Signature Assignment

The Signature Assignment addresses all four of the course University prescribed objectives-personal responsibility, critical thinking, communication skills, and social responsibility.

This essay includes the integration of outside sources; it, therefore, requires students to demonstrate personal responsibility as they use the words and ideas of other writers in an accurate and ethical manner. Citing sources properly isn’t just a matter of mechanics. It’s a question of personal responsibility (with real consequences for students) that overlaps with students’ responsibility to the academic community of which they are a part.

The construction of a clearly articulated thesis statement supported by a careful analysis of textual evidence demonstrates critical thinking and communication skills. The development of a well-organized essay that demonstrates the correct use of grammar and other writing mechanics and demonstrates an awareness of the how to appeal convincingly to an audience further addresses the communication objective.

The critical analysis of the way the selected text engages a significant issue of social responsibility addresses the social responsibility outcome.

Specific Requirements

Write a well-organized, effectively developed 4-5 page critical analysis of one of the texts we have read in class. There should also be an additional MLA style formatted Works Cited page.

In your analysis, you should explore how your chosen text reveals a particular issue related to social identity construction (some topics might include the construction of gender, race, or class). 

You should also explore what argument you believe the text is making about the issue and how the argument relates to social and cultural concerns of the age in which the text was written. For example, if you choose to write about masculinity in Dracula, you will need to discuss the argument you believe Stoker is making about masculinity in the 1890s. Likewise, if you choose to discuss class issues in Mrs. D, you will need to discuss the argument you believe Woolf is making about class issues in the 1920s. This method of analysis will also require you to do some research into the time period of your chosen text.  For instance, if you are discussing class distinctions in Mrs. D, you will need to research the class structure in Britain during the 1920s.

These are the pre-approved topics for this assignment:

Hamlet (possible topics):

Genre (Revenge Tragedy)

Political Anxiety (Legitimacy and the Monarchy)

Mental Issues (Indecision of Hamlet, Four Humors)

Frankenstein (possible topics):

Science (Galvanism, Resurrectionist)

Romantic Genre (Gothic Literary Tradition)

Gender Issues (Maternity)

Dracula (possible topics):

Victorian Science versus Supernatural

Race (Blood Legitimacy)

Cultural Decline (Gothic fin-de-siècle)

Masculinity (Effeminate Man)

Mrs. D. (possible topics):

Class Structure

Women’s Rights (The New Woman, Suffrage Movement)

Mental Health (Shell Shock)

If you want to pursue another topic, please email this idea to your instructor for approval.

Topic that is not acceptable: Female gender roles in Dracula. Why? First, this topic is found in the sample essays for this class and, secondly, this topic is already being given a lot of analysis in the discussions.

Don’t forget that you must support your claims with evidence from your chosen text and research.

You must also properly integrate material from two secondary sources into your analysis in a way that gives credit to the authors whose ideas and language you are incorporating. This is not a research paper or a summary of the work of literature, but a paper in which you draw on the selected text and secondary sources to communicate an interpretive argument about your chosen text through the lens of social responsibility. The Library offers a quick, on-line plagiarism tutorial: (Links to an external site.)

Appropriate Secondary Sources

National newspapers (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star Telegram)

Print magazines (e.g., The Atlantic, Harper’s, New Yorker, Time, Newsweek)

Online magazines (e.g., Slate, Salon)

Scholarly articles (e.g., academic articles published in peer-reviewed journals; you can find citations for these articles by using the MLA International Bibliography database, JSTOR, or   Project Muse—all of which library gives you access to online)

Scholarly books or book chapters (it’s a good bet a book is scholarly if it’s published by an academic press, such as  University Press; if you’re not sure, ask your instructor)

Historical documents (e.g., old newspaper articles, letters, speeches, journal entries) from academic databases (see the History subject guide on the library website for ideas)

Students interested in using a source that isn’t listed here, should check with the instructor or academic coach.

Your essay should be a Word document that is double spaced, with 1-inch margins, in 12-pt., Times New Roman (or some other easily readable) font. Follow the MLA’s recommendations for formatting, citation, and style. Here is a direct link to the Library’s excellent guide to MLA format: (Links to an external site.)

You’ll also find more important information on how to use and cite sources as well as MLA format by clicking on the “Student Resources” tab in the course menu.

In addition to the above, your assignment must include the following:

     an essay that is at least 4 pages long, but no more than 5

     integration of two appropriate sources

     a thesis

     a title

     incorporation of evidence (i.e., quotations) from the literary text

     Works Cited page using MLA format

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