Paper 3 (Trethewey)

Due Thursday, 8 November
5 Pages

For this assignment, you will write a five-page paper about Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia. Following the patterns we’ve been reading about in They Say, I Say and that we have been practicing all semester, you will position your paper in conversation with one of the following interlocutors:

  1. Annette Debo, “Ophelia Speaks: Resurrecting Still Lives in Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia” (RD)
  2. Debora Rindge and Anna Leahy, “‘Become What You Must’: Trethewey’s Poems and Bellocq’s Photographs
  3. A post by a fellow classmate

In writing this paper, you do not need external sources—apart from those that you are responding to. Of course, you must still include page numbers for any poems or quotations from essays that you cite within the body of the paper.

For this paper, you will write a conclusion. And rather than just summarizing what you’ve said in your, paper your conclusion should articulate why your argument matters.


Tues, 6 November     Bring a rough draft to class, printed out
Thurs, 8 November   Final draft due, emailed as a PDF before 1pm EST

Assignment Policies (from the syllabus)

  • Assignments are due at the beginning of class.
  • Papers will be turned in electronically. You should send each paper to me as a PDF attached to an email. You should name your file in the following format: Student number-Assignment name. For example, “0879054-paper3.pdf”. Papers are counted as turned in based on when my inbox says they arrived.
  • Late work will not be accepted, except at my discretion (with a significant grading penalty). Assignment deadlines are not flexible.
  • Papers must be typed in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with 1 inch margins and must be in standard MLA style format. Furthermore, the pages should be numbered in the upper right corner.


I will focus on five discreet things in grading:

  1. The They Say, I Say move – Your essay should start by entering into conversation with either the secondary reading or a post by a fellow classmate. You should summarize their view (see TSIS chapter 1 and 2) and then respond to their view using one of the three strategies (agree, disagree, or “okay, but…” [see chapter 4]). Summarizing does not merely happen in the introduction. You might use a paragraph that follows the introduction to make sure you’ve properly communicated your interlocutor’s argument and set you up to respond. But you might also carefully integrate their arguments into the body of your paper through careful voice markers and signaling (see TSIS chapter 5).
  2. Incorporation of quotations – To make your argument persuasive, you need to use quotations effectively. Each quotation you use needs to be framed or put in a “quotation sandwich” (see TSIS chapter 3). You should introduce the quotation, integrate it into your own language (see RWL 42-49), and analyze or explicate the quotation. For the latter, it is important for you to make it clear how the quotation relates to your argument.
  3. Connecting the parts – Each paragraph / sentence in a paper needs to be connected in some way to the one that came before it, and it must also be clear to your reader what sort of connection exists between them (see TSIS chapter 8, RWL p. 31). This will help your reader follow your train of thought and see how your new paragraph / sentence relates to the previous one (either agreeing, extending, moving in a new direction, etc.). In addition to looking for the transitions at the beginning of paragraphs and sentences, I will also be looking for how you use “pointing words” and that you use careful repetition to create continuity in your writing.
  4. Saying why it matters – Arguments are more persuasive when you clearly articulate why your audience should care about them. Throughout your paper, but perhaps especially in your introduction and conclusion, you need to make it clear who should care about your argument and why they should care about it (see TSIS chapter 7). What, in other words, are the larger stakes of your argument?
  5. Prose and organizational effectiveness – It’s a writing class and a writing assignment, so the quality of your writing will be at issue. This means on the level on individual sentences and on the level of essay organization. As I have stated in class, I am concerned with the organization of your argument more than the placement of every comma. Nevertheless, many comma errors or particular comma errors can make it difficult to understand your argument.

Writing Center

Finally, I strongly encourage you to get a draft ready to take to the Writing Center. The best strategy for improving your writing is to get another set of eyes on the piece and to then, however painful it might seem, take some of that advice and make substantive changes to what you have produced.