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ENGLISH 271
Fall 2014
 
Dr. Sheila Liming
sheila.liming@und.edu
701-777-2782
Office: Merrifield 1B
 
Course Description

reading & writing
about texts

Office hours:
MWF 2:30-4 PM,
and by appointment

This is an Essential Studies course and will count towards both your Humanities and your
Advanced Communication requirements. Essential Studies courses are designed to help
students develop skills that have been identified as particularly important for professional,
private, and civic life in the twenty-first century. Such skills include: being able to think and
reason well, to communicate effectively, to judge the credibility of information, and to engage
with diversity in complex and thoughtful ways. As an Advanced Communication (A) course, this
class is additionally designed to help students build upon and enhance their writing skills through
particular focuses on argumentation, audience, purpose, and rhetorical efficacy. We will pay
special attention to the way that intellectual questions are framed and articulated in English
Studies.
This course, the first part of our introduction to the English major, serves to prepare you for
upper-level courses in English Studies by training you in the close reading of texts. “Close
reading” reading acknowledges that we all come away from texts with immediate, emotional
responses, but it requires us to move beyond those responses as a means of assessing and
identifying the specific, intellectual choices writers make that contribute to, or inspire, such
reactions. This course will require you to interact with text very closely – more closely, perhaps,
than you have been used to in the past – in order to evaluate not only the content of a given text
(what it says), but also its form and rhetorical strategy (or, how it says what it says).
Reading text closely is, however, only half of the story here: in addition to close reading, this
course will also permit you to hone your skills as a “close” writer, and will instruct you in how to
appropriately frame and articulate arguments about literary texts. We will survey a variety of
classic examples of literary text, and will concentrate on constructing strong thesis statements
inspired by our reading, and on developing the stakes of literary arguments. We will also work to
better familiarize ourselves with MLA style – the standard for both citation and formatting in
English Studies – and to plan for and strategically approach writing assignments through
prewriting. We will also work to hone our skills as researchers, applying our “close reading”
skills to the acts of both search and research in order to better understand how to best locate the
answers we seek when we ask questions in the context of academic inquiry.

Course Objectives

To provide students with an introduction to touchstone literary and fictional works.

To familiarize students with the process of reading and writing closely in the immediate context
of such touchstone literary works.

To professionalize and train students for advanced work in literary and linguistic education.

To impart processes of close reading, close writing, and attentive research as preparation for
advanced coursework in literary or communicational study.

To encourage multimodal thinking in both the consumption and construction of written texts, and
to hone students’ skills in both writing and creating textual artifacts.

To establish standards for academic discourse and participation through in-class discussion, peer
evaluation, and collaborative assignments.

Required Texts
[to be purchased]
Mays, Kelly, ed. The Norton Introduction to Literature, 11th Edition. New York: Norton, 2012.
Assignments and Grading
Found Text Analysis Essay [20 pts.]
A 1-2 pp. diagnostic/introductory essay.
Reading Responses [15 pts.]
These are brief, 1-pg. responses, to be completed as homework, which ask you to state a
position about a given reading or text that we have covered that week.
You will be directed to respond to specific aspects of the text (i.e. “conflict,” “setting,”
“tone,” etc.), and should aim to include at least two direct quotations from, or references
to (citations), the text in your response. Your analysis should seek to go beyond the
simplistic, knee-jerk reaction of “I liked it” or “I hated it.” Rather, if you find yourself
leaning towards one of these reactions, try to isolate the aspect of the text with reference
to the directions you have been given that, in your opinion, contributes to your “liking”
or “hating” it, and then assess and analyze that element in particular.
For example, say you really hated Edith Wharton’s story “Roman Fever,” and you are
prompted to discuss the topic of “conflict” in relation to that story. Think about whether
or not your displeasure over Wharton’s story derives from her use of conflict: does the
conflict in question make reading her story uncomfortable? How? Why? Or perhaps the
narrative conflict strikes you as unimportant or implausible – show me evidence for the
unimportance or implausibility by directly referring to the text.

Midterm Essay: an extended close-reading of a single text [100 pts.]
Poetry Translation Assignment: [15 pts.]
Search Terms Assignment: [30 pts.]
Final Essay: an extended close-reading of a single text or adapted text [100 pts.]
[See Assignment Sheets, included at the end of this syllabus, for instructions related to the
Midterm and Final assignments/projects.]
Course Participation [approx. 50 pts., or 15% of your total grade]
Course Policies and Procedures
Attendance
Since this is a small discussion class, attendance is mandatory. You are allowed four absences
without penalty— following your fifth absence, your grade in the class will begin to drop by a
half-a-letter grade per absence (5% of your total grade). Plan ahead if you think you might miss
class for religious holidays or for other scheduled events. I do not distinguish between excused
and unexcused absences. You are allowed four absences – be they excused or unexcused –
before your grade begins to decrease, unless other special arrangements have been made with
me ahead of time.
If you have extenuating circumstances significantly affecting your attendance throughout the
semester (such as an illness or a family emergency), it is your responsibility to notify me about
your situation and obtain authoritative documentation to excuse your absences (either from a
Dean or from your advisor). If you miss more than the allotted days due to your situation, we
will discuss whether it’s prudent for you to continue in the course.
If you miss class, you are responsible to contact your peers for materials and information you’ve
missed. Do not email me asking whether or not there was a daily assignment. Missing a class is
no excuse for not completing the homework. Likewise, I expect you to have read the assigned
readings and to be ready to discuss them, even if you were absent from class the day before.
Finally, you are responsible for keeping track of your own absences. A sign-in sheet will be used
to record and verify daily attendance. You may check in with me at any time to confirm the
numbers of absences you have accrued in the course.
Late Arrival
Arrive on time. You will not receive an A in this class if you do not arrive on time. Lateness not
only disrupts the class but also demonstrates disrespect for your peers and for your instructor.
For every two days you are late to class, you will be marked for one absence. If you are more
than 15 minutes late to class, you will be marked absent for that day.

Class Participation
Since this is a discussion course, it’s important that you participate in class. Participation, which
includes both classroom involvement and physically being in class, makes up roughly 15% of
your total grade. While your class participation grade falls to my discretion, there are several
steps you can take to ensure you achieve a satisfactory grade:

Come to class prepared, with a hard (physical) copy of the required reading.
Since laptop use is prohibited in class, it is essential that you print out and bring a
copy of the required reading to class every day (or, in the case of the Crow text,
bring that to class). Failure to do so will result in the loss participation
points; additionally, failure to do so may affect any in-class writing assignments,
quizzes, or exercises that require the text in question.

Be prepared to participate; plan to participate. You should anticipate contributing
to course discussions on a regular basis. This means that you must both be
prepared (having done the required assignment or reading) and must formulate
and offer contributions to the discussion on a regular basis (at least once a
week).

Be courteous toward your peers. When you raise disagreement in class – either
with the instructor or with your peers – try to do so respectfully. Articulate your
reasons and grounds for disagreement and direct them towards an idea, rather
than a person. Failure to show adequate respect towards your peers or towards
your instructor may result in your being asked to leave the classroom. Such a
request will, in turn, affect my assessment of your class participation, and
possibly your attendance record as well.

Scholastic Honesty, Plagiarism, and Cheating
At the University of North Dakota, we believe in the excellence of our students and in the
integrity of our academic programs. We also believe that your good ideas become better when
you test them against the ideas of others. So for this course, feel free to discuss your ideas about
the major writing assignments with other students. Collaborating on question/answer homework
assignments or open-book quizzes, however, is not acceptable; these types of assignments are
designed for me, your instructor, to monitor how you are handling specific parts of the course
material. Blatantly taking someone else’s words, ideas or concepts, and using them without
citing your source is plagiarism. So is using another student’s essay, or part of his or her essay,
as your own. In the world of writing (academic writing especially), this is a serious crime, and is
treated as such. Anyone who uses non-documented material from another source, including
online sources, will receive a failing grade for the entire course and will be referred to university
administrators for possible further disciplinary action.
These policies are concurrent with the University of North Dakota’s policies regarding scholastic
honesty. For more information about these policies, please refer to the “Scholastic Honesty”
section of the Undergraduate Academic Information materials available online at und.edu.

All final versions of essay assignments will be submitted to Blackboard, which runs digital
comparisons of submitted assignments in order to identify possible cases of plagiarism. For this
reason, you must submit final versions of papers to Blackboard. You may additionally submit
versions of your assignment through other electronic means (via email, for instance), but if you
fail to submit your paper to Blackboard, it will be treated as late, and lateness penalties will
apply.
In this course, we will talk about the differences between plagiarism and the misuse of sources. If
you have any questions regarding the appropriate use of source material (readings, critical
opinions, or supplemental research), please feel free to ask me. In my experience, those students
who plagiarize are also those who feel overwhelmed by the assignment and thus compelled to
use someone else’s work as their own. If you get so frustrated with an assignment that you feel
like your only option is to plagiarize, come see me. My role as a teacher is to help students, not
to punish them— please use me as a resource to help you write, brainstorm, or work out
assignments and essays.
General Guidelines for Submitting Assignments
All papers submitted in this class – including short, type-written homework responses (“Position
Papers”) – must comply with Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines and citation
rules. This means that you must provide MLA compliant documentation for the use of additional
sources, including:

a Works Cited page, providing correct bibliographic information for each source
cited, quoted, or consulted in your paper

correct in-text citations for each source cited, quoted, or consulted in your paper

If you are unsure of MLA guidelines, I suggest you either consult or purchase a current
MLA Style Guide, or consult the following online source:
The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University
website à http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
 
In addition to proper citation,

All papers, including short response assignments, must be typed, double-spaced, with 1”
margins.

All papers completed as homework – including “Position Papers” – must be
digitally submitted via Blackboard, unless otherwise specified.

Include page numbers on all assignments longer than one page.

Carefully edit and proofread all texts to eliminate problems in grammar, spelling, and
punctuation.

Digital copies of all final papers must be cleanly edited and readable. This means that
you must remove all digital comments/suggestions, including highlighted or underlined
text, and including all comment balloons.

Spell-check your documents.

Documents that do not meet these and other assignment-specific requirements will not be
graded. They will be returned to you and, when resubmitted, will be treated as late
submissions.
Deadlines
All written assignments must be submitted on the due date, and missing the class when the
assignment is due doesn’t mean your assignment isn’t late. Turning in an assignment on time is
part of doing the assignment, and late work will be penalized, regardless of how well it’s
executed.
Lateness penalties are as follows:
• Papers and assignments. For every day – that is, every day of the week, and not every
class period – that a paper or homework assignment is due, your final draft will lose two
points.

Midterm and final papers/projects. For every day that a midterm or final paper/project is
late, you will lose five points.

Daily assignments. All late assignments may receive a maximum of half-credit (50%),
regardless of how late they are.

Cell Phones, Laptops, etc.
Students are expected to participate and be engaged in class discussion. Therefore, students are
required to silence or turn off cell phones before coming to class (there is, quite obviously, to be
no text messaging during class). All laptops must remain closed unless you have made prior
arrangements with me and have demonstrated that using a laptop is necessary for your learning.
Campus Resources
Learning Disabilities
If you have a learning disability that could impair your progress in this course, please contact
Disability Services. Students are encouraged to register through Disability Services in order to
receive recommendations for learning accommodations.
Disability Services
http://und.edu/disability-services/
McCannel Hall Room 190

We can arrange to accommodate your learning style based on DS recommendations. Please
notify me at the start of the semester if you have specific needs, or if Disability Services has
provided you with a Verification of Needs for Disability Accommodations.
Writing Help
All students are encouraged to take advantage of UND’s Writing Center to receive help in
preparing writing assignments.
To make an appointment or speak with a tutor, visit their website, or the visit the Writing Center
itself.
UND Writing Center
http://und.edu/academics/writing-center/
Merrifield Hall Room 12
Communications
You can reach me via email, office phone, or a note in my mailbox in Merrifield Hall. The best
way to reach me, of course, is through email – I check it frequently and, while I cannot guarantee
an immediate reply, it is certainly the fastest way to get in touch.
If you have questions about the policies of this class, review the syllabus first, and then make
an appointment to speak with me.

Course Schedule
Wednesday, August 27

Course introduction; review syllabus

Friday, August 29

DUE: “Reading, Writing, Responding” (NIL 12-19)
Introduce Found Text Analysis assignment

Monday, September 1

NO CLASS: Enjoy your Labor Day!

Wednesday, September 3

DUE: Found Text Analysis assignment
[See Assignment Sheet for detailed instructions.]
Discuss / share analyses in class

Friday, September 5

DUE: “Telling Stories” (NIL p. 53) and Alexie, “Flight
Patterns” (NIL pp. 54-67)

Monday, September 8

DUE: “Plot” (NIL pp. 82-89) and Baldwin, “Sonny’s
Blues” (NIL pp. 95-118)

Wednesday, September 10

DUE: Wharton, “Roman Fever” (NIL pp. 118-131)

Friday, September 12

DUE: Updike, “A&P” (NIL pp. 155-160)
and Reading Response 1: Conflict
Instructions: Choose one of the stories we have read for
this week, and respond to its author’s use of conflict. From
where does the conflict derive? What are the stakes of the
conflict? How does the conflict contribute to the plot? How
does it get resolved? How does the importance of the
conflict, and its resolution, affect your response to (your
“liking” or “not liking”) the story?

Monday, September 15

DUE: “Character” (NIL 181-188) and Faulkner, “Barn
Burning” (NIL 188-201)

Wednesday, September 17

DUE: Morrison, “Recitatif” (NIL 201-215)

Friday, September 19

DUE: Wallace, “Good People” (NIL 216-221) and
Atwood, “Lusus Naturae” (NIL 232-237)

Monday, September 22

DUE: “Setting” (NIL 253-255); Calvino, from “Invisible
Cities” (NIL 255) and Mitchell, from Gone with the Wind
(NIL 255-257)

Wednesday, September 24

DUE: Chekhov, The Lady with the Dog (NIL 259-271) and
Matview, “The Importance of Good Setting” (NIL 289-290)

Friday, September 26

DUE: Tan, “A Pair of Tickets” (NIL 271-285)
and Reading Response 2: Setting
Instructions: Choose one of the stories/excerpts we have
read this week, and respond to the author’s use of setting.
How important is the setting to the overall plot? How does
it contribute to the central conflict? How does it affect the
characters’ actions, thoughts, or words?

Monday, September 29

DUE: “Symbol” (NIL 335-340)
In-class exercise in reading symbols

Wednesday, October 1

DUE: Hawthorne, “The Birth-Mark” (NIL 340)

Friday, October 3

DUE: Byatt, “The Thing in the Forest” (NIL 352)

Monday, October 6

DUE: “Theme” (NIL 384) and Aesop, “The Two Crabs”
(NIL 384-388)

Wednesday, October 8

DUE: Marquez, “A Very Old Man” (NIL 406-411)

Friday, October 10

DUE: Saidi, “The Nightmare” (NIL 465-470) and Sedaris,
“Jesus Shaves” (NIL 471-473)
Introduce Midterm Essay Assignment

Monday, October 13

DUE: Midterm Essay Prewriting
Instructions: Choose one of the stories we have read so far
this semester – this story will become the focus of your
Midterm Essay, which will require you to close-read a
single work in the context of a longer essay.
For this assignment, in which you will prepare to write that
longer essay, submit a 1-2 pp. rough outline which attaches
specific textual references (citations and direct quotations)
to specific textual elements that we have reviewed so far
this semester. This may end up looking like an informal list
where you attach a variety of direct quotations to headings
like “Plot” and “Character.” Your aim, in this exercise, is to
figure out where you ought to focus your analysis in your
paper: if, for example, you find a lot to discuss under the
topic of “Character,” but very little to discuss with
reference to “Setting,” then you might think about focusing
your essay on the subject of character development.

Wednesday, October 15

In-class: “best” and “worst” exercise

Friday, October 17

DUE: Midterm Essay
[See assignment sheet for detailed instructions.]

Monday, October 20

DUE: “Author’s Work as Context: Flannery O’Connor”
(NIL 540) and O’Connor, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
(NIL 543-554)

Wednesday, October 22

DUE: O’Connor, “Good Country People” and “Everything
That Rises Must Converge” (NIL 554-568) and “Passages
from Flannery O’Connor’s Essays and Letters” (NIL 579582)

Friday, October 24

DUE: Reuman, “Revolting Fictions” and Pollack,
“Flannery O’Connor and the New Criticism” (NIL 585590)

Monday, October 27

DUE: Reading Response 3: Context
This week, we are reading two stories by the writer
Ambrose Bierce. Bierce is a mysterious figure: he was
well-published in his day, but is little-read now, and he
disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1913.
For this response, I want you to do some contextual
research to supplement our reading of Bierce. Go online,
snoop around a little, and see what you can dig up; follow
links, revise your search terms, and see if you can come to
a critical consensus about who Bierce was and what
happened to him. Your response paper should give me an
overview of what you discovered in your research, and
should cite textual sources appropriately.

Wednesday, October 29

DUE: Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

Friday, October 31
Halloween

DUE: Bierce, “The Death of Halpin Frayser”
[on Blackboard]

Monday, November 3

DUE: “Poetry: Reading, Responding, Writing;
Davis “Head, Heart”; Collins, “Authors …”; “Poetic
Subgenres and Kinds”; Robinson, “Richard Cory” (NIL
846-851)

Wednesday, November 5

DUE: Behn, “On Her Loving Two Equally” and
accompanying interpretation / sample writing (NIL 860873)

Friday, November 7

CLASS CANCELED
DUE: Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress” [BB] and Poetry
Translation Assignment
After reading Behn’s “On Her Loving Two Equally,” we
read through some sample criticism and interpretation, in
which we saw Behn’s poetry translated into modern prose.
Your assignment here is to do precisely the same with
Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.”
Log on to Blackboard, and under “Assignments” for this
course [“Course Content”à”Assignments”], you will find
Marvell’s poem provided in a .doc file. Text boxes
provided in the .doc will allow you to fill in the blank and
“translate” Marvell’s poem line-by-line: simply click on the
box on the right-hand side of the page, and add your
translations next to each numbered line.
Be sure to add your name to the file label, and submit your
finished translation to Blackboard by 5 PM.

Monday, November 10

NO CLASS – Veterans’ Day

Wednesday, November 12

Review Marvell translations in-class, compare to
contemporary examples of the same genre

Friday, November 14

DUE: “The Art of Reading Poetry: An Album” (all of it:
NIL 875-883)

Monday, November 17

DUE: “Understanding the Text” and Kennedy, “In a
Prominent Bar in Secaucus One Day” (NIL 884-886); “The
Lyric and Its Speaker” and Atwood, “Death of a Young
Son by Drowning” (NIL 889-890)

Wednesday, November 20

DUE: “Exploring Gender: An Album” (all of it: NIL 903914)

Friday, November 22

In-class: discuss allusive poetry; introduce Search Terms
Assignment

Monday, November 24

DUE: Search Terms Assignment
[See Assignment Sheet for detailed instructions.]
Discuss search results in groups

November 26/28

NO CLASS – enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Monday, December 1

DUE: A Streetcar Named Desire (all of it: NIL 1815-1881)
Discuss reading drama closely

Tuesday, December 2

SCREEN: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
4-6 PM: Merrifield 114

Wednesday, December 3

Discuss film adaptation of Streetcar

Friday, December 5

In-class: screen The Simpsons, “A Streetcar Named Marge”
(1992)

Monday, December 8

Discuss Simpsons adaptation of Streetcar; introduce final
paper

Wednesday, December 10

Last day of class: evaluations and semester review

Friday, December 12

NO CLASS – Reading Day

Wednesday, December 17

DUE: Final Paper, submitted to Blackboard by 5 PM
[See assignment sheet for detailed instructions.]

Assignment Instructions: Found Text Analysis

[20 pts.]

Whether we realize it or not, we read and interpret text on a daily basis and, often, are
additionally required to close read – that is, to interpret, analyze, and maybe even translate –
such texts. Sometimes, close reading is required when we cannot immediately make sense of a
text: perhaps it is unclearly written or communicated (like instructions in an IKEA manual),
perhaps it is intentionally vague (like a non-committal text message from a friend), or perhaps it
deploys multiple forms of textual communication (pictures, graphics, sounds, and written words
– like a television advertisement) simultaneously in a way that forces us to parse through each of
these elements in order to grasp the overall meaning.
Your assignment here is to prepare a 1-2 pp. paper that “closely reads,” or interprets and
analyzes, two pieces of found text.
Remember that a text is anything that can be read, and this includes pictures, graphics, spoken
words, moving images, and, of course, written words as well. In your paper, you should describe
two instances in which you were recently forced to close read or interpret two separate pieces of
text, but one of these texts should be non-written (that is, more than just words on a page). You
should describe how you went about analyzing or interpreting the two texts in question,
explaining any necessary details, like context. Think about responding to some of the following
questions:
- What kinds of prior knowledge or experience were necessary in order to interpret or
“read” this text?
- What made reading or interpreting this text difficult?
- What ultimate “meaning” did you arrive at in interpreting these two pieces of texts?
- What other interpretations or “meanings” might be possible?
Examples of written, found text:
- a passage in a book
- a print-based advertisement (like in a newspaper, magazine, on a billboard, etc.)
- a text message
- an email
- a Facebook or Twitter message / comment / tweet
Examples of non-written, found text:
- an advertisement or commercial (on the radio or television)
- a song (paying attention to not just the written lyrics, but the music itself, too)
- a pictorial advertisement (a billboard, magazine ad, Internet ad, etc.)
- someone else’s body language, or facial expressions
- something someone said, but which you did not have access to in writing

Assignment Instructions: Midterm Essay Assignment

[100 pts.]

Throughout the semester, we will be practicing and honing processes of close reading and close
writing alike. This assignment asks you to flex those skills in a longer, more thorough context.
Prepare a 4-6 pp. paper that responds to and interprets one story or excerpt that we’ve read this
semester.
You should begin by reviewing and considering the textual elements we’ve discussed so far this
semester, including Plot, Character, Setting, Symbol, and Theme. With respect to the story
you’ve chosen to focus on in this essay, though, you should aim to select and focus on one (or,
possibly, two) of these textual elements, rather than accounting for all of them.
Throughout your analysis, pay attention to what you are saying, and to the argumentative moves
that you make in order to lend justification to what you say. Be self-reflexive: if you choose to
focus on plot and conflict, say, in a particular story, don’t just tell me what happens in the text,
show me – via direct reference – how it happens, and why it matters. Extend your thinking
beyond the immediate action of the text, and consider the repercussions and consequences of its
narrative “action.”

Assignment Instructions: Search Terms Assignment

[30 pts.]

Instructions: In class, you will be assigned a phrase, adage, or quotation, and it is your
assignment to research the history and uses of this phrase/quotation. You research should yield
results about who is responsible for having authored or said the quotation, when they authored it,
the quotation’s original context (the work or publication where it originally appeared), and who
has said it, changed it, quoted it, or referred to it famously since then. Often these results will be
conflicting, though: Internet search engines are designed to offer the most algorithmically
popular results, but not necessarily the most correct or accurate ones.
The aim of this assignment is to get you to think carefully about the words and phrases you use
in order to produce the results you want from a given search engine. For this reason, you must
keep track of your own search process by submitting screen shots for each phrase you enter
into a search bar, while also recording notes on the results of your search.
A screen shot is a picture (.jpg) taken of a computer screen:

on a Mac, you can take a screen shot by pressing COMMAND + SHIFT + 4
simultaneously, which will produce crosshairs allowing you to select the size of your
screen shot. Hold down the mouse and use the crosshairs to select your screen shot; once
you let go of the mouse, it will automatically save to your desktop.

on a PC, you can take a screen shot, by pressing the “PrntScrn,” “PrtScrn” or “Print
Screen” button on a desktop keyboard (usually located the “F12” and “Scroll Lock”
buttons). You will not receive confirmation of having taken the screen shot, but it will be
saved to your computer’s clipboard: open Microsoft Word and Paste (Ctrl+V) the
screenshot into the document. Alternatively, you can open Microsoft Paint (under “Start”
and “Accessories” à Paint) and use the same commands (Ctrl+V) to paste the screenshot
in a Paint file; if you do this, be sure to save the file as a .jpg, so that you can transfer it to
a Word document later.

Taking screenshots on either a Mac or PC is sometimes dependent upon available
keyboard functions. If you have difficulty accomplishing screenshots, I’d suggest doing a
quick Google search to find out how to take a screenshot using your particular
computer/software.

What Your Completed Assignment Should Look Like:
Your completed Search Terms Assignment should combine notes on your completed research
with screenshots displaying the search terms that lead you to these results, combined in a
Microsoft Word document. It should read as a series of screenshots (pictures) with notes on
what each individual search revealed.
For example, say you are assigned “The Gilded Age” as the phrase you must research. You type
it into Google, and you get a result that looks like this:

Your first several results explain that “The Gilded Age” refers to a time period in American
history beginning just after The Civil War. But they also indicate (as do your suggestions from
the drop-down menu when you typed in “The Gilded Age”) that Mark Twain might be
responsible for this phrase. Thus, you refine your results like this:

This time, you are lead first to a Wikipedia entry explaining that The Gilded Age is the title of a
novel by Mark Twain, but it seems he did not invent this phrase. The Wikipedia article reveals
that, in fact, Mark Twain got the phrase from Shakespeare, in the original form of this quotation:
“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... is wasteful and ridiculous excess."
Thus, you now refine your search terms for a third time in order to hunt down the original
context of this quotation, and they look like this:

This third search reveals the original context of Shakespeare’s quotation (in Act IV Scene II of
King John), but also turns up a closely associated phrase, “gild the lily.” Gild the lily, it turns
out, is a common misquotation from Shakespeare’s original line, and is the concept Twain had
in mind when he helped to coin the term “The Gilded Age.” So, it turns out, “The Gilded Age” is
a term born from a botched Shakespearean reference that has proliferated in American culture for
the past 130 years. (Shakespeare, in King John, refers to “painting the lily,” but not to gilding
it.)

Assignment Instructions: Final Paper

[100 pts.]

Over the course of the semester, you have learned to work closely with a range of textual
materials. We’ve close-read short stories and poems, and applied the skills of close-reading to
the writing process and to the construction of precise methods of inquiry.
For this final paper, you are assigned to construct a final, full-length reading based on one of the
versions of A Streetcar Named Desire that we reviewed in the last two weeks of class. You may
choose to focus on either:


the play version of A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan
or, The Simpsons television parody, “A Streetcar Named Marge”

Keep in mind, though, that this paper is meant to be an analytic reading, not a comparison –
that is to say, you should concentrate on producing an argumentative, careful reading of your
chosen text, rather than a comparison between it and another version of Streetcar. If, however,
you are working primarily with either the film or television version of the text, you may find it
necessary to discuss changes that it makes to the original dramatic action of the play. Think
about the choices that writers make in reinventing a narrative and focus on finding out why, or
how, those changes might be important to the new, adapted narrative you’re working with in
your paper.
Also, keep in mind that context is important to the understanding of all three of these cultural
artifacts. If you’re working with Williams’ original text, you should be asking – and answering –
contextual questions, like:
What is the cultural or political climate that surrounds this text?
How is the setting important to the dramatic action?
How does Tennessee Williams’ biography influence our understanding of it?
If you’re working with the movie version, you may want to ask questions like:
How do preconceived cultural expectations affect our responses to a movie like
this?
How do the actors and their reputations influence the way the story gets told, or
the way it is received by the audience?
What role does the director play in re-shaping this story?
If you’re working with The Simpsons version, you might want to ask questions like:
How does humor work in this parodic version of Streetcar? Why is it funny?
What kinds of background knowledge/experience with The Simpsons do we
need in order to understand the humor being presented here?
How do the characters in The Simpsons “become” the characters in Streetcar?
Your paper should be 5-8 pages in length, and should draw heavily from direct references to the
text(s).