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Books to Choose from: Isolated Incident The Sleeping Car Porter A Minor Chorus Sylvia Hamilton-Tender Letter to Authors Assignments Length: 4 – 6 pages

Books to Choose from:

Isolated Incident

The Sleeping Car Porter

A Minor Chorus

Sylvia Hamilton-Tender

Letter to Authors Assignments

Length: 4 – 6 pages (1000 – 1500 words). 

Letters to Authors:  Using letter form, write a letter to an author on the course (one from each term). In the letter, discuss an issue or theme arising IN their book and identify what especially engaged you about it, and why.  Taking a position on the issue (your point of view about the issue),  question/explore/interpret the issue, supporting your ideas with examples from the text. 

Ideas for issues: you might focus on a particular human problem (imperfect love, for instance) or a situation you think the author is exploring (how the past haunts the present, for instance); an idea arising from the way characters are presented, behave and interact; or consider the way the story is structured and formulate a position on your focus.  Alternatively, you might want to analyse the language and/or form of the work.  How do specific structures or use(s) of language create a deeper level of meaning/significance to help you better understand the richness of the text?  If you are writing on poetry, you may take up what you see as a theme or issue in the text but focus on one or two poems to support and illustrate your points.

As you figure out your position, read with questions and search for clues to support your position. Sample questions: how did the text lead me to think differently about the world, about being human or about writing as a creative process? Did it deepen, or confirm, views I now hold?  Or, did it challenge me to see things differently?  If so, how?  Is there a larger significance to all this? How did the author achieve this – through narrative, character interaction and/or structure and language?

A word of advice regarding form for this assignment:

Rather than using the form of a conventional academic essay, write a ‘personal’ letter to the author. Imagine the author reading your letter. 

Components of your letter should include:

an introductory passage where you introduce the issue you’ve chosen (about one paragraph in length).  The paragraph should contain a thesis statement (your position) on the issue you take up;

a section, divided in coherent body paragraphs, where you present your analysis using examples (quotations) from the text.

a concluding passage where you sum up your ideas. 

Basically, your letter should contain a thoughtful, interpretative, critical response to the book you choose.  Our grading sheet is available on the course website and shows how your letter will be evaluated.

Grading criteria: Your letter demonstrates 1. a focused analysis; 2. use of examples from the text to explain the significance of your points; 3. effective writing style.   See the grading sheet in the first section of the course website.

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