English 550

Romantic Period


First Paper Assignment.


Due Friday, February 10 as file attachment via email to morillo@ncsu.edu

4-5 pages, double-spaced typed/printed text.

Standard margins.

If you have any other format questions, ask me.


Pick one:


1) Choose any one paragraph from the prose works we’ve read thus far that best captures a critical problem or issue that you consider especially relevant to interpreting the longer selection in which the passage appears. Consider the language of your chosen passage in as much detail as possible, and then write a brief essay in which you explain what problem or issue is at stake, and how the particular details of the language in the passage work to make the passage significant.

2) Choose any of the complete shorter poems we’ve read thus far and produce a brief reading of the poem, paying attention to the nuances of language, metrics, anything that you feel is most relevant to discuss and necessary to interpret. If you choose a Blake poem be sure to also look at the illuminated images for it in the Blake Archive, and incorporate something about the visual image's relationship to the text as part of your reading.

This assignment calls upon you to practice your skills in close- reading, but you may bring in other opinion as long as you footnote any sources, explicate the passage or poem sufficiently in your own terms, and keep other opinions subordinate to your own. You do not, however, have to consult any text beyond your chosen paragraph or poem. Even though close-reading skills are sometimes associated with New Critical attitudes, you are not obliged to find some ideal of harmony or unity between your passage as microcosm and the whole text, or author’s oeuvre, as macrocosm.  You may wish to work out a passage that instead reveals some interesting disruption of structure, complication of apparent theme or moral, or contradiction between apparent authorial intent and textual meaning as you understand it. Pay particular attention to the sentence-level details of image, tone, syntax, word choice etc.

Choice of passage and issue is completely up to you, but it needs to be small enough and significant enough to warrant 4-5 pages of discussion. If you pick a passage or poem that we have discussed in some detail in class you are obliged to bring out something personal and original in your reading.


Feel free to discuss your developing ideas with me.

ENG 550