Scholarly Essay Review and Presentation

During the first full week of class, you’ll need to sign up for one of the essays I’ve chosen. You should make this decision based on which book you think you’ll be most interested in (as this assignment could give you a head start on your final essay) and when you’ll have the time in your schedule to devote to this task.

Once you’ve chosen your essay, read it carefully. I’d be happy to discuss the essay with you if you want to clarify your understanding, but don’t expect me to digest it for you. Then write a 500 word summary of the essay. This summary should state the author’s thesis in one sentence, and then proceed to articulate the structure of the argument and the main supporting points.

Second, write a 500 word response in which you engage the essay and bring in new evidence from the primary text to either extend the original argument, critique the original argument, or some combination of the two. In other words, I want you to begin a critical conversation with the essay while keeping your dialogue focused on the primary text. Your response must have a clear thesis of your own.

Third, write a final paragraph in which you reflect on what you’ve learned about the genre of academic literary analysis from the scholarly essay. At the end of the semester, you’ll be writing a shorter essay in this same genre, so I want you to consider how the author went about their task and identify both rhetorical strategies you might use and pitfalls you want to avoid. Think about features such as macro and micro organization, prose style, use of evidence, and metacommentary.

During class, you’ll present on all three sections of your review and then lead the class in a discussion. Please provide handouts and prepare thoughtful questions.

Grading: Completed assignments must be emailed to me by midnight the night before the class in which you present. Your grade will be based upon the following criteria: 1) the accuracy of your understanding and interpretation of the essay, 2) the persuasiveness and creativity of your response, and 3) the quality of your classroom presentation and your ability to guide a lively discussion.