ENGL 126 Essay #1 Prompt
At this point in the semester, you have read “Part one: The old position” and “Part two: The attack on the old position” in News of the Universe by Robert Bly. We’ve discussed the “old position” and read poems in part one that reflect the thinking of the “old position.” In part two, you read about criticism of the “old position” and focused on poems which divert from “old position” thinking.
For this essay, I’d like for you to select one poem from “Part one” and one poem from “Part two” to compare. You will analyze the two poems as they relate to the “old position” and those who deviated from it. For example, in part one we read about how the “old position” promoted human superiority over nature and we analyzed how the poem “The Three Kingdoms in Nature” by Gotthold Lessing categorizes nature with humans occupying the first kingdom. In part two, we read about poets who by idealizing nature rebelled against ideas of the “old position” and you read the poem “Intimate Associations” by Charles Baudelaire which proclaims that “The natural world is a spiritual house.” If I were writing an essay that compares these two poems in relationship to the “old position” and those who diverged from it, I would discuss how the “old position” saw humans as separate from nature, as represented in “The Three Kingdoms in Nature.” In contrast, I would discuss how “Intimate Associations” idealizes nature and represents a departure from the “old position.” Additionally, I would move beyond the comparison to argue that we are presently still acting from within an “old position” mindset which has resulted in a climate crisis and global existential threat.
Remember that your essay needs an argument driven thesis which clearly states how the two poems differ from one another within the context of the “old position” and those who criticized it. I would suggest you begin by identifying an aspect of the “old position” that you want to focus on in the poems. For example, the perception of nature, of women, or of consciousness. Once you’ve settled on a specific aspect you want to analyze you can begin to look for similarities and differences in the two poems. Make sure to ground your findings within the concept of the “old position” and the critique of the “old position.” Use your introduction to define the “old position” and to introduce the aspect you will be focusing on in the poems. As with any other essay, you will need to quote generously from the source texts to support your argument. Do NOT rely on or include any texts outside of what has been assigned for this class.
ENGL 126 Essay Rubric
_____ / 15 Hook and Introduction – A fully developed introduction that
includes a hook, introduces your topic, and contextualizes your thesis.
_____ / 15 Thesis statement – Moves beyond a mere argument that a reader could agree/disagree and performs critical analysis.
_____ / 10 Topic Sentences – Begin each paragraph and contain the main idea of the paragraph. They also clearly connect back to your thesis.
_____ / 5 Transitional Sentences – Conclude each paragraph by providing closure.
_____ / 5 Quotation Selection & Incorporation – Evidence from the readings is used to support the central claim and is integrated using quotes and citation.
_____ / 10 Formatting – The essay follows MLA guidelines and includes a Works Cited page.
_____ / 5 Grammar – The essay is free of spelling and grammar issues.
_____ / 15 Conclusion and a Lasting Sentiment – A fully developed conclusion that restates the thesis and main points (using different words) and opens onto a larger idea (leaves the reader with a lasting impression).
_____ / 20 Comprehension and Analysis – Demonstrates an understanding of the material and engages with it critically. The essay is primarily the student’s own analysis (as opposed to summarizing or relying on outside sources).