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ENC 1102
Instructor: Natasha Olivera Short Story Analysis - ENC 1102
Essay Assignment #1: Analyzing Fiction

Your first essay assignment is designed to develop your analytical and critical skills (as applied to both reading and writing), to help you become more sensitive consumers and users of language, and to teach you about basic critical elements of literary texts (plot, setting, characterization, point of view, theme).

Your goal for this assignment is to write a closed-form essay that offers an interpretation of one of the short stories in Ana Menendez’s In Cuba I was a German Shepherd. Your rhetorical purpose is two-fold: you are explaining your way of reading some aspect of the text, but you are also persuading your readers that your thesis (your interpretation) is valid. To help develop a topic for this essay you will be answering “Task Log” prompts which will be included in your portfolio. You audience will be ENC 1102 students in your class, therefore, you can assume that they have read the story.

To arrive at the final stage of this essay we will go through a variety of steps together as a class, including journal entries and engaging discussions, so there is no need for you to feel intimidated by the assignment. You are not being asked for a definitive reading of the text; that would never be possible. We all interpret differently; therefore, feel free to play with ideas, to engage in a dialogue with the story’s author, and to exercise your analytical muscles.

As I read your essay, I will consider following:
  • Does the essay show good knowledge of the literary text and literary elements taught in class?
  • Is the thesis arguable and clearly stated? Is it built around a problematic and significant interpretive question? Does it help the readers gain a new understanding of the story?
  • Does the body of the text develop and adequately support the thesis? Are conventions of closed form prose followed? Is the organization clear and logical?
  • Does the writer use detailed information from the story to support her claims? Does she make effective choices in regard to using summary, paraphrase, and direct quotations? Does the paper follow MLA guidelines?
  • Does the writer show awareness of audience needs? Does he anticipate and work to answer potential reader questions?
  • Is the essay well-written stylistically, grammatically, and mechanically?

Requirements: Your final essay should be double-spaced, no less than 6 pages, titled, 12pt Times New Roman, and formatted according to MLA style. You will submit the essay in a portfolio folder that will include “task log” entries, peer reviewed drafts, writing assignments or activities pertaining to this essay, peer reviews with comments, and a typed self-evaluation.

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