This course is designed to provide you with an environment in which you can 1) actively and critically read, analyze, and interpret diverse works of literature and 2) begin to understand and practice diverse ways of responding to those literary texts. One of the main ways you’ll show and be assessed on how you’re moving through this course environment and engaging with the texts you read is through a midterm composition. This will consist of a longer text–critical, creative, or performance–that you develop using the course methodology as discussed during the Introduction Unit.

Assignment Deadline

Midnight, October 19.

Assignment Description

One objective of this course is to give you experience with the diverse ways there are to write about and in response to literature. Such writing runs on a continuum from informal to formal responses. Your annotations and notes are on the informal end of the scale, while your midterm composition and your book review will be on the formal end. This composition should be at least 500 words long and can take one of the following forms: a critical text, a creative text, and/or a performance text (see below for explanations). You can choose which forms you would like to use

  • The critical text could be (but need not be limited to) any of the following:  
    • A critical or interpretive analysis of one of the course readings, in which you analyze a component or components of the text (e.g., theme, plot, character, tone, imagery, etc.) and show how those components and their interactions contribute to and/or expand your understanding of the text.
    • An interpretive argument, in which you make a claim about a literary text or literary texts or assert a particular interpretation of a text or texts and support that claim or interpretation with specific evidence drawn from the text(s). 
    • A compare/contrast essay, in which you compare and/or contrast the form and/or content (e.g., theme, plot, character, tone, imagery, etc.) of at least two literary texts. 
  • The creative text could be a poem, a personal essay, a short story, a short play, etc. (If you choose to compose a poem, it need not be 500 words long.) Any creative text you submit should be accompanied by a preface of at least 300 words in which you discuss how your text developed in response to the unit readings and/or takes up the unit theme.
  • In the performance text you would perform (i.e., read aloud/orally present) a shorter text (like a poem, a short essay, a brief short story, or a short play) or a portion of longer text. If you choose to submit a performance text, follow these simple steps:
    • Step 1: Read and reread the text and, if needed, do some simple research to familiarize yourself with the narrative’s timing, flow, language, tone, symbolism, characters and their personalities, setting, dialogue, etc.
    • Step 2: Practice presenting the narrative aloud until you’re comfortable enough with the narrative’s language, timing, and flow that you don’t stumble while you’re recording your performance and so it doesn’t sound like you’re simply reading from the text. If you’re game, you could practice reading in front of friends and/or family members and ask them to help you fine tune your performance to make it more compelling.
    • Step 3: Record your performance of the poem using audio or video recording software; begin your performance by stating the title of the poem and the poet’s name so your audience knows what text you’ll be sharing. If you have access to your own software, you’re free to use that; just be sure you save the file in a widely-accessible format (like .mp3). If you don’t have access to your own software, you can use some that’s freely available online, including VocarooRecord MP3, and SoundCloud.

Your performance text should be accompanied by a preface of at least 300 words in which you discuss a) why you chose this particular text to perform and b) how preparing to perform the text–then how performing the text–influenced your understanding of and interaction with the narrative.

Submit your composition by emailing it to me by midnight, October 19. Use this wording in the subject line of your email: “[YourLastName] Midterm Composition.” Easy enough, right?