English 101 Term Paper
ENGLISH 101–PAPER 1 ASSIGNMENT
SHORT LITERARY EXPLICATION
Length: approximately five typed pages
Due Monday, January 14, 2011
The word "explication" comes from a Latin word that means "unfolding." When you explicate a story or novel or poem, you "unfold" its meaning in an essay by interpreting or analyzing a portion of it. You can analyze a character, a single incident, symbols, point of view, structure, and so on. No explication can take into account everything that goes on in a story; the explication would be longer than the story itself. So your paper should focus on one or two elements that you think contribute to the overall meaning or purpose of the story. A good explication concentrates on details: you should quote portions of the story to show how the text supports your thesis. Then you should offer comments that show how the portion you're interpreting contributes to the story as a whole. Suggested Approach:
(1) Choose one of the stories we have already read this semester from your textbook. (2) Read the story several times, until you think you have an idea of its overall theme or thesis or meaning. Jot down notes as you read. (3) Choose an element of the story (incident, character, style, symbol, structure) that seems to you to enhance or define the meaning as you understand it. (4) Construct a THESIS that indicates (a) your focus, and (b) the relation of that focus to the story as a whole. A thesis represents your conclusion or opinion about the story. Thus your thesis is argumentative; it should not be an obvious point, but should be a thoughtful statement that indicates some of the complexity and depth of the story and that takes a point of view on the story–a statement that needs support to work as an argument. Don't settle for the first generalization that comes to your mind; that approach almost always leads to trite responses and poor grades. I'm always on the lookout for the "So what?" factor in paper topics. Ask...
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