Thesis paper / Final Essay

(1500-2500 words, which is usually about 6-10 typed, double-spaced pages)

Your thesis paper should make a claim in relationship to value. You do not need to answer the big question (How do we know the Good from the Bad?) in a global or eternal sense. But you should frame a position you want to prove.. This could be a judgment about how value has changed, or how value has not changed, or how the ways evaluation has changed is a good thing, etc.

You should address some specific literary / art examples. You may focus on a single important work, or you can look at several across time if that works for your argument.

You could choose a more thematic or concept-based focus. Does E-lit continue the experimentalism of Cage and Duchamp? Can art still challenge and provoke as it did in 1917? Does computation and AI spell the end to good literature? etc.

You should make significant use of at least one critical source (such as Eagleton). This means you will quote and discuss or apply the source, probably in more than one paragraph; the goal is to combine your thinking with that of others and to integrate this into your overall argument.

Topic Intro

Post a paragraph summary in the OneDrive Class Notebook - Fri 11/13?

  1. Please include a working title
  2. Your proposal must make a clear, arguable claim about value.
  3. Your proposal should allude to specific criteria.


Compose a brief proposal; upload to Class Notebook Due Sun 11/15 by 8pm

The proposal is a chance for you to plan your approach and get some feedback before you begin drafting. It can be difficult to anticipate everything you will address before you begin drafting. Your proposal must make a clear, arguable claim about value; it should allude to specific criteria.


  • Name
  • Date
  • Working Title
  • Revised introductory paragraph
  • Draft Thesis Statement (underlined; not required to be in the first paragraph
  • List of works discussed (critical and/or creative)
  • Outline of key points (use bullets, roman numerals, etc.)

Complete Rough Draft

(2 copies for class); paper swap DUE Thurs 11/19

Revised (and rough) Draft

to Prof; DUE on or before 11/30 via OneNote class notebook.

Conferences via Zoom

Individual, by sign-up, 12/1 - 12/3

Final draft

(with revision, rough draft, peer-edited drafts, and cover letter) - Due one week after your conference

Relevant course objectives:

1. Write well-argued essays using purposefully selected and organized textual evidence from literary texts

2. Develop higher order reasoning skills by synthesizing ideas from several points of view and from multiple texts – higher order reasoning skills must be derived from the selection and organization of specific examples, particularly through attention to patterns of thought that emerge from extensive and thoughtful quotations from course texts

These papers will go through a peer-editing process and at least one revision before being submitted for my evaluation. During our conference, we will discuss revision strategies. You must revise your draft after our conference, and your revisions should be purposeful and effective. Content, Organization, Mechanics and Revision are equally weighted. You will also compose a “Revision Cover Letter” to be submitted with the final version of the Essay. This one-page, single-spaced document addressed to me will narrate how you addressed your professors’ and classmates' suggestions for improving the final product. You must also include multiple, marked-up drafts showing your revision process for any revision credit (the absence of which would reduce your final essay grade by one quarter).


Style - MLA style header, with title centered, followed by introductory paragraph(s). Sources - quote and paraphrase appropriately from 2 or more course texts. Use MLA style in-text citation and a Works Cited page at the end to credit sources.


1. How many sources should I use?

This is not a research paper. You should draw on two or more class readings. You may quote, paraphrase or summarize other sources if needed. But you should not think of this as a research paper where a certain number of sources are required. Rather (see course objective 1 above) the focus should be on your argument and your use of sources to explore your ideas. It is crucial that you integrate your sources into the flow of your own argument.

3. Is “I” O.K.?

“I” is O.K. (But remember, any writing move loses its effectiveness if it becomes repetitive. In an argumentative, persuasive, or evaluative essay, just about everything you write could be prefaced with “In my opinion, …” or “I believe….” So be judicious. )

4. How do I address the Core B question?

Don't try to resolve the abstract question of the good and bad in a universal sense; rather, frame an argumentative claim in specific terms. For instance, write about the value of one or a few works from the Electronic Literature Collection of Against Expression. That is, use an example or case study, ex.: Shelly Jackson's “My Body” demonstrates how a born-digital text can achieve recognized literary values of expressiveness, audience engagement, and artful use of language by exploiting the unique dimensions of the hypertext format.

Alternatively, you can form a broader claim about a specific mode/genre of E-lit or conceptual writing. But your approach should be persuasive and your purpose should include evaluation. There are many options here. For instance, you don't have to argue that hypertext is a superior literary form to the novel; you could, instead, argue that teaching hyperext writing would be useful for H.S. creative writers. Or you could argue that good interactive fiction has value in encouraging critical thinking – i.e. it's a “good” teaching tool, even if you don't want to argue it's great art, etc.

5. How many sources should I use?

I recommend at least one critical source (Goldsmith, Hernstein Smith, Greenblatt, Cage, etc.) and one creative work. I strongly discourage essays from taking on more than two literary examples or more than two or three critical sources. Depth is more valued than breadth.