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Gothic Setting: A Close Reading Essay For this paper, you will choose one of the stories from the Penguin Book of Ghost Stories, study the setting closely, and then write a 2-3 page essay based on the insights you glean from your close reading. The paper should take the form of a thesis-support essay. You’ll want to set up an argument by stating a main claim (usually right up front in the introduction) and then backing it up in the body paragraphs with “evidence” from the story itself. Tips for choosing a story and brainstorming:  Choose a story with a setting that seems remarkably rich with details. When deciding on a story (and on passages within the story to discuss), remember that the term setting refers to the time and the place of a story. So that your original ideas can come through in your essay, do not choose passages that we have talked about extensively in class as the focal point of your essay.  Prewriting exercises: o Describe the setting of your chosen story in your own words. Make sure you understand the layout of the landscape and buildings. Draw a map if that helps! o Underline interesting words and turns of phrase in your key passages. Which words jump off the page at you? o Reflect on the complexity of the setting. How and why is it interesting? How does it conform to your expectations or surprise you? o Try to make connections between the setting and other parts of the story. Does the setting echo other themes, patterns, or images in the text? How does your passage fit with the action of the story? Does the setting emphasize specific themes or concepts? Brainstorm—this is where you want to push your thoughts to the limit. This is the hardest part of close reading, but also the most rewarding. Tips for developing an argument:  An argument is an attempt to persuade an audience that your thesis (or main claim) is valid. You don’t need to persuade your readers of what they already know—so an argument will be weak if it is obvious. At the other extreme, it would be silly to try to persuade an audience of something that’s clearly untrue or easy to contradict. Your aim is to find a middle ground: a thesis that is both subtle and convincing. You want a main claim that helps to enlighten your readers about the work of literature.  An effective argument will have the following characteristics: 1) It will begin with an intriguing thesis. 2) The argument will be clear and coherent, following a single line of reasoning. 3) There will be evidence from the text to support every single claim. 4) Every paragraph will help to strengthen or refine the thesis in a clear and interesting way.  Introductions and conclusions: o You may have learned to begin your papers with a broad, sweeping statement about the world and then narrow to your thesis in the last sentence of your introductory paragraph. This isn’t the way published writers tend to set up their claims. Instead of beginning with vague, obvious generalizations, you might try to start with something new, surprising, or interesting; this might even be a statement of your thesis. o As for the conclusion, you don’t really need to restate your argument in a 2-3 page paper. Instead, you might try to refine or add to your thesis statement, or explore the implications of the argument you have just made. Hints for drafting and polishing your writing:  Don’t try to write the paper all in one sitting. Make sure you leave yourself time after your first draft for revising, cutting, and correcting mistakes.  Imagine that you are writing to teach your readers something about the work of literature. Imagine that they have read the text quickly and have understood the plot and the big themes, but they haven’t spent much time thinking about subtle themes and patterns, linguistic complexities, or hidden connections. Now you are going to show them

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