thanks.

What

Your critical essays are to be a thesis-driven, analytical, and persuasive four-to-six-page paper. That is, they should not be simply a personal response to what you have read, or simply a statement of your opinions or assertion of your views, but should instead be organized to convince your readers to accept an argument you have developed in response to a specific question. In short, you are being asked to generate an original, creative argument that supports your own perspective on the text or texts you've chosen to write on and seeks to persuade your intended audience(s) of its validity, significance, and stakes.

What For

Over the course of the semester you'll have done a good deal of informal writing--ranging from the free writing on specific topics in class to your course ANGEL space discussion board posts to perhaps even your posts on the course blog. You'll have gotten good practice at noticing things about literary texts and asking questions of them; we'll have focused a lot in class on making connections between texts and identifying tensions within and between them, interpreting significant passages and image patterns, and considering various answers to questions that you all have posed as well as I. What this assignment gives you the chance to do is develop a sustained argument on a specific topic. The critical essay allows you to focus in on a particular topic or question that most interests you (this involves reviewing your notes and memories of the readings, as well as discussion board postings), to delve more deeply into specific readings (this involves choosing the readings that best allow you to address the topic or question you have chosen and focusing on those parts that seem most relevant to the topic), and to develop and support a sustained argument about the relation between the readings and the topic or question (this involves both critically analyzing the texts you have chosen to focus on and crafting a valid, persuasive argument).

The other major purpose of the critical essays is for me to indicate clearly what I see as the major questions or issues raised by each of the units in the course. These should provide you with something of a framework for understanding and reviewing each unit as a whole. Hence, it is highly recommended that you consider carefully each of the options given before settling on one on which to focus your critical essay. It's easy to miss the forest for the trees, especially when there were so many different "trees" we were analyzing each day, so seeing the range of questions I think are most important to consider when looking back on the unit can give you a new, better perspective on what we've read, as well as lay out possible directions for the final research project.

Critical Essay #1: Significant Distortions of the Present

Due: no later than 11 pm on Monday, April 7, 2008, in the dropbox in the Lessons Area of the course ANGEL space.

Format: 4-6 pages, double spaced, with reasonable fonts, font sizes, and margins (be warned that barely getting on to the fourth sheet of paper does not a four-page paper make!); title that indicates main argument of paper; heading that includes your name, the course name or number, and the date; format, bibliography, and citations in MLA style (see the links page for explanations and examples of MLA style; the basic template is Author. "Title of Poem, or Essay, or Story." Title of Book from which It Comes. Editor of Book (if any), ed. Place of Publication: Publisher, Date of Publication. Page Numbers.); proper quotation format in body of paper: "..." (McHugh 18). for quotations within a paragraph; blockquote format for quotations five lines or longer.

Criteria for Evaluation: Your grade for this critical essay will be determined by the coherence and validity of your paper's arguments, the effectiveness of their structures in conveying your ideas and convincing your audience, and the quality of their prose (including grammar, syntax, and punctuation).

Audience: In general, think of your immediate audience as those who have taken and are taking this class; hence, you can assume that your readers have read the texts you're writing on and you don't have to include the kind of background that someone not taking this course would need.

Draft Policy: I would be happy to offer brief comments on your drafts, so long as you get me them by April 4.

Rewrite Policy: You may rewrite this paper in order to replace its grade.

Options: Here are your options for the first critical essay:


Critical Essay #2: Histories of the Future

Due: no later than 11 pm on Monday, May 12, 2008, in the dropbox in the Lessons Area of the course ANGEL space.

Format: 4-6 pages, double spaced, with reasonable fonts, font sizes, and margins (be warned that barely getting on to the fourth sheet of paper does not a four-page paper make!); title that indicates main argument of paper; heading that includes your name, the course name or number, and the date; format, bibliography, and citations in MLA style (see the links page for explanations and examples of MLA style; the basic template is Author. "Title of Poem, or Essay, or Story." Title of Book from which It Comes. Editor of Book (if any), ed. Place of Publication: Publisher, Date of Publication. Page Numbers.); proper quotation format in body of paper: "..." (Simmons 18). for quotations within a paragraph; blockquote format for quotations five lines or longer.

Criteria for Evaluation: Your grade for this critical essay will be determined by the coherence and validity of your paper's arguments, the effectiveness of their structures in conveying your ideas and convincing your audience, and the quality of their prose (including grammar, syntax, and punctuation).

Audience: In general, think of your immediate audience as those who have taken and are taking this class; hence, you can assume that your readers have read the texts you're writing on and you don't have to include the kind of background that someone not taking this course would need.

Draft Policy: I would be happy to offer brief comments on your drafts, so long as you get me them by May 9.

Rewrite Policy: There is no revision option for the second critical essay.

Options: Here are your options for the second critical essay:




M A I N * L I N K S


ENGL 216: Science Fiction, Spring 2008
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia
Created: 2/28/08 8:16 am
Last modified: 2/28/08 8:16 am
Feel free to explore the Spring 2005 version of this course.