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4 pages/≈1100 words
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Literature & Language
English (U.S.)
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Father Comes Home From the Wars. Literature & Language Essay (Essay Sample)


This is draft one, and I already have the 6 sources. 



Overall Objective:

To write a researched, seven-page paper that makes an original argument about one of the following plays:



Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1,2 & 3, Suzan-Lori Parks



This project builds over the course of the semester. In order to write a nuanced, original argument, you will need to rethink, reread, and reconsider your play in light of new research and conversation with your instructor and your classmates.

In other words, your final paper will undergo multiple major revisions, peer review, and instructor conference. Your final grade will consider this body of work holistically.

Each piece listed below is due via email at the start of the class period for which it is listed. Each step in this process should adhere to MLA formatting. Note that these formatting guidelines are widely available online (I recommend the Purdue OWL website) and they apply to the entire paper, not just the citations.  

Point Breakdown



Initial Research Question                              25 points

Annotated Bibliography                                 25 points

Draft One                                                      30 points

Draft Two                                                      40 points

Peer Critiques (2)                                          15 each/30 points

Final Revision                                                100 points


TOTAL                                                                      250 points



 Initial Research Questions: WHAT, HOW, and WHY?


After you have read and annotated your play, respond to each of the following prompts in a short paragraph.


WHAT? Identify a topic or theme the play addresses that you are interested in exploring. What interests you about this topic or theme?


A topic might be something like bunraku puppetry, African American regiments in the Civil War, Rust Belt labor organizing, or the fugue as a musical form. A theme might be something like spirituality, inter-generational trauma, freedom, memory, competition, or assimilation. Note that this is not binding: your topic/theme will evolve and become more specific as you do research.


HOW does the playwright approach this topic? Consider form, style, characterization, the six elements of production, tone, the use of history, the use of autobiographical elements, the use of literary devices like repetition and revision, etc.


In this paragraph please refer to specific characters and moments from the play, citing them with page numbers.


WHY might the playwright depict the topic or theme THIS way? What is your theory or hunch? Consider the following questions, if they are helpful: how did this approach make you feel about the topic or theme? What did it leave you thinking about or wondering? Why did this need to be a play, instead of an essay, a film, or some other form?


Your response to these questions COULD turn out to be the kernel of a thesis statement!


  • Grading Criteria: If your work shows effort and fulfills the criteria of the assignment, you will receive 15 points. If your work is incomplete or does not fulfill the criteria for the assignment, you will receive 5 points. If your work is minimal or you do not hand in the assignment, you will receive 0 points.




Annotated Bibliography


Your goal for your annotated bibliography is to begin the difficult task of paraphrasing your key sources, organizing your thoughts about the main ideas found in those sources, and articulating your tentative argument in response to those sources.


The other set of skills involved is basic MLA formatting. You will be graded on correct MLA formatting. This can be time-consuming, but the good news is once you’ve done the annotated bib, it will be done for your final paper!


Your annotated bib should include at least six sources. Do not include the play itself. You are not required to cite each source in your final paper.


For the annotated bib, at least one source should be a chapter or introduction from a book. At least one source should be a scholarly article from a database or journal.


Your annotations should be two to four sentences and must achieve two main functions:

  1. Summarize the source, including the main argument or thesis and any notable methods.
  2. Respond to the source in some way. Explain how this source relates to your argument. Does this source support your reading of the play? Will you build on the source, applying it’s argument to a new topic? Will you refute it? Cite it as evidence? Etc.


Here is an example of an entry in an annotated bibliography. The correct format for MLA is as follows:


Thomas, Aaron C. “Watching A Raisin in the Sun and Seeing Red.” Modern Drama 58.4 (Winter

2015): 461-481. Academic Search Complete. 30 Aug. 2018.

      Thomas argues that Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun illustrates the pervasive influence of Communist political critique on black theatre in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. Drawing on the FBI’s own internal memos investigating the play before it came to Broadway, Thomas positions the play as an effective political critique of racism, sexism, and capitalism. Thomas’s analysis of the FBI internal memos supports my feminist reading of the play by demonstrating the political efficacy of her text, even outside of literary circles.


Remember that writing the initial annotated bib does not mean that you are done researching. As you continue to work going forward, you can (and should) add to this list of sources to help you organize your thought for Draft One of the paper. 


  • Grading Criteria: If your work shows effort and fulfills the criteria of the assignment, you will receive 25 points. If your work is incomplete (aka you don’t respond to the source in some way) or does not fulfill the criteria for the assignment (aka your MLA formatting is off), you will receive 15 points. If your work is minimal or you do not hand in the assignment, you will receive 0 points.






Draft One


Draft One should be at least four full pages. Here’s what I expect to see in this draft:

  1. An introduction that:
    1. sets up the WHAT, the HOW, and the WHY (see initial research question assignment), including a succinct summary of the plot
    2. ends with a clear thesis statement: an arguable claim that you will develop over the course of the paper.
    3. At least two body paragraphs that cite evidence from the play itself as well as other sources to support and/or complicate your thesis.
      1. Each body paragraph should begin with a sentence that explicitly links to your thesis statement.



  • Grading Criteria: If your draft meets the requirements outlined above, you will receive 30 points.  If your work is incomplete or does not feature a clear attempt at a thesis statement, you will receive 20 points. If your work is minimal or you do not hand in the assignment, you will receive 0 points. 




Peer Review (2)


Working in groups of three to be assigned in class, you will offer feedback on two of your peers’ work. This means you will also receive feedback from two peers. This feedback will take the form of a letter to your peer of approximately one-page, single-spaced.


There are two major benefits to this exercise. First, seeing your paper through the eyes of a real reader is invaluable. You may find, for instance, that an argument that is crystal clear in your mind has not translated effectively to the page. Second, reading someone else’s work with a critical yet generous eye can help you learn to turn that critical yet generous eye on your own work. 


A few notes on Peer Review:

  • Remember to be kind. This is a writing class and we should all feel the freedom to experiment and try things that might be outside of our comfort zones. That’s why we are here!
  • Use I Statements (“I found this sentence a little confusing”) instead of You Statements (“you need to make this sentence less confusing.”)
  • You may find it helpful to quote directly from the paper
  • When you read your peer review letter, keep in mind that you do not have to take every piece of advice you receive. You are the author and ultimately you get to decide which advice to take. That said, your peers have excellent insight as readers, and you should seriously consider their feedback.


Your letter should include the following sections, in the following order:

  1. A personal salutation
  2. A paragraph describing the thesis statement. Begin by quoting the thesis statement. Go on to consider: is it clear? strong? arguable? did the body paragraphs link to it explicitly?
  3. A paragraph responding to the author’s question
  4. A paragraph describing your favorite element of the draft or the strongest element of the draft
  5. A personal sign off


  • Grading Criteria: If your work shows effort and fulfills the criteria of the assignment, you will receive 15 points per peer review. If your work is incomplete or does not fulfill the criteria for the assignment, you will receive 10 points per peer review. If your work is minimal or you do not hand in the assignment, you will receive 0 points.




Draft Two


Your goal for this assignment is a significant revision of Draft One, drawing on feedback from your peer reviewers and your instructor. In my written comments on Draft One, I will tell you what I think is your most important step for revision. To receive full credit, Draft Two should demonstrate that you have attempted to revise based on this feedback.


This draft should include:

  • a strong, original, arguable thesis well-supported with evidence and analysis.
  • secondary source work and plenty of textual evidence from the play itself
  • a coherent structure which links back to the thesis explicitly and often
  • your own voice as a writer: a sense of urgency, or why this matters to you as a writer or to the larger discourse
  • MLA formatted list of Works Cited at the end
    • Note that at this point it will be labeled “Works Cited” (not “Bibliography”) and it will not be annotated. The annotations are meant to help you organize your thoughts about your sources while researching, but they do not belong in a polished draft
    • thorough editing for mechanical errors (proof read please!)


In order for you to receive full credit for this draft, it must be at least six pages long, not including the list of works cited.


  • Grading Criteria: If your work shows a significant attempt at revision and fulfills the criteria of the assignment, you will receive 40 points.  If your work is incomplete or does not fulfill the criteria for the assignment, you will receive 25 points. If your work is minimal or you do not hand in the assignment, you will receive 0 points.



Final Draft


Your final draft is the culmination of your work on all the elements of the CommB Project. By this stage your paper will have undergone revisions, incorporated feedback from both me and your peers, and be properly formatted. This should be a finished, impressive piece of writing that you feel proud of.


When I grade your final draft, I will also consider all of the assignments described in this document that led up to it. Your final grade will reflect your whole portfolio of work for the semester.


1)    Submit your final paper to me electronically by 5pm on Friday, May 3.

2)    In the body of your email, please briefly respond to the following prompts:

  1. What do you argue in this paper? Why is this an important claim?
  2. What is the strongest aspect of this paper? What do you feel most proud of?
  3. What would you have liked more time to work on?
  4. Is there anything you want me to know before I begin reading?
  5. Do I have your permission to use your Comm B Project, in part or in whole, as an anonymous example in future classes?


  • Grading Criteria: 100 points total are possible for the Final Draft and “Portfolio.” See rubric.


Annotated Bibliography

1. LEEMAN, WILLIAM P. “George Bancroft’s Civil War: Slavery, Abraham Lincoln, and the Course of History.” New England Quarterly, vol. 81, no. 3, Sept. 2008, pp. 462–488. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1162/tneq.2008.81.3.462.

In this Journal,Leeman focus on the American views on freedom and slavery. By describing American history, we can see the role and position of slaves played in the civil war, and how the slavery decline and eventually disappear. Achieving freedom and democracy has always been an integral part of American history, and this also echoes hero's understanding and exploration of freedom- from confused and afraid to aware, finally achieve it.


2. Finkelman, Paul. “Slavery, the Constitution, and the Origins of the Civil War.” OAH Magazine of History, vol. 25, no. 2, Apr. 2011, pp. 14–18. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/oahmag/oar004.

Finkelman illustrates the origin and development of slavery, and the improvement of slavery in the civil war from the President Lincoln's point of view. Lincoln as an anti-slavery man, thought slavery is an obstacle and should be abolish. Lincoln’s thought supports my opinion of everyone including slaves should pursue the dream of freedom.


3. ISHERWOOD, CHARLES. “Ulysses as an American Slave.” New York Times, vol. 164, no. 56669, 29 Oct. 2014, pp. C1–C2. EBSCOhost,,uid&db=aph&AN=99083179&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

In this article, Isherwood analysis the play father comes home from the wars, the pat I most agree with Isherwood is when he analysis the conversation between Hero and Smith. Hero felt worried about the future after he became freed, and he “is less than his worth when he’s a slave”. From this part, we can see although Hero have no idea about freedom, but he realized he will free someday and contrast with later he changed his name to Odyssey.


4. JOYCE, VALERIE M. “Suzan-Lori Parks in Person: Interviews and Commentaries.” Comparative Drama, vol. 49, no. 3, Fall 2015, pp. 378–381. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/cdr.2015.0030.

This interview introduce the background of the author Suzan-Lori Parks of father comes home from the war, Suzan-Lori Parks is good at mining history and use her words to make figure vividly. Like Hero in this play, He is a true epitome of thousands of slaves in America, and the process for him to pursue freedom is also all of slaves experienced.


5. Homer, , and Robert Fitzgerald. The Odyssey. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

The Odyssey is a book which basically tells the story of the rebirth of Odyssey after many struggles. The Odyssey is a new name Hero gave himself after he returns Texas, and I think this means Hero become freedom in his mind and can start a new life.


6. “‘African American’ Labor in the Civil War.” OAH Magazine of History, vol. 26, no. 4, Oct. 2012, pp. 7–8. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/oahmag/oas038.

This journal mainly write after the civil war, the problems that slaves had to solve, and how they safeguard rights and are treated fairly step by step. This gives me a supplement of father comes home from the wars, which help reader has a better understanding of the end of the play. Because after Hero returns Texas, he will also faced these serious problems.



Father Comes Home From the Wars
Suzan Lori Parks play is written in precision and one cannot ignore that it is historical poem where she writes history and turns a true historical event into a performance through art. Her work is deep and thoughtful with a structure of ambition, which is packed with literary allusions. As an intuitive artist, Parks cares also about the sound, her language, and her musicality. However to push her expression parts focuses on slaves and not just any slaves but the black American who could not be afforded the name American and hence were referred to as slaves. Interesting she refers to them as slaves because they could not be termed as Americans and hence she writes of black Americans. She combines the same with modernity where what was happening back then has not changed and individuals today are still enslaved by the system and hence the word slave fit in this contest where she is able to approach this topic by use of history and smoothly let the audience make a comparative of the same to today's environment. According to Finkelman, Paul, in "Slavery, the Constitution, and the Origins of the Civil War." (15) Parks observes that her father is the inspiration for the play, perhaps because he was a soldier the only way she could depict the authoritative energy of soldiers was through a play and not an essay. Slaves was the name given to them as they were not worth of being Americans and hence Civil war period black Americans were dubbed slaves, slaves who are observed to know no freedom even when accorded an opportunity to leave their masters.

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