Entering the Critical Conversation

I won’t bog down this section with how I came to this essay topic since it began in essay two, or even the more specific points of my argument, which can be found in the presentation portfolio, but I will talk about what it was like to incorporate the works of other critics into my own writing.

For the unit of Entering the Critical Conversation, the goal was to become comfortable putting my work in conversation with other literary critics by summarizing their claims, and then responding to them by focusing on how my own claims furthered the academic conversation.

This task was definitely a challenge especially because I was putting it in action alongside of historical contextualization and close-reading—three skills to juggle and keep clear. I had no problem seeing how the work of the critics I chose to respond to—Kermode and Brown—connected to my essay topic, but I did run into problems with the summary of them. Summarizing the works themselves was no problem, but because I was choosing to respond to one more critic than necessary and adding them to a the already present summary of my historical texts, it resulted in a lot of writing before I even got to the analysis in my essay. To add insult to injury, my historical contextualization section became even longer after I decided to add information on the antimasque—an internal device in the larger masque—so that I could make Brown’s work useful.

Call it a stubborn commitment to write the best essay that I could, but I refused to let go of any of the sources despite the challenges they posed because I saw in each of them a specific value. Kermode’s work provided me a point by which to start my essay, responding to his notion that the masque in The Tempest is next to meaningless, and Brown’s work allowed me to more passionately develop the “so what” of my essay, bringing out a malicious goal of the masque to live out English aristocracy’s thirst for colonization. Needless to say, all of these sources took a lot of organization to keep in check (and felt like corralling cats at some points), which is fairly evident in my free write/outline which is much more detailed than the previous two.

You can see in my first draft the problem of length that I had with all of my summary, which some helpful tips from a peer helped to correct. You can see those corrections in the revised draft of my essay.

After submitting my revised draft, it felt really great to get such good feedback from my professor, because this essay was some of my most intellectually sophisticated work this semester. I do feel that this essay could still use a bit of work, based on the last set of comments I received, but I exercised knowing when to step away from an essay before losing my sanity. I am immensely proud of this essay and have thus included it in my presentation portfolio in all its glory. Oh, did I mention that it won an award? Head on over to my presentation landing page to check it out!