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This essay should argue for the literary, cultural, or political significance. Please
frame your argument as part of a larger intellectual conversation by citing at least three relevant
outside sources â€“ e.g., book or film reviews, â€œmiddlebrowâ€ essays (e.g., The Nation, New
Republic, or National Review), or academic books or articles (such as those found in the journal
Science Fiction Studies).
Effective scholarly writing often uses the â€œThey Say, I Sayâ€ model, in which you summarize and
critique what other critics have said about your topic, then indicate how your understanding
differs from theirs, and finally defend that understanding with a well-reasoned argument of your
In The Philosophy of Literary Form, the literary theorist Kenneth Burke explains this dialogical
conception of literary study like this:
Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long
preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated
for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had
already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified
to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you
decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar.
Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns
himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent,
depending upon the quality of your allyâ€™s assistance. However, the discussion is
interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the
discussion still vigorously in progress.
For practical guidance on joining in on Burkeâ€™s â€œunending conversation,â€ I recommend the book
They Say, I Say, by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein.
In your formal essay you should assume your audience is intelligent and reasonably well
informed, but not familiar with literary-critical jargon or the specific texts you will be discussing.
. In addition to clearly expressing and adequately supporting an original and significant
argument, it should make appropriate use of its sources, have no significant grammar or spelling
errors, and use MLA style and format for in-text citations and Works Cited page.