1201 research paper anticipating 1202 research paper, Russ Sbriglia






Analyze and evaluate the following two articles on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s“The Birthmark”:

Heilman, R.B. “Hawthorne’s‘The Birthmark’: Science as Religion.’”South Atlantic Quarterly48 (1949): 575-83.


Fetterley, Judith.“Women Beware Science: ‘The Birthmark.’” Critical Essays on Hawthorne’s Short Stories. Ed. Albert J.Von Frank. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991. 164-73.

Your tasks in this paper are to:

  • Address each critic’s main claim(s)—that is, address each critic’s thesis/main argument. How are their claims similar? How are they different?
  • Identify the key pieces of evidence (i.e., quotes/passages, scenes, etc.) from Melville’s story that each critic uses to support his claim(s).
  • Evaluate each critic’s use of this evidence—that is, think critically about how the evidence each critic uses either helps or hinders his overall argument. Do you agree with their interpretation of this textual evidence? Why or why not? Do the critics at any point use the same or similar evidence to make different claims? If so, how do you account for this difference?
  • Take a position—that is, make a case for whose essay is more convincing—and then explain this position.

When reading and writing about these articles, place them in dialogue with each other by asking yourself the following questions. Please note that you are not to attempt to answer all of these questions directly in your paper. The purpose of these questions, rather, is to help ground your reading of these essays as well as to help determine the direction of your paper.

  • What is the main theme, question, or issue driving the conversation between these two critics?
  • What is the common problem, or problems, that both articles address?
  • What is the critic’s main argument?
  • Of what does the critic hope to convince the reader?
  • What evidence does the critic use to support his argument?
  • What are the article’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • In what ways are their arguments similar? How are they different?
  • Which of the critics (if either) do you tend to agree with more and why?


Your instructor and classmates/peers—those who have read and are thus familiar with the story and the essays but who mayhave opinions different from your own.


  • Familiarize yourself with critical, academic articles.
  • Create a meaningful dialogue between critical sources.
  • Integrate analysis of primary and secondary (critical) sources.
  • Join a pre-existing academic dialogue.


  • Clear and well-argued thesis.
  • Appropriate evidence introduced and analyzed to support your thesis.
  • Arguments of the two critics accurately assessed and applied.
  • Appropriate tone and voice for defined audience.
  • Focused paragraphs with clear topic sentences and good transitions both within and between paragraphs.
  • Proper punctuation/mechanics throughout.


  • MLA style citation/documentation
  • 4-5 double-spaced pages
  • 1 inch margins all around, 12-point Times New Roman font
  • Include your name, course title (ENGL 1201), my name,and the date in the upper-left corner of the first page of your paper
  • Number your pages in the header (last name and page number: e.g. “Sbriglia 4”)


  • Bring two copies of your paper draft to class on Thursday, October27thfor peer review and feedback.
  • Final draft due on Tuesday, November 8th.
  • Remember to include your peer-commented draft and self-assessment along with your final draft.
  • As always, see me if you have any questions!