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Final Essay

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The Final Essay Assignment
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The Prompt
As we’ve discussed all semester long, the final essay for our class will involve some research. The first part of this assignment sheet sets up the prompt and the essay’s required elements.
One of the things you’ll notice about this assignment is that elements of it are modeled off of previous assignments. This is deliberate, as they’ve given you practice at this type of argumentation.
This special topic section of English Composition II has focused upon the horror genre as practiced by American writers. We’ve read and discussed several works from horror authors over the course of the nation’s history, and considered in-depth longer fiction from the 20th Century horror icon Shirley Jackson. We’ve also delved into popular culture, examining comic books and, time permitting, television shows and movies.
For this essay, you’ll be asked to pick another horror story (see The Topic section for some ideas) to add to this course’s discussion. In the interest of time, I suggest a short story, but you could read a novel for this project as well. More specifically, your essay should do the following things:
(1) Provide your readers unfamiliar with your chosen text some context about the work, including a brief summary of the story. Likely, this would occur in your first support paragraph after your introduction.
(2) Review the story. This is your opportunity to argue whether or not the text makes for a “good read.” You may turn to the elements of fiction that we’ve worked on this semester as a way of detailing why you feel the way you do about the book. You might also turn to any reviews or analysis of the tale or its subgenre that you’ve uncovered in your research – and incorporate ideas from these into your own argument. This portion of your essay should be at least 2 paragraphs long.
(3) Explain why the text should be considered horror. We’ve worked with classification this semester, and for this essay, you’ll need to dwell upon the features of this story that either make it supernatural or are primarily intent upon frightening its readers. You should turn to theory about horror in general to apply to this tale, especially if you have a hard time finding sources on the story itself (more on this in the next section as well). This second piece of your argument should be between 1 – 2 paragraphs long.
(4) Speculate why an audience might find this story appealing. Please note: For this section, it doesn’t matter whether you liked the piece or not – you’re picking the target audience for the work (or some specific group of readers) and arguing why they would like this tale. For instance, if you’re writing about Twilight, you might posit why you think so many teenage girls have become such big fans of it. This section would probably be a paragraph long.
(5) Finally, argue whether or not you think this story would make a good inclusion for our special topics class. Here is another section where your research might come into play. Some potential questions you could answer include the following. Does this work fit into some larger movement in horror that needs to be addressed in the course? Does the tale have positive critical response? Has anyone argued that it demonstrates something of importance or interest? Like step 4, this would likely be at least a paragraph.
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The Topic
You might consider writing about one of the following. Please keep in mind that your choice of story need not necessarily be written by an American writer – though given the focus of our class, that would be preferable. If you’re not writing about an American writer, be sure to address this issue in your response to #5.
I’d like to leave things as open-ended as possible to allow for your own individual interests. The work you select could be by either a classic or a contemporary author; however, it should be something that would be considered written fiction. In other words, no Poe poetry or John Carpenter’s Halloween. Your story selection must be approved by me; I get final say on the matter. Below are a few ideas to get you started on thinking about what you could write about:
You could use the authors collected in American Supernatural Tales as a springboard for ideas (though you may not use an actual story collected in it). Many of them, like Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, and Richard Matheson, are prolific writers of horror fiction, both short and long. Just keep in mind that most of the authors collected in that anthology have written material outside of the supernatural genre as well, and that these wouldn’t work for this essay.

You may also use a current popular work of horror, like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight or Scott Smith’s The Ruins, if you’re interested in covering a novel-length work. Most of the novels written by bestselling author Dean Koontz could be appropriate as well, and he’s published short fiction collected in a book titled Strange Highways.

Finally, I am open to graphic art storytelling and young adult literature. For instance, we’ve brought up the infamous Tales from the Crypt comics of the

1950’s as we discussed The House of Mystery comics. I’ve placed three volumes of Tales from the Crypt reprints on reserve at the RVCC Library if you’re curious about this. Something like The Goosebumps series is also a possibility.

Just to repeat, I have final say on your selection. Everyone will be working on a different story – in both sections of my class. A running list of story selections will be posted in the “Files” section of our Lions Den course site, so you’ll be able to see what has already been claimed; the list also might give you some additional ideas for your own selection.
Your story selection absolutely, positively must be approved by 4 April 2011! {This may be done through e-mail.}
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The Sources
Regardless of your story selection, you are required to use at least 4 outside sources. These 4 sources must cover the following 3 categories, which logically means that at least one of these categories will have more than one source represented. Exceptions may be considered on a case by case basis depending upon the text you are focusing upon.
The story itself.
At least one essay or book that discusses horror or the subgenre you’re looking at (comic books, juvenile literature, etc.) in a theoretical or historical framework. This source [These sources] should especially help you with your genre categorization portion of your argument.
At least one article on the text itself or the author. In other words, you have to find at least one piece that critically examines the work or the author you’ll be writing about.

At least 2 of your sources must be found through the databases available through RVCC’s Library; Academic Search Premier, Literature Resource Center, and JSTOR are some possibilities. These databases can be located by clicking on the “Databases” tab on the library’s main page at http://library.raritanval.edu/ . Remember, the library employs people to help you find the materials you may need. We’ll also be spending a day at the library to receive instruction on how to find sources.
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Format
As with your other essays, this paper should follow MLA format. In a basic outline, here are the requirements for the research essay:
6 – 8 pages in length [this means you should have at the very least 6 FULL pages of text] typed in Times New Roman, point size 12

double-spaced with one-inch margins pages should be numbered in the upper right-hand corner a centered title that is not bold, italicized, or underlined
Works Cited page

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When is the Due Date for this Essay?
The final draft of this essay will be due on 26 April 2011. Your grade will be negatively affected if it is late, regardless of the reason for not having it submitted on time. There will be a separate assignment sheet for the Annotated Bibliography, and it will be due on 12 April 2011. We’ll discuss this further after our Library Instruction Day.
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Some Tips From Your Friendly Neighborhood Instructor
1. Stick to arranging your essay around the 5 required topics listed above.
2. Write clear topic sentences that serve as mini-theses for your body paragraphs.
3. Be sure to provide context for your quotes, paraphrases, and summaries in ways that we discussed in class. Don’t forget the “Sandwich Rule!”
4. Add transitions to make your writing flow and to connect your sentences and ideas.
5. Avoid “descriptive reporting,” overusing quotes, and plagiarism.
6. After you’ve written your rough draft, proofread carefully for sentence fragments, comma splices, word usage errors, and spelling errors.

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What if I need some help on this assignment?
As always, you are free to contact me at any point in the writing process. Remember, my e-mail address is jfelix@raritanval.edu . You may also visit me during my office hours or contact me about setting up a convenient time for us to sit down and discuss your concerns. Of course, we’ll also be having several class sessions with time devoted to working on your essays. More information about this will be reviewed during class.
Also, the Academic Support Center is available to assist you. As I’ve mentioned all semester long, I am a big fan of the Academic Support Center. Again, they are located on the Ground Floor of Somerset Hall. I highly recommend this for everyone – for reasons we’ve discussed several times during the semester.
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