In this class, we have explored popular fiction in several genres. We have also examined universal themes such as sacrifice, appearance versus reality, goodness, and perseverance as they are portrayed in literature. We have taken a close look at the literary devices used to illustrate those themes in multiple texts. Throughout this class, we have also dug deeper into the question of why books are popular and whether it is tied to their themes, societal concerns, and/or events.
The final project for this course is the creation of a thesis-driven literary analysis paper. The paper should be a complete, polished artifact containing all of the critical elements outlined in the final project prompt and rubric. It should reflect the incorporation of feedback gained throughout the course from your peers and your instructor in the short papers and two milestone assignments submitted in Modules Three and Five. The final paper will be submitted in Module Seven.
In this assignment, you will write an analytical essay that demonstrates your mastery of the following course outcomes:
⦁ Analyze the themes utilized in popular and contemporary genre fiction
⦁ Connect trends in contemporary and popular fiction to current societal events, which influence audience consumption
⦁ Utilize literary and cultural analysis to interpret common themes found in popular and contemporary fiction
⦁ Create analytical works that focus on common themes found in popular fiction and their connection to commercial success
Imagine that the Literature Department at SNHU is creating a journal of critical literary studies. The editors of the journal have issued a call for papers for a special issue on contemporary and popular fiction. Specifically, the editors are looking for critical essays that compare and contrast a theme that reflects trends in contemporary literature and the connection to the commercial success of those works. Contributors are encouraged to consider the question of why certain books become popular. Why do these works resonate with so many people? Is the commercial success of these works connected to concerns or issues in our everyday lives? Are their themes universal and/or complex? Or, do they focus on themes or events of particular concern within our current society?
Prepare a 5–7 page submission to this journal. Your essay should provide a literary analysis of two selected popular works of contemporary fiction, which you have read in this course. Select 1–2 literary devices (symbol, metaphor, imagery, etc.) to illustrate that theme in both novels. (See the complete list of literary devices on this website.) Your goal is to create a thesis that makes a claim about your chosen theme and literary device. Here is a sample thesis on another topic and work:
In Ghost Singer, Anna Lee Walters uses ghosts, particularly the figure of the naked Indian man, to record and recover the violent and erased histories of Native Americans; similarly, in Donald Duk, Frank Chin uses ghosts to haunt the dreams of Donald Duk to help reestablish Chinese traditions and make the history of Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Americans visible. Thus, the theme of cultural haunting in Donald Duk and Ghost Singer becomes a reconstructive agent, functioning as a means of cultural translation—a vehicle for the reestablishment of history and tradition.
As you compare and contrast the theme in both works, discuss how the theme reflects trends in contemporary literature and/or current societal events. Also, consider the connection of this common theme to the commercial success of the novels. For example, you might consider how Suzanne Collins uses televised interviews in The Hunger Games and Gillian Flynn uses Amy’s false diary assignments in Gone Girl to illustrate the theme of appearance versus reality. As you write your paper, analyze specific passages and include concrete examples to support your interpretation of the literary device and theme.
The following critical elements must be included in your essay:
Craft the Introduction to Your Essay
⦁ Theme and Novel Introduction: Introduce your two novels and the theme, which is present in both works. Discuss why this theme was
⦁ Thesis Statement: Write a clear thesis statement indicating how you will compare and contrast the way in which each book addresses this
theme. Include your general thoughts about whether this adds to or detracts from the book’s popularity.
Craft the Body of Your Essay
A. Literary Analysis: The paper must analyze at least one specific literary device—such as the use of plot or imagery in the texts. If you choose to
analyze the plot, for example, do not merely summarize the texts. Thoroughly analyze the chosen literary device, as it relates to central theme,
across multiple texts. In other words, the paper should highlight your literary analysis skills.
⦁ Compare and Contrast: The paper must compare and contrast the use of the chosen literary element(s) between the two texts. Specifically,
how does each author use the chosen element(s) to illuminate a theme? In what ways are the authors’ uses of the literary device(s) similar? In
what ways do they differ? Explain how the literary device(s) and/or theme add to or detract from the book’s popularity.
⦁ Supporting Evidence: The paper must include specific textual support (e.g., quotations, passage references) to help build your thesis argument.
A minimum of two course texts must be cited. You should also cite two academic sources (critical essays, book chapters, or periodical articles).
⦁ Interpretation: The paper must clearly apply the analysis of the literary device(s) to a common theme and discuss trends in contemporary
literature, current societal events, and the commercial success of the novels. Include a brief discussion of historical happenings that may have influenced the genre, author, or work.
Craft the Conclusion of Your Essay
⦁ Review: Be sure to circle back to your thesis statement and review the main points you made in the body of your essay.
⦁ Summarize: Include your final thoughts about the way the author addresses the theme and whether this adds to or detracts from the book’s
⦁ Structure: As you develop your thesis, be sure to use a clear pattern of organization. Make sure your flow of ideas is logical and easy to
⦁ Articulation of Response: The paper should be free of errors related to citations, tone, style, grammar, spelling, and syntax. It should be
presented in a professional and easy-to-read format.
Final Project Rubric
Guidelines for Submission: Written components of projects must follow these formatting guidelines: double spacing, 12-point Times New Roman font, one-inch
margins, and citations in MLA format. Your final essay should be 5–7 pages in length (not counting your works cited page). A minimum of two course texts must be cited as well as two academic sources.
Critical Elements Exemplary (100%)
Needs Improvement (55%) Not Evident (0%) Value
Introduction: Thesis Statement Meets “Proficient” criteria and includes substantial and relevant context to draw and support conclusions on book’s popularity Develops an introduction which includes the novels, the theme, and what will be compared and contrasted; includes tie-in to book’s popularity Develops an introduction which includes the novels and the theme, but does not discuss what will be compared and contrasted in the paper. Does not include tie-in to book’s popularity Introduction does not include the chosen novels and the theme; does not include tie-in to book’s popularity 10
Body: Literary Analysis Meets “Proficient” criteria and provides substantial and relevant context to draw and support conclusions
Provides an analysis of chosen literary device(s), as it/they relates/relate to central theme, across multiple texts Provides an analysis of chosen literary device(s) across multiple texts, but does not relate device(s) to central theme across multiple texts Does not analyze chosen literary device(s) 20
Body: Compare and Contrast Meets “Proficient” criteria and incorporates substantial and relevant context to highlight connections and differences between authors Compares and contrasts chosen literary device(s) as used by two authors to illustrate central theme; explains how the literary device(s) and/or theme relates to book’s popularity Compares and contrast chosen literary device as used by two authors to illustrate central theme, but does not explain how the literary device(s) and/or theme relates to book’s popularity Does not compare and contrast chosen literary device used by two authors 20
Body: Supporting Evidence Meets “Proficient” criteria and integrates evidence with substantial and relevant detail to support thesis Utilizes scholarly resources to support claims Utilizes resources, but the resources do not directly relate to the thesis OR they are not scholarly (reputable) resources Does not utilize resources 15
Body: Interpretation Meets “Proficient” criteria and incorporates substantial and relevant detail into argument to draw conclusions about theme, commercial success, and historical events Constructs an argument that applies an analysis of chosen literary device to central theme; includes tie-in to commercial success and historical events There are gaps in the application of the literary analysis of the chosen literary device to the central theme which affect the success of the argument; may include tie-in to commercial success and historical events but lacks context and detail Does not apply the analysis of chosen literary device to central theme; does not include tie-in to commercial success or historical events 15
Conclusion: Review Reviews key points and incorporates substantial detail in a summary statement about the topic to support thesis claim
Reviews key points and creates a summary statement about the topic based on thesis statement There are gaps in the review of key points and/or the summary statement about the topic based on thesis statement Does not review key points and create a summary statement about the topic based on thesis statement 10
Writing Mechanics No errors related to grammar or formatting; utilizes course concepts and terminology
Minor errors related to grammar or formatting; utilizes course concepts and terminology
Some errors related to grammar or formatting; utilizes some course concepts and terminology Major errors related to grammar or formatting; does not utilize course concepts and terminology 10
Earned Total 100%