Home » Assignments and Grading

Assignments and Grading

Course Requirements

Weekly Writing: 15%

Discussion Lead and Participation: 15% 

Review Essay: 10%

Essay 1 (Analysis Essay): 10%

Essay 2 (Comparative Essay): 15%

Essay 3 (Research Essay): 30% 

Oral Presentation on Final Paper: 5%

Weekly Writing 

Twice a week, each of you will comment on one of the blog prompts for the day, that I will post on the website.

  • I will have multiple prompts each day. You only have to comment in response to one of them. You choose which one.
  • The comments should be about 150 words each + one quote you would like to discuss from the text/texts you have chosen.
  • Do not simply repeat/paraphrase what your classmates have already said.
  • Comment on the blog prompt BEFORE class begins, so that you have thoughts you might offer up to the class. 
  • In general, these comments must document your critical engagement with the texts and your peers’ ideas about the texts. While your opinion and personal connections to the themes may come up in your responses, please remember that they should not be a diary entry, a review, or an opinion piece (“I liked this” or “I didn’t like this”).

Because this assignment is not a formal paper, you do not have to argue a thesis each week, but you should pursue an idea or several based on the texts we encounter. While I will give you writing prompts for each day, your engagement might present itself in a variety of ways, such as in the form of observations, questions, or teasing out the implications of particular quotes, language, or moments from the texts. Ideally, you will extend these to larger connections between other texts and ideas we come across in this course. The assignment is intended not only to facilitate class discussion, but to ensure active reading and to help you practice for and to come up with ideas for the formal essay assignments.

Please note that if you are discussion lead, however, you don’t have to comment on the blog prompt for that day. Instead you will make a blog post. (Refer to “Discussion Lead” section below for more details).

Discussion Lead and Participation

**You must participate in class. These are crucial mechanisms for establishing trust and solidarity in the classroom. This is a requirement and not a request. But the point isn’t disciplinary; to talk is to develop the ability to articulate your thoughts clearly and lucidly, to share ideas and wonder about things together, and to develop solidarity and collaborative skills**

You must complete all the reading before class. Class participation may take many forms: question, answer, comment, response. An important goal of the course is to cultivate a respectful classroom environment in which to explore your ideas. If your participation in class discussion in any way monopolizes the conversation or silences or excludes your classmates, it will work against your participation grade. I grade participation in terms of effort, preparedness, and courtesy. 

In discussions and interactions with me and with each other, I expect ethical participation. The learning and writing will be collaborative, and I expect you to be respectful of everyone else in the room. We must all be not only respectful, but actively engaged—academically and otherwise—in the range of ethnicities, races, gender expressions, sexual orientations, social classes, castes, religious beliefs and nationalities that the classroom represents. I would thus urge you to consider your choice of language and tone in order to avoid universalizing and exclusionary tendencies, such as using ‘they’ or ‘s/he’ instead of a universal ‘he’.

  • Being the discussion lead means you have to present on a reading for that day. You get to pick which reading. There will be a sign up sheet.
  • Your job as a discussion lead is essentially to “teach” that reading.
  • Please make sure you do the following:
    • Pick a single text/a short section or chapter of a longer text, to present on. 
      • Prepare 2-3 discussion questions (different from my writing prompts that day) and a very short analysis of the section/text you’re presenting on (total ~300 words) of the reading.
      • You will write this in the form of a blog post (check the category box “Discussion Lead” when you post it to the website).
      • I will assume everyone has done the reading, so I don’t want merely a summary of the text’s content.
      • This will count as your comments for the day so if you are discussion lead on a given day, you do not have to also comment on my blog prompts that day.
    • I would like you to look at the context–cultural, historical, and otherwise of both the text and the author. Look at the medium of the text–what does a comic/essay/film say that you couldn’t through a different medium? How does it say it? Feel free to refer to other works by the author/creator. Pick specific moments/quotes and closely read them. 
    • You will lead the class in a discussion of the questions you’ve formulated. You have to speak about your blog post + engage the others in a discussion of the questions you’ve formulated. Total time you have to speak: 10-15 minutes.
    • More than one person may pick a particular reading. More than one person can present on any day.


You will physically attend a theatrical or musical event or art installation, or visit a museum/library/place of interest that you can relate—in an interesting/creative/relevant way—to one or more readings from our course. Within one week of the event you attend, you will write a 2 double spaced page review, including some reference to at least one of our readings that you can relate to the event/installation/place. This can happen at any point in the semester. Remember this one is worth 10% of your grade. THIS TRIP, AND THEREFORE THIS ASSIGNMENT HAS TO BE SCHEDULED BY YOU. Do not leave it until the very end of the semester. You are responsible for figuring out when in the semester you want to do this. Please email me once you have decided where you will go/what you will see, and tell me when you will submit the 2 page assignment. I will hold you to your own deadlines.  

Essay 1 (Analysis Essay)

The first essay we’ll work on is an analysis of a text. It’s very likely that you’ve had to write this style of essay in English 2100/2150 or its equivalent. For our purposes, we’ll look specifically at how the form of a piece of literature informs its content, as we’ve been doing in class since the start of the term. You may choose any text from the periods we’ve discussed/a different work by an author we’ve read, but NOT any of the texts that we have already discussed. You will receive a detailed assignment sheet, do not worry.

Word Limit: 1000+ words.

Essay 2 (Comparative Essay)

In the second essay, you will write a brief paper comparing or contrasting some aspects of two texts we have or will read in this course. You may choose to analyze how the texts engage a similar theme, or you might write about how they use some feature of style, such as tone, figurative language (metaphor, simile, or symbolism), imagery, character development, or setting, and so on to produce certain effects. Detailed assignment sheet to follow. Start thinking of creative and intelligent pairings as you look over the syllabus.

Word Limit: 1500+ words.

Essay 3 (Research Essay)

In this final essay, you will have to pick your own literary/political theme, topic, and sub-topic to write about. It has to be a text outside the readings in the syllabus. You have to come up with the text or texts you want to research as well as the research question. You will have to read and synthesize secondary sources and incorporate them into your paper. Again, you will receive a detailed assignment sheet, and the writing will be scaffolded.

Word Limit: 2000+ words.

Oral Presentation on Final Paper

By this time in the semester, you should have written your final paper already. This is a 3-4 minute oral presentation (you can have some images/slides prepared) to tell the story of your research to your classmates effectively, concisely, and in an engaging manner. It will require distilling the core of your argument into a very brief and lucid presentation, while providing enough background and context to those who don’t know the first thing about what your paper is about—a very important skill. 


For the daily comments/discussion lead blog posts, you will not receive a letter grade from me. I will be keeping track of your grades with a check/check plus/check minus. Around mid-semester, I will let you know how you are doing in the class overall and assign you a letter grade. You will get letter grades and comments for your major assignments.

I grade on effort, so there is no perfect A grade assignment in my class. If you have diligently done your drafts, worked on all the feedback, and participated robustly in comments and as discussion lead, you will get an A.

For some assignments, you will self-assess. This means you will critically evaluate your own paper and give yourself a grade based on the assignment sheet criteria. I find that students rarely inflate their own grades. In fact, they often sell themselves short and I increase their grade when that happens. This process of self-assessment allows the focus to remain on the feedback and an understanding of your own process of learning, rather than the grades

  B+   87-89 C+   77-79 D+   67-69
A   93-100 B     83-86 C     73-76 D     60-66
A-  90-92 B-    80-82 C-    70-72 F      Below 60

Note: All papers have word counts. Word counts are not suggestions. They are requirements. If the word count is not met; then penalties will be rendered. These assignments are shorter than what is usually expected, so I would like you to respect the word limits. You can write more than what is suggested, if you like. But not too much more. 10% above the word limit is usually standard.


Library OneSearch

Enter your search term and click Search to find an item in the CUNY catalog.

September 2023

Recent Comments

    Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

    Header Image by Ann Paterson, CC-BY 2.0

    Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

    Need help with the Commons? Visit our
    help page
    Send us a message