ENGL 1102/Spring 2023/Essays

From Gerald R. Lucas

Four formal literary analyses make up the bulk of your grade in ENGL 1102. These essays will allow students to master this integral, college-level medium, develop their research skills, learn how to use specific evidence to develop and support suppositions, and engage in critical thinking. These essays will require library research and knowledge of MLA style for document formatting and citing sources.

All essays in ENGL 1102 are aimed at developing skills for writing about cultural texts, like analysis, interpretation, and research.


Format Directions

The college essay is a particular medium of communication, and therefore has particular characteristics or conventions that must be included.

All essays should be word processed, using the format outlined by the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.[1] Essays should have a maximum of 1000 words. Actual length will be determined by the subject and argument: long enough to cover the topic and short enough to be interesting. Essay conventions include: a specific title, an identifiable thesis statement, at least five paragraphs that include an introduction and conclusion, and a works cited page.


Employ the following conventions when writing a literary analysis:

  • Use present tense when discussing the text, as it is a timeless piece of literature.
  • Avoid using personal pronouns like “I” or “you” in the analysis. Instead, use third person pronouns such as “he,” “she,” “it,” or “they.”
  • Use evidence from the text to support your analysis and argument. It is important to include specific quotations and examples from the text to back up your claims.
  • Avoid summarizing the plot of the text in detail. Instead, focus on the themes and ideas that are most relevant to your analysis.
  • Use a clear and concise writing style. Avoid using flowery language or overly complicated sentence structures.
  • Use proper MLA citation style to give credit to the original source of the text you are analyzing.
  • Include an introduction that provides context and background information about the text, but consider your audience. Assume that your readers are familiar with the author and the story already.
  • Provide a clear and well-supported thesis statement that outlines the main argument or theme of your analysis.
  • Use a logical and organized structure to present your analysis and ideas.
  • Conclude your analysis by summarizing your main points and reiterating your thesis. Consider how your analysis adds to the larger conversation about the text or the literary world at large.

See “Writing in the Liberal Arts” for additional information.


While the medium will remain the same for all four essays, your approach will change reflected primarily in the content or subject matter.

Essay 1

This essay will be a reader-response on any of the short stories we have read for class. Students should select a work and interpret it according to their own informed view of the piece. Research for this essay is not required, but encouraged.

Essay 2

This analytical interpretative essay is a research paper that applies an identifiable critical approach to analyze and interpret a literary text. Like essay 1, you should choose a short story or poem that we have read up until this point (excluding your choice for essay 1) and apply a specific mode of interpretation, like feminist, civic, or cultural. This essay must use at least two solid secondary sources.

Writing an analytical interpretive essay involves critically examining and interpreting a literary text—analyzing the text in detail and considering its themes, characters, plot, and style in order to understand its meaning and significance.

In writing an analytical interpretive essay, you should aim to demonstrate your understanding of the text and provide well-supported and logical interpretation of its elements or a single element, like a character, theme, etc. Your analysis must incorporate research, using the text and other sources to support your arguments. Write in a clear and concise manner and follow the conventions of writing a literary analysis, including the use of proper grammar and punctuation and the correct citation of sources.

The goal of an analytical interpretive essay is to offer a deeper understanding of the text and its place within the larger context of culture and to consider the ways in which it engages with and reflects upon contemporary issues and concerns.

See Research Essay and the assignment specifics on Deep Dives for more details.

Essay 3

The comparative analysis essay employs the same approach of the analytical interpretative essay to compare any short story to any poem (or song) we have read this semester using any interpretive method we have studied thus far. Indicate somewhere on your paper the interpretative method you employ. This essay must use at least two solid secondary sources.

See Research Essay for specific details.

Essay 4

The final research essay will apply any interpretative method we have discussed this semester to August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom—either the play itself or the performance. For example, you could investigate just why a play written in the early 1980s is relevant today. This essay must use at least two solid secondary sources.

See Research Essay for specific details.

Packback Deep Dives

Each of the above essays will be submitted on Packback Deep Dives.

An email invitation will be sent to you from help@packback.co prompting you to finish registration. If you don’t receive an email (be sure to check your spam), you may register by following these instructions:

  1. Create an account by navigating to Packback and clicking “Sign up for an Account.” Note: If you already have an account on Packback you can log in with your credentials.
  2. Then enter our class community’s lookup key into the “Looking to join a community you don't see here?” section in Packback at the bottom of the homepage.
     note: Community Lookup Key: 1f03c207-037e-4b0e-8d57-58591c6aca2b
  3. Follow the instructions on your screen to finish your registration.

Deep Dives requires a paid subscription. See an introductory video:


Rewrites are integral to the writing process, and I encourage everyone to do them. Please follow the instructions if you wish to rewrite any assigned essay for re-evaluation. REwrites will not be accepted unless the directions are followed.


  1. See Policies § MLA Style for an overview and consult your handbook for specific instructions.
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