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Short Response Essay Assignment (Shelley) 7%

Due at the beginning of class on Friday, February 2

Throughout the semester, you will be required write a short response essay (500 words) on five of the six
assigned novels. You may respond to one of the writing prompts below or develop your own topic in
consultation with the instructor. Your response should reflect your honest, thoughtful engagement with the
specific text, not simply repeat material we have discussed in class.
Responses must be at least 500 words. Your paper should be typed in 12-point Times New Roman and double-
spaced with one-inch margins. You should use MLA style.
Consult the Purdue University OWL’s pages on “Writing About Literature”
( and for
suggestions on developing a thesis and on avoiding common pitfalls in literary analysis.
If you are going to be absent on the day a response is due, you are still responsible for turning it in on (or
before) the scheduled due date. If you are absent (or if you have trouble printing out your response before
class) you must do the following to earn credit for the assignment: (1) submit your response to me via email
BEFORE class begins, and (2) by the next class (no later), turn in a printed copy of that document PLUS the e-
mail that you sent me. Only hard copy responses will be graded and returned, and no "late" work will be
accepted if you do not follow these steps.

Writing Prompts for Frankenstein

1. Theory of Mind (ToM) is defined as “the ability to recognize and attribute mental states — thoughts,
perceptions, desires, intentions, feelings –to oneself and to others and to understand how these mental states
might affect behavior. It is also an understanding that others have beliefs, thought processes and emotions
completely separate from our own” (Pederson). Consult the explanations of ToM on Moodle (by Pederson,
Firth and Firth, and Keen), and use this lens to analyze how ToM affects our understanding of empathy or
sympathy in Shelley’s Frankenstein.
2. Identify the most significant characteristics of the Romantic self. Then, analyze how Frankenstein (or
Walton, or the creature) embodies these characteristics or diverges from them.
3. An original topic you devise in consultation with Dr. Strecker.
4. Write a critical summary-response to a peer-reviewed scholarly article from the “Criticism” section of the
Norton Critical Edition of Frankenstein (beginning on page 311). You may choose any article from this section
except Mellor’s “Possessing Nature: The Female in Frankenstein,” which we will discuss as a class. Your
critical summary-response should present a focused summary of the critical article (Part 1, approximately 250
words) and a reflective response to that perspective (Part 2, approximately 250-300 words).
Part 1 should present a straightforward summary of the critical articles more important ideas and points
of argument and interpretation (for example, major or new points in the argument, a significant piece of support,
the critic’s summary of the opposition, etc.). As you work through Parts 1 and 2, consider to what extend and
how the reading has influenced your views and understanding, determine points of agreement or doubt,
determine significant questions raised by your experience with this essay, determine the most important ideas
you “take away” from the reading, and reflect on what you might “say back” to the scholar in sharing your
perspective on the essay and on the novel.
Your summary should strive to represent the original article accurately and fairly. Be direct and concise,
take an objective stance and tone, except for brief quotes use your own words to express the author’s ideas, use
attributive tags (such as, according to Butler or Butler argues that) to keep the reader informed that you are
expressing another’s ideas, and focus the summary to provide a cohesive and coherent account. You might
begin the summary by identifying the question or problem that the article addresses, then state the article’s
purpose or thesis and summarize its argument’s main points.
Part 2 should express your understanding of the original essay’s rhetorical strategies and critical
premises, and the effectiveness and significance of its argument. You may choose to extend the essay’s
perspectives by explaining its potential relevance to other aspects of the novel, or you may read “against the
grain” of the original argument to present a different or opposing perspective based on your own understanding
and reasoning. Your response can be both reflective and persuasive in its emphases and aims. You may find it
useful to compose a thesis for your response that maps out the challenging, engaging, important points you want
to develop and discuss.
Finally, include a complete bibliographic citation for the article in MLA style.