Final Work and Final Portfolio

Your final portfolio in ENG 106 is due in class on Wednesday, May 4th. Please assemble the following documents in a pocket folder (labeled with your name):

  • A self-reflection letter (“Dear Megan”) that introduces me to the work in your portfolio. As you read over your two literary analyses (and multiple drafts) and your weekly reading response blog posts, what do you notice? What did you discover in this class? What did you learn about the texts you wrote about? I recommend writing this last (after you’ve read and revised everything else). 2-3 pages (double-spaced)
  • Final revised Literary Analysis #2
    •  D/2 (with my comments)
    •  D/1 (with my comments)
    • Final revised Literary Analysis #2 also needs to be uploaded to Blackboard (this is for final assessment purposes). You’ll find Chalk & Wire via your Blackboard portal/ENG 106 course/ course content/ Chalk and Wire/Literary Analysis. You’ll need to upload your final essay as a file, choose an “assessor” (that’s me!), and click submit. Here’s information on what Chalk & Wire is and how to access it:
      • What is C&W?
      • Here are some FAQs for students about C&W.
      • Bring it with you on a flashdrive or email and I can show you how to upload it in the computer classroom if you have questions.
  • Final Literary Analysis #1 (with grade/comments)
    •  D/1 (with my comments)
  • Final Blog tally of weekly reading responses and peer comments (use the same form  you used at mid-term!)


  • Optional: One more revision of Literary Analysis #1: if you chose to revise this essay, please include details about what you revised and why in your self-reflection letter.

***Please note: late portfolios will not be accepted.

Scheduled exam period: Friday, May 6th  @ 10:15 in A 303. Pick up final portfolio!


Post-Workshop Work

Please write me a “Dear Megan” letter on the back of your draft:

  • What parts of this draft were effective/interesting?
  • What are you still missing?
  • What specific suggestions did you receive from your readers today?
  • What did you notice in your peers’ drafts that you found especially effective?
  • What new scenes/moments/passages will you work with for your next draft?
  • Do you have any questions or concerns for me?

Literary Analysis #2

Choose either Richard Wright’s Black Boy: An American Hunger or Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.

Working with the brainstorming sheet I distributed in class on Wednesday, focus your first draft around one of the questions. If you’ve got another question or angle, you may work with that (but make it clear what it is). Here’s what needs to be in this first draft (due in class Monday, 4/18):

  • evidence of a reader (you!) who’s deeply familiar with the text
  • specific textual examples: for each passage or quote be sure to provide some context for your readers, an analysis of what the passage shows and why it’s important (be sure to include page numbers for all quotes)
  • evidence of working with a specific question or focus
  • assume that your readers (your classmates and me) are familiar with the text, so you don’t need to provide a great deal of summary or plot explanation. Do consider, however, that we may not be as familiar with the focus you’re writing about and so you’ll need to guide us through the text as you examine and analyze specific passages
  • practice both “in-text” citations and “block” quotes
  • 4-5 pages,  double-spaced
  • draft should invite readers to think in new ways about the autobiography and to arrive at a new understanding
  • bring 3 printed copies to class for a small-group workshop
  • late drafts will not be accepted or counted

Classmates who are writing about Black Boy: Adil, Baraa, Haley, Sabrina, Conor, Tyquan, Chaz

Classmates who are writing about Fun  Home: Justin, Cristina, Mike, Connor, Rahilah, Ralph, Emily, Danny, Jennie

References for Reading Fun Home

Here’s a video with Alison Bechdel where she describes her creative and composing process (and how much she relied on research and Google!):

And here‘s an interview with Bechdel.

For more on the myth of Daedalus and Icarus read here. And here’s an image of the fabled labyrinth that held the minotaur (the one that Daedalus designed and then was held captive in himself).

Literary references to: Albert Camus, F.Scott Fitzgerald (and his The Great Gatsby),Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time; Homer’s The Odyssey; James Joyce’s Ulysses (which is the Latin name for Odysseus); Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Definitions of key terms:

Here’s a glossary of terms to use when discussing the layout of comics/graphic memoirs.


For more on the famous 1969 Stonewall Riot read here.

For more on the early 1970s, President Nixon, and the Watergate Scandal read here.

Reading Richard Wright

Options for black masculinity

  • (200): quote about humanity (criminal/second-class citizen)
  • Wright wants self-worth
  • Griggs trying to teach Wright how to conform (184)
  • His father, Uncle Tom, the man w/o fingers, his grandfather, Griggs, Uncle Hoskins, Bob

Quest for authenticity vs. playing a role

  • Valedictorian speech (ch. 8): “going to do things my way”
  • Griggs

Realities of Jim Crow and the threat of white violence

  • (148)–working for white families–learning the “white world”
  • (179)–woman is beaten
  • white boys in truck/white police officer

Alienation and Isolation



Revised Literary Analysis

Here are the elements I will be reading for in your final revised literary analysis:

  • Has a specific focus around a compelling question. (For example, “How does Frederick Douglass use scripture in his text?” “What forms of resistance does Zitkala-Sa engage in…and what’s interesting about those?”
  • Provides textual evidence (quotes from primary source) to support claims. Textual evidence  includes both “in-text” citations and block quotes.
  • Demonstrates close reading of specific textual passages that address the context of the passage, what it’s saying, what the key ideas are, and why it’s important.
  • Provides deeper or new insights about the primary text.  This means that you (as the writer) teach readers something new or interesting about the primary text. You’ve invited us to see an aspect of the text in a new or different way.
  • Incorporates an idea from the Smith and Watson chapters: either a key idea from autobiography OR one specific “tool” from their “tool kit.” Be sure to define and explain the terms you’re working with .
  • Arrives at a thesis or “argument” about the compelling question. Moves beyond the obvious to arrive at an important discovery about your focus and compelling question.
  • Has a title, uses MLA documentation style, includes page numbers (both in the essay and for all quotes), 5 pages.

Include revised essay, first draft, and blog tally in one pocket folder. You’ll find a pdf of a handy-dandy blog grid you can print and fill out on the syllabus page of this blog! Due in class on Monday, March 14th.  No late work will be accepted.

Reading Richard Wright

Here’s some initial information to guide your reading of Black Boy:

  • A general reference guide to Wright can be found here.
  • You’ll want to (re)familiarize yourself with Jim Crow laws  and what that meant. And know that they were in effect from 1864 (the end of the Civil War) until 1965 (the Civil Rights movement). Here‘s a rich resource page from PBS. Here‘s a great introduction courtesy of the Jim Crow Museum hosted by Ferris State University. Here‘s a list of the actual laws verbatim.
  • The online journal Slate recently published Tuskegee Institution’s “Lynching Map” that tracks lynchings across the nation between 1900-1931: “Georgia led the lynching tally, with Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, and Arkansas rounding out the top seven worst offenders.”
  • You’ll also want to know about the 1954 landmark court case “Brown vs. Board of Education” which declared “separate but equal” unconstitutional for public schools.

Blog Post #4: Due by noon Friday

For this week’s blog post, please choose 1-2  important quotes from your primary text (Douglass or Zitkala-Sa) that you didn’t write about in your first draft, but that connect to the topic and question  you’re writing about. Provide a bit of context about what this quote is connected to, what is happening in this passage, how you’re reading it (what stands out, what is significant to pay attention to),  and why it’s important.  You might also find yourself raising questions about this passage or noticing patterns or ideas that confuse you.

The Role of Literature

I wanted to share with a recent essay about the work that literature can do in the world by Stanford English professor Shelley Fisher Fishkin (she goes on to mention Frederick Douglass):

We live in a nation plagued by historical amnesia, by a tendency to sanitize troubling chapters of the past. Ironies that should be front and center in our national memory are often airbrushed out of the history books in our nation’s classrooms — like the fact that America was “founded” by genocidal robbers on land stolen from the people who were there before them. Or that we are a nation established by slaveholders on principles of individual liberty. Or that after the Civil War, America effectively re-enslaved the freed slaves for the next hundred years through sharecropping, lynching, and the convict-lease system.

Literary Analysis #1

The first formal writing assignment in ENG 106 is a literary analysis essay. In English studies we work closely with texts to better understand how the text works and what work the text does.  Our primary focus of study and analysis then is on specific passages from the particular text(s) we’re examining. Let’s break this down a bit more:

A literary analysis essay is an attempt to evaluate and understand the work of an author, either a single work or an entire body of work. Literary criticism is a description, analysis, evaluation, or interpretation of a particular literary work or an author’s writings as a whole. – See more at:

Literary: How is the text put together? What important observations can you make as far as themes, ideas, arguments, style, language? Often this involves careful examination of character, plot, setting, etc. However, in reading autobiography we would focus more on the writer’s strategies, main ideas/themes/arguments, the role of reading, etc.


  • How the various components of an individual work relate to each other.
  • How two separate literary works deal with similar concepts or forms.
  • How concepts and forms in literary works relate to larger aesthetic, political, social, economic, or religious contexts.

A literary analysis is not a summary of plot. Nor is it an attempt to address everything in a text, but rather it’s a close focus on one issue/idea/theme. Often they require working with secondary sources (what other scholars have said about a text), but for our purposes we’re only going to work with the text (as your primary document) and the xeroxed chapters from Smith and Watson’s Reading Autobiography. A literary analysis might focus on:

  • Recurring or important imagery or symbolism
  • Central themes or main ideas
  • Style or language
  • Form or structure of text
  • Representation of gender, class, race, power

For your first literary analysis choose to work closely with either Narrative of Frederick Douglass or the collection of autobiographical essays by Zitkala Sa.  Re-read your blog posts and your in-class freewriting. Pay close attention to the what you’ve been noticing as you’ve read. What has disturbed your or confused you? What has resonated with you?  What questions interest you? Ultimately, a literary analysis is a reader’s way to think about a text in a more focused and sustained manner by writing about it. (You’re writing your way towards attempting to answer the question(s) you’ve posed about this text!) Your job as the writer is to make an argument about the text–form a persuasive interpretation of some element of the text–by citing specific textual passages as evidence for your claims.

Draft #1: Due Wednesday, February 17th.  4-5 pages, double-spaced, with specific textual passages; working through an idea or reading to develop an “argument” about how the text works or what work the text does.

Please print out 3 copies and bring them to class for a small group workshop.