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CHL137 Essay Assignment Directions, format, due dates and pre-writing activities Draft due for workshop: April 14

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CHL137 Essay Assignment

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Chl137 essay assignment l.jpg

CHL137 Essay Assignment

Directions, format, due dates and

pre-writing activities


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Draft due for workshop: April 14

  • Policy for workshop: If you are in class, if you have a typed 4-page draft with you to share with your workshop group, and if you actively and productively participate in the writing workshop, you will earn 20 extra points toward your quiz grade. If all these requirements are not met (do not attempt, for example, to email a draft to me because you cannot come to class) you will not earn the extra points, but your grade will not be lowered. In other words, workshop participation = extra credit.


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Revision of draft due: April 16

  • Turn in only the 4-page, revised and edited essay without draft or notes.

  • I will accept late papers, however late papers will lose 10 points for every working day (M-F) they are late.


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Essay Format:

  • 4 typed double-spaced pages.

  • 12 point Arial type, with 1-inch margins

  • Full name in the top left-hand corner, double-space then center the essay’s title, and then double space again to begin the essay. Paragraphs are indented, double-spaced, and there are no extra spaces between paragraphs.

  • All quotes from the HP books or any other sources must be correctly cited using MLA format.


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The Assignment:

  • Write about one specific theme, symbol, allusion, or issue in the HP novels of your choosing. Your essay should develop a specific and focused thesis, which asserts your interpretation using evidence from the novels. We will spend the next few days doing various pre-writing activities in class.


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1. Write about one specific theme, symbol, allusion, or issue in the HP novels of your choosing.

2. Your essay should develop a specific and focused thesis, which asserts your interpretation using evidence from the novels.

Let’s focus on these a bit:


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Get into groups of 4 or 5

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas

What themes, symbols, allusions, and issues we’ve covered during the course of the term would make an interesting topic for an essay?


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Step 2: from topic to thesis

  • A topic is not a thesis.

  • A thesis is a point, an argument, an interpretation. It is specific and focused. It must be supported with evidence. It is not obvious. It is something others might disagree with, which means your essay is a means of convincing your reader.


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This is an essay about friendship in the HP books.

This is an essay about the importance of friendship and loyalty in the HP books.

Ron, Hermione and Harry are loyal friends.

Harry and Hermione’s close and long-term friendship is significant because it demonstrates to younger readers how boys and girls can develop strong friendships.

Not a thesis / thesis


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Harry Potter and his friends are like Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table because they are loyal, trustworthy, and clean.

The story of Severus Snape and Lily Potter follows the pattern of medieval tales of courtly love because Snape loves her from afar, is never able to act upon his love, suffers for his love, and becomes a better, more noble man because of it. As is the case with the medieval romance, this rarified relationship is based in Christian ideals of self-denial, punishment, and redemption.

Not a thesis / thesis


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The HP novels are Christian because good triumphs over evil.

While some groups claim the HP books are anti-Christian, the books are actually filled with direct and indirect allusions to the Bible and to Christian terms and themes.

Not a thesis / thesis


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All the girls and women in all the HP books are stereotypes.

The female teachers at Hogwarts are often depicted as stereotypes and might leave young readers with the impression that librarians are humorless and strict teachers are spinsters.

Not a thesis / thesis


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People who think girls in the HP books are stereotypes are femi-nazis who need to stop reading into these books so much and just get a life.

Some critics argue that Mrs. Weasley is a stereoptype because she is a stay-at-home mother. This argument assumes that being a stay-at-home mother is a negative stereotype. I believe, however, that Molly Weasley is a positive role model precisely because she is a loving and nurturing mother of seven children, a demanding job we should value and not demean.

Not a thesis / Thesis


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Fluffy is based on the mythological creature Cerberus. Here’s two pages of plot summary of the myth of Cerberus from Wikipedia followed by summary of Fluffy in HPSS.

J. K. Rowling uses the mytholgical creature Cerebus as a model for Fluffy for symbolic purposes: Both Cerberus and Fluffy guard an Underworld, a symbolic land of the dead the hero must enter as a part of his journey . . .

Not a thesis / thesis


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Deatheaters are prejudiced against Muggles and wizards from Muggle families.

The Deatheaters are a metaphor for groups like the KKK or the Nazis, which demonstrates that J. K. Rowling attempted to write a series of books with an anti-racist message.

Not a thesis / thesis


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A counter argument . . .

  • “Rowling intends to teach children that what matters is one’s character, not color, pedigree, or wealth. However, her radical presentation of social issues is hindered by ‘utter traditionalism.’ . . . Because of Rowling’s faithfulness to the fairy tale, she often contradicts herself” (Ostry 90).


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Another one . . .

  • On the surface, HP argues against racism by using metaphors for race and racism like Muggles and Magical Races. However, the novels ultimately contradict this message of tolerance by depicting a Wizarding world that is almost exclusively white.


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Back to group work . . .

2. Write a working thesis:

Individually, write a working thesis (“working” means it is not permanent -- just a starting place).

Share the thesis with your group to get feedback. Does it meet the criteria we just discussed? How can you refine it, narrow it down further, make it more focused?

Develop a thesis for your paper by the time class is over.


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Next Class . . .

  • Gathering evidence

  • Citing quotes

  • Developing an outline, etc.


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