Examine and explain the role of gender and gender identity in Huckleberry Finn. Use specific examples to present your case.

ENGL 2328
Prof. Anderson
First Critical Essay (Short Critical Response)
Due Date: See Syllabus
General Assignment: Write a focused, ~ 3-page critical-response essay in which you
analyze or probe more deeply an issue raised by discussions or readings. You may also
choose one of the additional topics listed below. The essay will be graded holistically.
See syllabus for paper-grading rubric.
Format: Your paper should be approximately three (3) pages plus a Works Cited
page listing primary sources used (the sources or work from the textbook that you are
working with). You do not need to include a title page, and your paper should be
formatted according to current MLA style guidelines. See the Writing Assistance folder
on the Blackboard course home page for additional help with the format and other topics
related to writing this paper. You should use MLA in-text citations for all quotations
(direct and indirect) from the text.
Research: Your research on this first paper includes your reading and thinking. You
should avoid doing outside research for this paper, with exceptions for informal research
as noted for certain topics. I want you to write about the primary sources (readings) only
and to cite specific references from the readings. If you feel you must include secondary
research of any kind, you of course must cite it and include it in your Works Cited list.
Do not include research (whether written in your own words or not) without including
citations.
Any direct quotation (the writer’s exact language) should be put in quotation marks and
cited properly. Any indirect quotation (paraphrases) should be sufficiently changed and
also cited properly. Citations are always necessary, whether you are using someone’s
exact words or referring to ideas. When in doubt, cite.
You may also cite class materials in your paper. I have provided a model for how to cite
class materials in the “Writing Assistance” folder.
Objective: In addition to touching on all of the learning outcomes for this class, this
assignment directly relates to this state-mandated learning outcome: “Write researchbased
critical papers about the assigned readings in clear and grammatically correct
prose, using various critical approaches to literature.”
Based on this state objective, the holistic grade for your essay will encompass an
evaluation of the quality of your critical thinking, the aptness of your critical approach,
and the coherence of your writing. In general, this essay will be more informal than the
second essay, but you should still strive to be clear and forceful in your prose.
General Assignment Topic:
Expand on one of the questions posed in the class discussions so far (such as the
controversies related to Huck Finn), or use one of the topics below. Expand on points,
discover new points as you probe the questions more deeply, and provide specific
evidence from the texts or secondary sources to support your assertions. A topic that
really sparked your interest or prompted you to an energetic discussion is a good place to
start. You may use parts of your own writing from the discussion if you wish. You should
not use the “introduce yourself” discussion or any other general icebreaker as a basis for
expansion for this essay option. Use close reading as the basis for your critical analysis.
Please note that whatever topic you choose, this essay must be grounded in the
literary works studied in this class (American Literature II). For all topics, you
should also quote directly and indirectly from your primary source (the text) as
needed to support your argument.
ENGL 2328
Prof. Anderson
First Critical Essay (Short Critical Response)
Due Date: See Syllabus
General Assignment: Write a focused, ~ 3-page critical-response essay in which you
analyze or probe more deeply an issue raised by discussions or readings. You may also
choose one of the additional topics listed below. The essay will be graded holistically.
See syllabus for paper-grading rubric.
Format: Your paper should be approximately three (3) pages plus a Works Cited
page listing primary sources used (the sources or work from the textbook that you are
working with). You do not need to include a title page, and your paper should be
formatted according to current MLA style guidelines. See the Writing Assistance folder
on the Blackboard course home page for additional help with the format and other topics
related to writing this paper. You should use MLA in-text citations for all quotations
(direct and indirect) from the text.
Research: Your research on this first paper includes your reading and thinking. You
should avoid doing outside research for this paper, with exceptions for informal research
as noted for certain topics. I want you to write about the primary sources (readings) only
and to cite specific references from the readings. If you feel you must include secondary
research of any kind, you of course must cite it and include it in your Works Cited list.
Do not include research (whether written in your own words or not) without including
citations.
Any direct quotation (the writer’s exact language) should be put in quotation marks and
cited properly. Any indirect quotation (paraphrases) should be sufficiently changed and
also cited properly. Citations are always necessary, whether you are using someone’s
exact words or referring to ideas. When in doubt, cite.
You may also cite class materials in your paper. I have provided a model for how to cite
class materials in the “Writing Assistance” folder.
Objective: In addition to touching on all of the learning outcomes for this class, this
assignment directly relates to this state-mandated learning outcome: “Write researchbased critical papers about the assigned readings in clear and grammatically correct
prose, using various critical approaches to literature.”
Based on this state objective, the holistic grade for your essay will encompass an
evaluation of the quality of your critical thinking, the aptness of your critical approach,
and the coherence of your writing. In general, this essay will be more informal than the
second essay, but you should still strive to be clear and forceful in your prose.
General Assignment Topic:
Expand on one of the questions posed in the class discussions so far (such as the
controversies related to Huck Finn), or use one of the topics below. Expand on points,
discover new points as you probe the questions more deeply, and provide specific
evidence from the texts or secondary sources to support your assertions. A topic that
really sparked your interest or prompted you to an energetic discussion is a good place to
start. You may use parts of your own writing from the discussion if you wish. You should
not use the “introduce yourself” discussion or any other general icebreaker as a basis for
expansion for this essay option. Use close reading as the basis for your critical analysis.
Please note that whatever topic you choose, this essay must be grounded in the
literary works studied in this class (American Literature II). For all topics, you
should also quote directly and indirectly from your primary source (the text) as
needed to support your argument.
I will post samples of both approaches (options).
Additional close-reading topics not drawn from discussion questions:
1. Discuss Huck’s conscience and psychological growth in Huckleberry Finn. (How is this a
coming of age novel?) How does he decide to do the right thing? How is each time he decides to
help Jim fundamentally different from the last?
2. Examine Huck’s journey as a “Hero’s Journey.” For this topic, you should look up
Joseph Campbell’s theory of the mythic journey, and that will be a second source. Identify
specific steps that seem to fit the mythical steps, and explain how this analysis helps to boost
Huck’s status as a moral hero.
3. Explain how Ambrose Bierce’s story “Chickamauga” could be read as a zombie or ghost
story and explain how that might be useful. Use examples from your own viewings of shows like
this. What are zombie or ghost stories “about”?
4. Poetry explication: Write a close reading (explication) of a single poem from Volume D.
Focus on a motif or specific technique used by the author.
5. Explain how Huck and Jim’s friendship develops in the novel and how Twain depicts this
through specific scenes, exchanges, details, and dialogue.
6. Explain and analyze the significance of food in Huckleberry Finn. How does food help to
illustrate relationships and specific cultural settings?
7. Examine and discuss several important symbols in Huckleberry Finn.
8. Examine and explain the role of gender and gender identity in Huckleberry Finn. Use
specific examples to present your case.
NOTE: As stated in the plagiarism policy, failure to properly document any used
sources will result in a failing grade on this assignment. Failure to adhere to MLA
documentation rules may also result in serious grade consequences. Use the new MLA
documentation standards (8th edition).
More on Grading: Your grade will be based on a holistic assessment of the quality of
your paper, including quality and originality of thinking, clarity and coherence of writing,
overall writing style, and, to a lesser degree, mechanics. Please revise, edit, and proofread
your paper after you have your initial draft done.
Note on length: If you’re having trouble meeting the page-length requirements, it
probably means that you have not sufficiently explored your ideas in depth or elaborated
on your points enough for the assignment. Do not rest on the easy assumption that you
can say everything you want to say in a page and a half. When in doubt, go back to the
text and look at the evidence. If your paper is longer than the required five pages, that’s
probably fine, and you will not incur an automatic penalty. Either way, the goal is always
quality over quantity.
Additional tips: For this first essay in particular, you can use a somewhat informal style
and think of it more as an expanded response to one of the discussion questions. Don’t
get bogged down by the idea of “writing a paper.” Focus on quality of thinking instead of
worrying about not making grammatical mistakes. Let your thinking do the work.
More help: Please see the “Writing and Research Assistance” folder for additional
resources to help you complete this assignment, and direct your unanswered questions to
me as soon as possible.

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