English 1100: Close Reading Essays (20% of Overall Course Grade)


To help you prepare to write your seminar paper on Tess of the D’Urbervilles, you will write a series of short papers as you progress through the novel. The objectives of these papers are as follows:

  • To practice applying the concepts we discuss in class.
  • To deepen your understanding of Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • To help you generate thoughts and material that you can use later for your seminar paper. Each or all of these essays may be incorporated with revisions into the rough draft and final draft of your Seminar Paper.

I will be handing out the assignments in class, but links to the handouts will be provided in the course calendar and below.


  • Seven one-page essays focusing on the text of Tess worth 10% of your Close Readings grade apiece.
    • Essay #1
      • Your task is to write a one-page paper about Phase 1 in which you try developing your personal response to what you just read. Try to organize your thoughts and feelings about the book so far.
      • You should support your response with specific details from the text.
      • Handout: short-essay-1-assignment
    • Essay #2
    • Essay #3
    • Essay #4
    • Essay #5
    • Essay #6
    • Essay #7
  • Context Revision: 30% of your Close Readings grade.
    • A 2-3 page revision of one of your short essays that integrates secondary references to support your argument.
    • The focus of these references should be on one of the following: the critical or social context of the novel.