During the first few weeks of class we have been reading Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline and discussing the novel’s characters, setting, themes, plot, and epistolary structure. We then moved on to Neil Simon’s 1983 play Brighton Beach Memoirs. Now we are going to take a break from reading and work on composing our first major essay of the semester.
For our first writing assignment all students will focus on Coraline or Brighton Beach Memoirs, analyzing one aspect of the text. This assignment will provide students the opportunity to explore significant ideas from the novel in more depth, to apply literary terms and concepts in their own writing, and to begin learning to make and support a literary argument, a very different skill than what they would have mastered in English 101 or 105. There are a number of options listed below, but students are welcome to formulate a topic of their own, as long as it is based on this reading. If students have questions or need further help, they can come to my office for brainstorming or email me with questions.
As this is our first paper, we will be spending time during Week 5 discussing it and looking at a strong studentsample from a previous term. We will also have peer editing for this paper, which will be conducted through Peer Mark. I will explain clearly the protocols for using Peer Mark. For a full explanation of Peer Mark policies, please see page 4 of the syllabus. The due dates and times for rough draft submission, peer mark editing completion, and final draft submission are listed on the daily calendar as well as at the end of this assignment sheet.
- Explore the settings of Coraline. How does the “Other World” and it’s de-evolution help Gaiman reinforce key theme(s) in his novel?
- Trace the character development of Coraline as a character. How is she described in the beginning of the novel? At the end? Consider the lesson(s) she learns from her experiences.***Make sure to apply our literary terms for characterization (round, flat, static, and dynamic) in your discussion.
- Consider the role of adults in Coraline. How do the adults interact with Coraline? How do they affect her development as a character?
- Consider Simon’s use of the pre-World War II setting for Brighton Beach Memoirs. How does this particular time period influence the action of the narrative and the development of the characters?
- Consider the sibling relationships in Brighton Beach Memoirs. How do the older siblings educate and support the younger siblings? How do these relationships help the younger siblings? How do the older siblings struggle as they navigate their responsibility to their younger brother or sister while trying to come of age themselves?
- For either Coraline or Brighton Beach Memoirs, explore the role of adults on the protagonist’s development. Students may think of the Coraline’s parents, neighbors, or even “other” parents or of Jack and Kate Jerome. How do these adults help the adolescents? How do they disappoint or disillusion them?
There are many avenues that students could take in drafting this essay. The above suggestions are all good, but students should not feel that they cannot explore other approaches.
- All essays should be at least 850- 1,000 words in length. Well-developed essays may exceed the length, but all essays should meet the minimum requirement.
- All essays should be in standard MLA manuscript form, including size 12.0 Times New Roman font, double-spaced text, and standard 1 inch margins. All essays will have a header with the student’s last name and page number in the top right hand corner of every page ½ inch from the margin.
- All essays should have at least five (5) properly documented in-text citations from the novel or play to demonstrate both a firm comprehension of the mechanics of in-text citations as well as the ability to choose appropriate textual proof to support written claims. Students could easily use more—use as much textual proof as needed to support your argument.
- All essays should have a creative and original title that the student writer creates, not simply the title of the text!