Final Essay Assignment

Due: Tuesday, July 29th by 11:00am (the start of class) via email

To download a PDF of the assignment, click here: Final Paper Assignment.

For this assignment, you will write a 5-7 page comparative essay about two different texts, one of which must be a literary text on the syllabus, and discuss the ways in which those two texts together address one of the following concepts.

  • The Uncanny
  • Art and the Arts
  • Stereotypes and Prejudices
  • Portrayals of Women
  • Mirrors and Reflections
  • Technology, Magic and Power
  • Something Else that Speaks to You

These are broad topics and not theses in their own right. Choose a topic, decide which texts you wish to discuss, and then figure out what your thesis is. Your thesis should be a concrete statement that not only explains what the two texts say about the topic, but also how they relate to one another. A good thesis is one that makes a specific claim about how each text engages with part of the topic and goes on to explain the relationship between how each text discusses the topic.

You do not need to use outside sources for this paper; your arguments should be primarily based on your close readings and in-depth analyses of the texts you have chosen.



Your paper must refer to two different texts. One of those texts must be a work of literature that is on the syllabus. The other can also come from the syllabus OR you can choose an outside text. For the purposes of this essay, a text is a cultural artifact produced by a creator. Examples include books, television shows, movies, songs, paintings, graphic novels, and video games.

Your paper should be written in 12 pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced with one inch margins. You must provide a works cited page that includes the editions of the texts you used. You must include properly formatted in-text citations, a heading and a title. Your paper should be formatted according to MLA convention (See the Purdue Writing Lab for help).

A 5-7 page paper means that your paper must extend onto most of the fifth page excluding the bibliography and should not go much beyond eight pages. Anywhere within those boundaries is acceptable.

Your paper must begin with an introduction that includes the name of the author and the texts you are examining and ends with your thesis.

Your paper must end with a formal conclusion that does not simply restate the argument that is your thesis, but comments on it in some fashion.


Suggestions and Advice:

When writing a comparative paper such as this one, the temptation is to generate a thesis like: “Text X and Text Y have many similarities in the way they present the uncanny, but there are also several differences between them”. That is not a thesis, it is an observation so manifestly true it is almost impossible to disagree with. If your thesis boils down to one like that, consider rethinking what it is you actually wish to say.

A thesis is specific. If you are writing about the uncanny or about the role of stereotype or about mirrors, make very concrete claims. It’s not enough to say that texts use stereotypes or they use mirrors in the abstract, say what the role of those ideas are in the text (yes, in your thesis).

A thesis makes a claim. At the end of the day, if you are arguing that the texts are both similar and different, you have to pick one and make that your thesis. You can argue that, despite surface similarities, they are really quite different or despite the apparent differences, they are actually doing similar things. But a thesis is always an argument rather than a statement. You may wish to examine both the similarities and differences, but remember that you must do in the context of arguing for one or the other at the end.



Your paper will be graded primarily on the quality of your argument and how well you make your case. I will look for a strong, argumentative thesis; coherent paragraphs; textual evidence supported by interpretation; and adherence to MLA formatting. I will also be grading you on the presentation of your argument. I expect your papers to be well organized, progress logically from one paragraph to the next and to be clearly written with few or no typos. An A paper is one that does all these things.

One final word of advice – clarity is crucial. If I do not understand what you are trying to convey, I cannot grade you on what I think you might be saying. I can only grade you on what you say. So make sure that you write clearly; the main goal of every paper is to transfer thoughts from your mind into your reader’s. Doing that with panache is nice, but nowhere near as important as clarity.


I'm a doctoral student in English Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My interests lie in the field known very broadly as the Digital Humanities and I focus on reading digital books (what happens to books as they become not merely digitized, but digital) and reading books digitally (how can we use computers to learn new things about literature). In what spare time I have, I read speculative fiction, transform long strings of yarn into apparel and decor and play with my friends' dogs while eagerly awaiting the day when we move to an apartment complex that will allow us to have one.

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Posted in English 10: M14

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