Poetry Analysis Argument / Research Paper Assignment Sheet

Note: Take this document with you to any writing lab appointment you make. Tutors need to know this information, in addition to seeing your essay in order to fully assist you in the writing process.

Points:Maximum points: 150.


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Length:The paper should be a minimum of 5 complete pages (this means your essay should hit or come reasonably close) to the last line on page 5) and should not be more than 7 pages (not counting the Works Cited page).

· Introduction and author biography should be no longer than 2 pages at most.

· The majority of essay should be analysis of the poem.

Source Requirement:The Works Cited page must list 5 sources, 1 primary (the poem, itself) and at minimum 4 secondary; see note below for more details. Every source listed on the Works Cited must be used in the text of the paper.

Assignment: For this essay, you will focus on one poem and its poet. It must be a poem assigned in this class.

Introduction and Thesis

· The paper should have an original title that is not just the title of the text you are writing about. State the author’s full name and title of the text in the introduction, and refer to the author by last name only thereafter.

· Your introduction must have a debatable thesis. This should be the last sentence (or two, if necessary) of the FIRST paragraph. Underline your thesis/claim statement to make it stand out.


The first two pages will focus on the life and history of the poet. Choose a specific angle (relationships, education, family, thematic connection the poem, childhood, vices/problems, etc) to discuss in this portion of the essay.

· Include details from your textbook (if available) and from at least two research sources.

· Your life and history portion must be accurate, cohesive (not a list), detailed, and focused.

· You must make and support conclusions about the author.

· At the end of this section, you must make a smooth transition into the analysis portion of this assignment


The second section (must be at least three pages) should argue your interpretation of the poem. Consider this to be a thematic analysis – it will be your job to support your reading of the poem, your interpretation of its theme and how its use of literary elements contributes to that theme .

· Your essay should show a strong familiarity with the poem and should use literary elements and terminology to explain your debatable, interpretive angle and argument.

· Everything in your essay should work towards helping your develop and prove the literary argument as stated in this thesis sentence. This section of your essay should be paragraphs developed in support of your thematic interpretation of the poem. It should be organized by literary element or section of the poem. Each paragraph should be an organized, contained unit, using quotes from research and the poem to support your reading. Do not organize by summary.

· Include analysis from secondary sources (at least two research sources) and well as your own analysis supported by textual evidence

· This section should use research to support its interpretative claims, integrating quotes into your own sentence. MLA formatting should be used throughout.

Source Details:

You are required to use and document a minimum of five sources in this paper.

· One of these sources should be the primary text (poem) you are discussing.

· Another source may be the biographical information in the textbook.

· The other three sources should be secondary sources in which scholars or experts have written their interpretations and analyses of the texts or topics that are relevant to your argument. These can be found using the school’s online databases.

· At least two of your secondary sources must be either database sources (journal articles that you can access through the library website’s database) OR print sources.

· Additional sources can be any type (website, documentary, personal interview, etc.) as long as they are relevant and credible. Do NOT use Wikipedia, Ask.com, About.com, Sparknotes.com, Smoop.com, and any other dot com sites.


• Each source must be listed on the Works Cited page that will be the last page of your essay.

• Every source listed on the Works Cited page must be used in the text.

• The in-text citations should take readers to the alphabetical list of sources in the Works Cited page and should lead them to the correct source by providing the FIRST word of the source entry (which will almost always be the author’s last name).

• In-text citations must include page numbers when the source has numbered pages (as almost all of your sources will).

• You should have a good balance of direct quotes and paraphrased information from your sources.

• Every time you use any information from any source, you must credit the source with an in-text citation in the same sentence with that information so that it is very clear to your readers what information comes from you and what information comes from a source (and which source it comes from).

• Read more about source documentation in your textbook and/or in the documents posted online.


Your paper and the Works Cited page MUST be submitted in correct MLA format.

If your writing contains ANY plagiarism (if any source information is not credited to the source it came from), you will be given a ZERO on the paper.

Final Tips:

• Don’t try to cover too much information or use too many literary elements as the focus of your work; instead, choose one or two elements that work together to give an overall interpretation of the text;

• Don’t use summary any more than you need to in order to make a point; assume your readers have already read the text; summary should only be used as support and for clarity;

• Don’t use 2nd person “you” or “your” in your writing (1st person “I” or “we” is allowed IF it fits the tone and style of your work;

• Do remember to make sure your work stays focused on discussing and proving your main argument;

• Do make sure your work is in MLA format and your sources follow MLA guidelines;

• Do proofread and edit carefully!

Research Paper Rubric

Completion (total of 10pts)

· Follows MLA formatting guidelines

· Key assignment instructions are followed

· To achieve full scores, completion guidelines should be met.

Title (10pts)

· Informative

· Creative

· To go beyond an average score, your title should grab the reader’s attention in such a way to inform and tantalize them.

Introduction (15pts)

· Introduces pertinent topic and subject information

· Smooth transition into thesis statement

· To go beyond an average score, your introduction should clearly develop into your thesis and create a groundwork for the rest of your essay.

Thesis (15pts)

· Arguable

· Supportable

· In introduction

· To go beyond an average score, your thesis should also raise interesting questions or make especially original or insightful points.

Organization (15pts)

· Essay is organized around arguments

· Paragraph each have a clear purpose

· Evidence (quotes and summary) is sorted and placed appropriately

· To go beyond an average score, your essay would also include smooth and professional transitions.

Support/Arguments (Also called Topic Sentences or Claims) (15pts)

· Each topic sentence supports thesis statement

· Topic sentences are clear and stated (one per body paragraph)

· Topic sentences directly align with thesis (they match the thesis)

· Claims are relevant, meaningful

· To go beyond an average score, your arguments should be insightful and powerfully worded.

Use of Primary Text/Evidence (15pts)

· Sufficient (Enough to prove a point)

· Appropriate (Directly relates to the argument)

· Clear (Put into context and explained)

· Integrated (Put into your own sentences smoothly)

· To go beyond an average score, your use of evidence should be clear, direct, and especially effective.

Use of Secondary Text/Evidence (15pts)

· Sufficient (Enough to prove a point)

· Appropriate (Directly relates to the argument)

· Clear (Put into context and explained)

· Integrated (Put into your own sentences smoothly)

· To go beyond an average score, your use of evidence should be clear, direct, and especially effective.

Clarity – major and minor grammatical errors (total of20 pts)

· Essay is obviously proofread

· Clear sentence structure

· Few spelling or wording errors

· Clear meaning throughout

· To go beyond an average score, your essay would be written with few to no errors.

Voice (10pts)

· In each paragraph, you connect evidence to claims

· In each paragraph, you make clear connections to thesis

· Essay seems cohesive (is not repetitive or list-like)

· To go beyond an average score, your analysis would develop a writerly voice.

MLA (10pts)

· Proper use of MLA documentation guidelines

· In each essay, in-text citations are used and placed correctly in sentences

· Proper source citations used

· To go beyond an average score, your use of MLA citation style should be flawless.

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