Philip Nel > Courses > English 680: 20th Century American Children's Picturebooks (Fall 2005) > Paper Assignment (Undergraduate Students)

Paper Assignment (Undergraduates)

English 680: 20th Century American Children's Picturebooks

PAPER DUE: In class, Dec. 2, 2005.
PAPER LENGTH: 8-10 pages.


        Your paper should offer a persuasive argument about one or two of the picturebooks on the syllabus. A persuasive argument requires a thesis, supporting evidence from the text(s) (direct as well as indirect support), and explanation of that evidence. Your paper should have an introduction which states the thesis, body paragraphs providing the support and explanation of that support, a conclusion, and a "Works Cited" page. (Further guidelines are below.)

        I am not requiring you to situate your argument is in relation to critical discussions about the author's or authors' work. However, I am requiring you to situate your claims in context. Choose one or two contexts that you feel are relevant and, in your opening paragraph, establish why they are relevant. You may use the same book and same contexts that you used in your group presentation (it would certainly save you some time if you did), but you don't have to use that book or those contexts.

Paper Guidelines

Getting Started...

1. Read and Reread; formulate a provisional thesis. Read and reread the work or works you've decided to write about, with a mind to the topic you have chosen. Take careful notes, making note of all relevant words, phrases, images, and illustrations. Formulate a provisional thesis.

2. Consider the context(s). Consider the work in light of the context or contexts you have chosen. How does a particular context prove useful in understanding the book in question? What are the limitations of using this context? Decide how you will be using context (or contexts) to interpret the work.

Writing the Paper...

1. The introduction:
a. Read and reread the work or works you've decided to write about, with a mind to the topic you have chosen. Take careful notes, making note of all relevant words, phrases, images, and (if applicable) illustrations.

b. State your thesis. Make sure your thesis is specific enough to be covered adequately in the space of your discussion. Remember: merely noting a difference or similarity does not constitute a thesis. Refer to the handout titled "Thesis vs. Topic."

2. Each paragraph should begin with a claim. Just as a thesis claim guides the paper as a whole, a paragraph's claim (often referred to as a "topic sentence") guides a paragraph. So, at or near the beginning of each paragraph, include a topic sentence that states your paragraph's central argument. The topic sentence serves as a bridge between thesis and paragraph by making an interpretive claim that indicates how the paragraph will support your thesis.

3. Provide support. To persuade your readers to your position, you will need to provide some evidence in support of your claims. Quotations or illustrations from the picturebook should be used as evidence to prove your assertions.

4. Analysis and explanation of evidence. Be sure to analyze the quotation or illustration and discuss its significance. Explain for your reader how your evidence supports your claims.

5. Conclusion. Your last paragraph should synthesize, not summarize. You should resolve -- and not merely repeat -- your argument. Think of a conclusion this way: it both reminds your reader of where you've been and suggests new areas to explore.

And, after you finish your draft...

1. Revise and edit. Read your paper out loud to yourself. Often you will hear what your eyes will miss.

2. Grammar and structure are important. To help yourself proofread and revise with both of these ideas in mind, please see the handout titled "Keys to Structure and Style."

3. When in doubt, get help. My office hours are on the syllabus, and by appointment. My email address is Also, please make use of a grammar handbook and of the handouts linked to this paper assignment: "Imagery and Figurative Language," "Thesis vs. Topic," and "Keys to Structure and Style."


for English 680: 20th Century American Children's Picturebooks

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