SSEN 270: Military Literature Short Story Essay
Analysis of Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War Stories
LENGTH 750-1000 words Papers that do not meet the minimum requirement will receive a failing grade. In addition, your essay should not exceed the 1000 words by much!
GRADE This essay is worth 150 points (or 15% of your final grade in the course). It will offer me an opportunity to see how you write about literature and for you to learn about my grading and expectations. Please let me know if you have any questions!
MLA FORMAT All essays must be formatted according to MLA guidelines. While most of your other courses will use APA, that particular format is not geared to writing about literature and would cause confusion if we were to use it. MLA is user-friendly and you can search online for the Purdue OWL website where you can find many helpful recommendations for writing a paper in MLA format. Please follow these recommendations and ask if you need help with any of these issues.
WORKS CITED Always provide a Works Cited page for anything you write for me. I’ve given you an example of an entry from Bierce’s Civil War Stories. Note that, if applicable, your ENTIRE Works Cited page should be double spaced and the second and subsequent lines of each entry indented.
Bierce, Ambrose. “Chickamauga.” Civil War Stories. Ed. Candace Ward. Mineola, NY: Dover,
PLAGIARISM There are a lot of essays, etc. available on the internet about Bierce’s writing. Do not be tempted to use any of them! Remember that all work submitted in this class must be your own and written originally for this class. Be sure that any ideas, quotations, or other kinds of information that you use from another person or source are correctly documented. The handbook of Norwich Student Rules and Regulations notes that “the use of words, ideas, concepts, or work of another without proper acknowledgment, constitutes plagiarism. […] In any case where a student is found to have used plagiarized material, an academic penalty will be assessed,
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since even the unintentional use of plagiarized material violates the standards of acceptable academic performance.” All instances of plagiarism and other kinds of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Integrity Committee. If you have any questions about these policies, please ask me in advance; I will be happy to help you.
TOPICS You can select to write about any story in Civil War Stories, even one we did not read together in class. Given the length of this paper, keep your focus very narrow and formulate an argumentative thesis about a particular aspect of the story. Be sure to avoid descriptive statements such as “Bierce uses the perspective of a young child in ‘Chickamauga.’” Rather, the following alternatives would be more effective: Bierce uses the perspective of a young child in “Chickamauga” because… (fill in the blank with a compelling argument) OR Bierce uses the perspective of a young child in “Chickamauga” in order to demonstrate… (fill in the blank with a compelling argument), OR As a result of using the perspective of a young child in “Chickamauga” Bierce is able to… (fill in the blank with a compelling argument).
Be sure the body paragraphs (and there should be more than one!) support the thesis through a close reading of the text, which means that you must quote the story directly (and correctly!) at least four times in your essay. Be sure that your discussion remains focused on your specific argument throughout the course of the essay. Please note that you ARE NOT being asked to use any secondary sources in this essay. You are responding with a close reading of a story based on your ideas. You will use the story itself as evidence to back up your argument.
You should end with a conclusion that avoids summarizing your essay. Focus instead on showing the ground covered in your discussion.
MISCELLANEOUS Please remember the following when writing about literature:
• You use the present tense. Here is an example: In “Chickamauga” the young boy wanders through the woods.
• If you want to discuss the Civil War itself (a historical topic), you use the past tense. Here is an example: During the Civil War, Ambrose Bierce fought for the Union.
• Do NOT use “I” or “you” in an essay. You should be using appropriate academic language, avoiding slang and familiar language.
• You should always introduce the author and text you are going to be discussing in your introduction.
• After you have introduced the author the first time (using the author’s full name), you should then refer to the author by last name.
• The thesis should be proposed in the introduction. • All short stories are in quotation marks, NOT in italics or underlined.
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• Any time you quote the story, you must include a parenthetical citation in which you put the author’s last name and the page number.
• Ensure that every body paragraph has a clear topic sentence that structures the paragraph and supports the essay’s thesis.
• Please let me know if you have any questions or need assistance!
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