1. Pick your favorite primary text from “Lysistrata”
2. Ask yourself, “Why is this my favorite text?” and jot down your answers – be specific. For example, “I liked the part in Equiano’s narrative when he described the slave ship because ….” The “because” part is the important part of the answer. Make a list of notes.
3. Look over the list and compare your notes about the text you’ve chosen with the question areas from the “General Questions” handout (i.e. did you seem most to focus on the plot, the characters, the setting, or what?).
4. Looking at the “General Questions” handout, ask yourself the questions under whichever heading you’ve chosen in regard to the particular work (preferably the particular character, episode, or feature of the particular work) you’ve chosen. Start writing down your answers to these questions, ideally in complete sentences, using brief, targeted quotes from the text to support your answers.
5. Turn your answer(s) to one or more of these “General Questions” into an essay in which you TEACH a FELLOW READER (that is, someone who has also read the work in question, someone who DOES NOT NEED YOU TO SUMMARIZE) about the meaning of the text.
6. Be sure you have a clear thesis statement, if possible (and Googling “literary thesis statement” will help you get a grip on this, but partly, the assignment is a way to help you figure out what a thesis is), and be sure you support that thesis.
7. In both your TITLE and your FIRST SENTENCE, please clearly indicate the topic of your essay, including naming a text and (if available) an author’s name. For example, a solid title for a short essay might be something like this: “The Power of Queens in Virgil’s Aeneid.”
8. Be sure you have some organization for your essay, which, at a minimum, means paragraphs! Ideally, you will be building an argument that has at least a couple of propositions that need some support, and each of these propositions is likely to require writing at least one paragraph.
9. Be sure you use at least a few concise quotes from the text that support your argument.
10. Rewrite/revise, edit, and proofread the essay a couple of times, making it as seamless, coherent and concise as you possibly can. Make it look (in terms of format) like the sample I gave you. Make it one page ONLY!
Here are a couple of links that may be helpful. First, here’s a list of General Questions (from Ann Charters’s anthology “The Story”. You can print this out and use the questions listed on the two pages to help you come up with ideas about the work you want to write about.
Here’s a link to a website that basically tells you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO QUOTE CORRECTLY. Please, please, take the time to read this!
Here’s a link to a discussion of quotes, paraphrases and summaries; note the links on the left side of the page. (Be careful to make an argument and not simply to summarize what happens in the book or chapter or episode you’re talking about–the more specific your focus, the more you’ll have to say!)