Collaborative Essay - Caleb williams

This group essay will be 7-9 pages. Each group will choose its own topic, building on our class discussions.  Of course, you will go beyond these, drawing on your own ideas. Don't forget to use the resources in the Penguin edition of CW: critical introduction and appendices. Also, see the Course Notes link on CW.  Groups might develop ideas we did not have time to explore fully or did not mention.

Each group will need to develop strategies for topic selection, planning, drafting, revising, and editing its essay.  It is best to debate ideas/different views. Avoid "group think," or defaulting to one person or an idea most readily available. Also, be sure to take advantage of a group project--you have two (or three) individuals who contribute ideas and complete work.  When is it best for each person to complete a task and then combine ideas?  When is it best to work on a single task together?

All group members should have copies of all work.  It also makes sense that all group members revise, edit and proofread rather than leaving this to one group member.

It will be necessary to work on this essay outside of class--using email and meeting in person.

Finally, each group will complete a planning chart (5pts--each group member gets the same points).  (Handout in class.)

ESSAY TOPIC PROPOSAL (10pts--all group members get the same points)

1. Give the working title of your essay

2. State your topic and the main issue or question your essay is addressing. 

3. State your working thesis, even though you will clarify this thesis statement as you draft and revise.  Be as specific and clear as you can at this stage.  Again, I realize it is early in the writing process.

4. In a reasonable paragraph, at this point in your thinking, indicate some of your main evidence--your main points/a few examples from the novel, including quotations (page numbers).

Submit one proposal per group via email--see syllabus.  One person will have to send the email; however, all group members' names should be on the email ("From" or "CC" line).  Place info in the body of the email.  Do not send as an attachment.  Be sure to think about formatting; edit/proofread for grammar and mechanics.

Use an appropriate email subject line and salutation.  Use a 12pt, TNR font for text--based on Mircosoft Word.

OUTLINE (10 pts--all group members get the same points.)
  1. You will write a graphic organizer (outline) of your entire essay before you begin drafting your essay.  The graphic organizer will be due with the final essay, although we will most likely share it in class. It will help you solidify the content and structure of your essay before you start drafting.  It will also help you envision what quotations you will use and where in the essay they will go.
  2. Use the handout of a sample graphic organizer I gave you.  Do not just make up your own type of outline.  As we went over in class, include quotations.  Give the volume and page along with a brief description.  You do not need to write out full quotations.
  3. How long should the graphic organizer be?
Notes for Writing the Essay

Formatting: 12pt Times New Roman, double spaced, one-inch margins.  Since you are indenting paragraphs, you do not need extra spaces between paragraphs.  Don't forget page numbers and an appropriate title.  **Note: If you use Google Docs, you will have to compare your formatting to a Word doc to achieve the correct formatting.

: Assume your readers are upper-level students (English majors but possibly nonEnglish majors too) taking a course like ours. Assume they have read the novel (e.g., basic plot) and have experience reading, discussing, and writing about literature.

Research/Outside Sources: You are not required to use outside sources, but you can if you wish. If you interested in finding outside sources, search the library's books and databases--for articles.  Don't forget that the reference section also has helpful materials.  Finally, there are helpful websites you might consider--but be sure to assess the credibility of these (Wikipedia is not suitable source for this essay, although it can be an initial source for basic information.)

If you use the critical introduction to the Penguin edition, you will have to cite this separately from the novel itself (for your quotations).

If you do use secondary sources, you will, of course, need to cite those.

Citing CW:  You need to include a works cited page, even if you are just citing from the novel. For in-text (parenthetical) citations, cite volume/chapter numbers as well as the page numbers, e.g., (27; vol. 1, ch. 3). For citation information (in-text citations and works cited page), consult the MLA Handbook, 8th ed.


Remember the function of an introduction: to announce the topic, present the issue that motivates the essay (topic) or explain why the topic is important,  and create reader interest. You can raise a question about the novel that the essay will answer or begin with a key quotation that raises a key issue (issues) the essay will explore. More generally, the introduction makes the focus of the essay clear.

The thesis is usually presented near the end of the introductory paragraph(s). A thesis statement is the conclusion/main point you have come to about a key question or issue. It should be specific, focused, and clear.

Ex: "Northanger Abbey is a novel about Catherine Moreland's growth and marriage." This statement is too general for a thesis statement. It is descriptive rather than interpretive.

Ex: "Although Northanger Abbey ends with happy marriages, the novel, through the narrator's ironic commentary, also reveals the limitations on individualism marriages place on women." This clear. specific statement is an interpretation of the novel, so it is debatable and must be supported/defended.


Organize your essay by developing and linking supporting points/ideas. This organization will be suggested, to some degree, by your thesis.  Move logically and clearly from supporting idea to supporting idea, each, in turn, supporting the thesis. Use clear topic sentences that focus each paragraph as well as clear paragraph transitions. Also, be sure paragraphs are not too long (overloaded) or too short (underdeveloped). A graphic organizer (will be discussed in class) is an effective way to visualize the entire structure of your essay.


For this essay, choose your supporting ideas carefully. Do not focus on plot summary, although some summary to contextualize points may be helpful. You should only use plot summary briefly to contextualize points/ideas. Be sure to defend supporting ideas clearly and specifically using concrete examples. You may, for example, define key terms/words, interpret dialogue and actions, assess characters, explain the meaning/significance of key ideas (themes)/concepts.

Using/Integrating Quotations

Quotations emphasize and highlight important ideas/points that would be lost or muted with paraphrase or summary. They also allow readers to experience the language of the text. Remember, however, that quotations are not a substitute for your thinking, so they must be interpreted and explained. Don't overuse quotations in a short essay and be careful about using long (block) quotations. Choose quotations judiciously. Check the MLA Handbook for advice about integrating and punctuating quotations and citing page numbers. Do not guess or devise your own system.

Even if you are just using CW, you need a works cited page.  Again, consult the MLA Handbook, 8th ed., as needed.

Grammar and Mechanics

Be sure each group member helps with this area. Concerns for review:

Final Grading Each group will turn in its 1.) planning chart, 2.) graphic organizer, and 3.) final essay

(All group members receive the same grade.)

 See the syllabus for essay weight (percentage)

Group Assignments

Group 1: Jacob M., Katherine G., Tanner O.
Group 2: Melissa J., Eleanor H.
Group 3: Maddie S, Sam B,

Group 4: Michaela B., Sierra W.