• Research requirement. This final essay must have a research component. In orde

• Research requirement. This final essay must have a research component. In order to develop the best and most sophisticated possible argument, you must cite, in addition to the primary text, at least three separate critical/theoretical (not biographical) sources that have not been selfpublished on the internet. To be clear: there must be at least four entries on the Works Cited page: the primary text (the poem or poems you are analyzing) and the three critical/theoretical secondary sources.
• By “self-published,” I mean material posted by the author on a webpage. In other words, do not begin and end your research with Google (although there is a Google Scholar search engine which will sometimes yield higher-quality results). The best way to be certain you are dealing with quality, peer-reviewed criticism is to use a library database, such as the MLA database, JSTOR, or Project Muse (inquire with a librarian if you need help accessing these sources). If you are not certain that a given critical source meets the college-level scholarly standard, feel free to inquire. Your sources must be listed on a Works Cited page at the end of your essay.
• Lastly: remember to properly integrate these sources into your argument. The material from your research shouldn’t be dropped into your paper at random but should rather give you the opportunity to amplify and sharpen your argument. Also, your paper should not become a mere collage of what others have written about a given text. You should be in a detailed dialogue with your sources, which means that you should interact with them, build off them, and point out their flaws (if any), while still maintaining a focus on your argument and ideas.
Topics – Paper #2
1. The Blood of the Nation. The poem “Easter, 1916” by William Butler Yeats is an extraordinary response to the Easter Rising, an event that took place the day after Easter in 1916, in which Irish independence militia forces attempted to seize control of Dublin and end the long period of British territorial control over Ireland. The insurrection was put down brutally and the ringleaders were summarily executed. Yeats’s poem takes up the subject of sacrifice and martyrdom and how they relate to the founding of a sovereign nation. How does this poem approach this topic of blood sacrifice? Is blood and its spilling somehow deemed as necessary in creating a new political order? Why? What does it mean to shed one’s blood for one’s nation?
2. Dickinson and Privacy. What do we mean when we talk about privacy? Using examples from Emily
Dickinson’s poetry, investigate what it means for her to be private and to value privacy. In what ways does
Dickinson’s poetry imagine and represent privacy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of privacy? What does it mean to be a poet writing poetry in privacy and about privacy? How are the relations to the outside world (friends, family, lovers, a reading audience) conditioned by a desire for privacy? How does privacy imply a certain relationship one has with oneself? In what way is Dickinson’s privacy a necessity given restrictions on women’s careers in the mid-19th century? How is privacy and its opposite, publicity, represented in her work?
3. States of Mourning. Consider Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” and explore the strategies, conventions, and rhetoric of the poetry of mourning. What does it mean to mourn? How does this poem go about representing death, and how does it offer a way for the mourner to get through the trauma of loss? In what way does Whitman’s poem rely on conventions typical in the pastoral elegy? Does the fact that Whitman’s elegy is about a monumental public figure (a President) change its tone in comparison with elegies about more obscure individuals?
4. Ode Mode. Pick an ode of Keats and explain to me what a poet is doing when he or she composes an ode. What does one do in an ode? How is the Romantic ode a distinctive subgenre of odes in general? Be sure to read very closely, looking for repeated words, phrases, concepts, and themes. Also, be sure to tell me the argument of the ode, since odes are typically not just descriiptive; that is, they have some set of ideas or emotions that must be communicated.
5. Shelley’s Hymn. What is beauty (or Beauty) for Shelley, and how does he describe it in his “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty”? What is the relationship of the natural world to the beauty perceived by the speaker of this poem? Why is the “LOVELINESS” the speaker mentions “awful” (71)? (Note: This is the older meaning of “awful”: i.e. full of awe, awe-inspiring.) One of the keywords of this poem is “power” (1, 61, 78); why is that? What philosophical points does this poem endeavor to make?
6. Atonement. Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” is, among other things a poem about crime and punishment. What does the poem say about the process of atonement? How does a certain crime require a certain kind or level of atonement? How does the poem portray the growth of ethical understanding and how does it describe what it means to feel remorse, to ask forgiveness, and to seek atonement? Is the Mariner’s atonement proportionate to his offense? What is the difference between forgiveness and atonement, in the poem?

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