English and Social Context Essay

English and Social Context Essay

Assignment Description:

The task for the final essay of the semester is to write a scholarly essay that cites secondary sources and analyzes a key topic or theme arising from class discussions this semester. You will pick your own final essay topic. Your topic can focus on one or two of the novels from our course reading list, but you cannot choose the novel you wrote about for the passage analysis essay earlier in the semester.

The final essay will contain a research component. Your essay should cite at least 2-3 scholarly secondary sources related to some aspect of social media and literature/literary representation. Think of the research component for this essay as evidence/support for your own thesis related to your topic. In order to find scholarly sources, you will need to access the MacEwan Library online catalogue. I will show you how to find effective scholarly sources in class.

We will brainstorm some possible essay topics emerging from our class discussions this semester, and I will also ask students to post possible topics in the Discussion Board. As you start thinking about a topic, please use me as a resource. Email me if you would like to run a topic idea by me or if you are having trouble selecting a topic. I would be happy to help you formulate an effective topic for this essay.

You may also choose any of the topics emerging from the online essays we read at the start of the semester (all accessible through the Readings folder in Blackboard). You may cite any of these essays in your final essay, but they do not count as scholarly secondary sources.


Your essay must be double-spaced with the default font for your word processor (typically 12-point Times New Roman or 11-point Calibri). Your essay must also include a properly formatted Works Cited section. Do not include a separate title page. Instead, ensure that your first page includes a title centred at the top of the page just above your opening paragraph.

Assignment Requirements:

  1. Your essay’s introductory paragraph must provide at least one quotation from one of your secondary sources in addition to at least two quotations from the novel(s).
  2. Your introductory paragraph must develop the essay’s topic around a particular detail or instance from at least one of the novels on our course reading list. Your essay’s opening sentence should clearly explain the significance of this detail and how it relates to your overall topic and thesis. Think of this detail as the “hook,” so to speak, for your overall topic and thesis. If it helps, you may choose to begin this essay in the same way that you began the passage analysis essay earlier this semester (i.e. a passage set as a block quotation at the beginning of your essay).
  3. Every paragraph of your essay, including the introduction and conclusion, must contain at least two quotations from a primary source, in addition to quotations from secondary sources. Aim for one or two quotations from each of your scholarly secondary sources; with the exception of requirement (1) above, these quotations can appear anywhere in your essay.
  4. All quotations must be cited properly according to MLA style for in-text (parenthetical) citations.
  5. Your essay must have a properly formatted Works Cited section developed in MLA style.

Writing Expectations:

  • Develop your ideas in all instances through the active voice rather than the passive voice. Passive voice tends to introduce wordiness or lack of clarity into student writing. Examples of active voice: I argue, she suggests, this text examines. Examples of passive voice: it is argued that, it has been suggested that, the idea is examined in the text.
  • Pay careful attention to your choice of signal phrases (verbs). Use signal phrases that actually describe the work that academics or writers do: argue, suggest, examine, state, reveal, compare, contrast, juxtapose, develop, insist, declare, analyze, etc. Avoid weak signal phrases: uses, utilizes, is able to, does, makes, believes, goes, gets, allows, gives, feels, thinks, tells, shows, etc.
  • Focus extensively on developing your ideas from paragraph to paragraph. Ensure that each paragraph has a single topic sentence that supports the essay’s overall argument. Implement transition phrases from paragraph to paragraph, or even from sentence to sentence, as a means of guiding your reader through your argument.
  • When framing quotations, focus on citing smaller units of a quotation (such as key words or phrases) rather than entire sentences or passages. This way, you do not run the risk of letting primary or secondary sources speak on your behalf. Students tend to lessen the impact of their own academic voice and argument when they rely too extensively on lengthy quotations and citations. More importantly, shorter quotations are easier to integrate or frame within your own sentences than longer quotations.

Evaluation: I will evaluate and grade your final essay according to the following expectations:

If you receive an A (88-93) or higher, that means your assignment demonstrates a combination of exceptional writing skills and extraordinarily concise and engaging analysis for an assignment of this length. Your thesis and overall analysis are compelling in their attention to details, and they demonstrate an unusually sophisticated scholarly tone of voice. Your paragraphs are nearly flawless in their writing and demonstrate no problems with sentence development. You write exclusively in the active voice and your essay contains no evidence of wordiness or overly general phrasing of ideas. All of your quotations are framed properly in your own sentences, and your in-text citations and Works Cited contain no problems.

If you receive an A- (83-87), that means your assignment demonstrates most of the above qualities of an A-range assignment but lacks one or two components of exceptional work. Your overall thesis and analysis are both very strong, but you might have some instances of awkward phrasing of ideas, formatting of citations, or perhaps some of your sentences are a touch wordy.

If you receive a B+ (79-82), that means your assignment demonstrates above-average quality of writing, analysis, and formatting of quotations and in-text citations. You are on the cusp of getting into the A- range, but your work is not quite exceptional yet. Either your writing is very clear and precise but is not as sophisticated as it could be in its thesis and overall analysis, or your analysis is very sophisticated, but your writing contains some problems with sentence development and phrasing of ideas.

If you receive a B (75-78), that means your assignment demonstrates average quality of writing, analysis, and formatting of quotations and in-text citations. Your thesis and overall analysis both have significant potential, but they are not as sophisticated and carefully written as they could be, yet. Keep working at improving the overall quality of analysis. Focus on specific details and pay careful attention to the development of your argument in your body paragraphs and conclusion. Avoid passive voice, general claims, and awkward sentence development.

If you receive a B- (72-74) or C+ (68-71), that means your assignment contains some significant problems with both its quality of ideas and its writing/sentence development. Typically, students who receive these grades either struggled with how to express their ideas or didn’t follow the assignment instructions properly. Yet, there is still some potential in your overall thesis and analysis. Keep working at fine-tuning your sentence development. Make sure that your quotations are always framed properly in your sentences and that they don’t introduce major sentence problems such as comma splices, sentence fragments, or run-on sentences. Remember to always focus on specific details about the text rather than broad or general claims about your topic. Format your in-text citations and Works Cited properly.

If you receive a C (64-67) or lower, that means your assignment contains some extensive problems with its quality of ideas, organization of ideas in sentences/paragraphs, and overall  sentence development. Additionally, your assignment does not seem to have a good grasp of the assignment expectations.

Leave a Reply