The Odyssey

Discuss whether or not Odysseus was his own antagonist (whether he was working against himself).  Were his struggles the result of his own shortcomings or was he the unwilling victim of the gods’ power?  Choose only ONE position to argue (that means not both) and use specific examples from the text.  The paper should be between 750-1500 words and you will turn it in on

Grading Rubric for argumentative essays

You will be graded on 5 main categories for your formal papers and essays.

  1. Argument: You need to present a compelling argument in your paper.  I am looking for original and quality thinking about the topic on which you are writing.  A good paper will use appropriate evidence from the sources to bolster the main points of your argument.  Because this is an argument, some people will disagree with you, but if you successfully use evidence from the sources to back up your analysis your paper will be successful. It is often helpful to acknowledge your understanding of the other side of the argument, but continue to prove with evidence why your argument is correct.
  • Organization:  Your paper should be divided into three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. You will be graded on appropriate and clear organization which lends itself to a coherent argument and easy to follow essay.
    • Introduction:  A good introduction will be like a quick guide to your paper: it will inform the reader of your topic, your argument or thesis, and should ideally make the reader want to read the rest of the paper.  The introduction should introduce your paper specifically; avoid overly broad generalizations, dictionary definitions, and simply stating the obvious (“There are similarities and differences between primary source A and primary source B.”)
      • Thesis statement:  Your introduction should have your thesis statement, which will distill your argument and hint at the evidence you will use in one or two straightforward sentences.  A good thesis statement should be focused enough to cover in your paper, and should be something that not everyone would agree with.  Your job in the rest of the paper is to provide evidence, analysis, and interpretation which will back up the assertion(s) you make in your thesis.
  • Body:  The body of your paper should be organized into several paragraphs that each addresses one main topic.  Some topics might be large enough to demand more than one paragraph.  Since you are making a logical argument based on evidence and analysis, the body of your paper should flow logically from one paragraph to the next with smooth transitions.  The body of your paper should contain most of the evidence from the sources that you use to make your argument..
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should synthesize the information and argument that you have just made in the rest of your paper.  Don’t simply summarize your thoughts; make sure that you describe how your evidence and interpretation have led to your thesis and conclusion. 
  • Evidence: The best way to make a logical argument regarding historical sources is to base that argument in those sources.  Your argument should be based upon the sources themselves; the reader may be able to argue your interpretation of the quotes, but not the fact that you are using the very words the sources author wrote.  You will be graded on using quotes that are appropriate and pertinent to your argument.  Beware! You may feel that the quotes “speak for themselves” but some amount of your own analysis is necessary to explain how the quotes you choose pertain to your argument and thesis. You also need to develop your ideas thoroughly; if the reader is not sure what your point is, or your idea is only half-finished you have not developed your ideas completely.  If you are using any sources for background information, they should be appropriate and should be cited in your paper and works cited page.
  • Clarity: The ability to get your point across in a clear and easy to understand manner is an important factor in writing a great paper.  You might have excellent ideas, analysis, and interpretation and a previously un-thought-of take on a topic, but if you can’t get your thoughts across clearly the reader may never notice your brilliance.  In an academic paper you want to use formal language and tone and avoid slang and colloquial expressions (including most profanity).  Your sentences should be clear and easy to follow on first reading.  Grammar and spelling ARE IMPORTANT!!!  We live in an age with computerized spell-checking and grammar reviews.  While these helpful tools should eliminate many spelling and grammatical errors they will not catch every single one.  YOU need to proofread your work (out loud is best) several times over to catch poor grammar, awkward sentence structure, spelling mistakes or using a correctly spelled word in the wrong place (examples of these below).   Keep your verb tenses consistent.
  • Format: Your paper should be written in MLA format, double spaced and with 12 point font.  You should use the MLA style of in text citations and provide a Works Cited page.  For epics, cite book number and line number: (Odyssey 5.222-244) For tragedies and comedies, cite the name of the work and the line numbers you use: (Antigone 285-288)  For MLA guidelines here is a good online resource at the Purdue Online Writing Lab:

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