Photographic portrait of Alfred, Lord Tennyson by Julia Margaret Cameron (1865)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Julia Margaret Cameron, 1865)

Your essay is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, April 8th. If you are proposing your own essay topic, you should email a description of that topic to me by Wednesday, April 1st.

All of the following questions require that you first generate a thesis specific to the essay at hand. Once you have stated your position, you will need to prove your argument by carefully looking at the chosen material and mustering textual evidence to support that position.

  • Please avoid biographical readings of the texts. Your assignment here is to support literary analysis through close reading of the literature itself.
  • Please do not use any outside criticism for this assignment

For each essay, you should develop a thesis that allows you to discuss at least two works by a single author or two works by two different authors.

  • Guidelines: You must discuss at least 2 pieces of literature but no more than 3
  • Paper Length – 4-5 pages, typewritten and double-spaced. I would like you to use the Times New Roman 12 point font, or something comparable.
  • I will expect you to use MLA format when writing your essay. You may purchase your own MLA Handbook (or use the library’s). I have, however, noted some helpful sites as well.
  • Don’t forget the materials I’ve posted on our website

Writing Prompts

1. In an essay that makes connections across periods, discuss experiments in lyric poetry from Wordsworth to Yeats. You may choose to discuss the interrelationship of the dramatic lyric and the dramatic monologue, for example. For this paper, you’ll need to write on different poems than you did for your first exam essay (i.e. if you wrote on “Frost at Midnight,” for example, you would not be able to discuss it again). You may also choose to write on the sonnet and experiments in that form.

2. Victorian poets were intent upon exploring the individual psyche as it was affected by his or her social context. They chose to make this exploration through verse. Discuss the ways in poets employ verse form to explore human subjectivity. This question requires you to carefully consider poetic form in the essay itself (i.e. how do Victorian poets adapt the conventions of the lyric for their specific purposes?).

 A variation of this question would examine World War I poetry in a similar vein.

 3. In an essay that addresses both poetry and prose, discuss the ways in which Victorian authors participated in the great conversations of their day as social reformers. You may choose the focus of your essay.

4. The literary and the visual are deeply entwined within Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics. In an essay that explores at least two pieces of art (i.e. two poems or a poem and a painting), discuss the ways these “sister arts” inform each other in the work of the Pre-Raphaelites.

5. You may compose your own topic. If you would like to write on a topic of your own choosing you must submit a description of your proposed essay with me via email. Please submit no later than Wednesday, April 1st.