(Friday Feb. 2): Write a 4-page critical essay on an issue raised
in the course so far. The essay must approach the issue by way
of a close examination of one or two of the works in the syllabus.
"Critical essay" means that the essay cannot be only
a summary, description, paraphrase, or survey of topics and works.
Instead, think about the evidence so as to build an analytical,
interpretive argument about the issues at stake. Some of
the best critical arguments are those that study some tension,
contradiction, or puzzle. That is, they do not start off with
a single, inflexible thesis and then proceed to flatten everything
in their path to demonstrate that thesis. Rather, they note that
an issue or work seems to turn upon an important inner tension
(e.g., "information wants to be free," but "information
should be private") and then try to think through the implications
or premises of that tension.
The essay should have a useful title, notes,
and a bibliography. For the notes and bibliography, you are free
to follow any standard reference style recognized by the humanities,
social sciences, or sciences (so long as you are consistent).
If you have no reason for choosing one style over another, then
by default please follow the documentation style set out in the
Handbook (the dominant style guide for publications in
the field of English literary studies; available at the bookstore).
For other styles, consult the Chicago
Manual of Style. For links to online citation guides,
Guide to Citation Style Guides (includes the MLA
guide to citing works on the Web). When citing works in the
Course Reader, please consult the full citations included in the
reader (table of contents with citations available online).
For resources on critical writing and writing
style, see: Transcriptions
Guide to Online Resources for Writing and Speaking and Resources
for Writers and Writing Instructors (Jack Lynch, Rutgers U.)