Grading criteria:







An argument most of the other students are likely to have never thought about before, or synthesizing more than a single argument.

Coherent argument throughout. Well-substantiated by specific textual evidence. Very concise argumentation with little “fat” in descriptions.

Elegant writing, flowing argument with well-structured paragraphs, topical sentences and transitions.


Solid argument, although more expected and less complex.

Coherent argument, although with some deviation to unrelated points.

No jarring language, clear structure.  Few linguistic mistakes. A few awkward phrases.


Description of easily-discernible textual theme or style, or recycling of argument made in class.

Mixture of argumentation and unmotivated descriptive passages.  No examples from text.

Colloquial or ungrammatical language. Little attention to structure.


No argument.

Drawn, descriptive paragraphs unmotivated by any argument.

Sloppy language with frequent grammatical errors.



Originality: provide a clear argument at the beginning and work systematically through its implications; make sure that the argument does not rely only on what has already been discussed in class or secondary material; aim for formulations to which your friends will react, “I never thought about that!”; keep the same level of innovation and motivate d questioning throughout the paper.


Exposition: work out from a very short passage or scene and a limited set of questions; try to substantiate the argument with textual evidence; do not base your findings on personal reaction, assumed audience reception or unfounded author’s intentions; do not quote if you can paraphrase; provide plot synopsis only when it serves your argument; do not mention irrelevant details.


Style: do not write the way you speak (clarify causal relation between sentences; choose the precise words carefully and avoid generalized verbs, especially conjugations of “be”); avoid the passive voice, dangling pronouns and unspecified pronouns; describe fictional narrative only in the present simple; start with a punch-line rather than with a historical survey of the theme; check spelling (including names); pay attention to verb-noun coordination; explain quotation marks unless used for quoting.