The Grotesque in American Culture: Applying a Definition

Document created by Bedford New Scholar Expert on Oct 14, 2018Last modified by Leah Rang on Jun 6, 2019
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Assignment by Rachel McCabe, Bedford New Scholar 2018



Essay: Applying a Definition

Approximate Word Count: 850-1000

Points: 150

Primary Texts:

William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily”

Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabel Lee”

Definitional Texts:

Wolfgang Kayser, The Grotesque in Art and Literature

Michael Steig, “Defining the Grotesque: An Attempt at Synthesis”

Due Date:

Draft: Thursday, February 1st

Final: Tuesday, February 6th


The Assignment

Write an essay that uses one of our definitions of the grotesque as a lens for one of the primary texts from class. Analyze concrete details in both sources to establish an insightful relationship between the two authors’ ideas or structures.


Your claim should be analytical rather than a tally of obvious similarities and differences. Remember that an effective comparison integrates the definition and analysis, analyzing each in relation to the other. Ask yourself, “So What?” to push your analysis and argument further, particularly in the conclusion.


Use your textual analysis tools to unpack the rhetorical elements of the primary text. You can also use “The Method” and “Notice and Focus” to see what interesting moves are happening within the text that can be further explored, and perhaps complicated, by the grotesque lens.


Criteria for Evaluation 

  1. Does the thesis clearly establish an insightful relationship between the definition and analysis? Is there a “So What?”
  2. Does the Essay offer a focused analysis of details that supports a larger claim about the language, audience, or structure of the primary text?
  3. Does the Essay remain independent and objective by paraphrasing the authors’ words accurately, using internal citations and a minimum of quotations, and avoiding judgment or personal association?
  4. Does the Essay exhibit coherence through a logical flow of ideas and the use of well-developed paragraphs, transitions, attributive tags, and strong verbs? Does it adhere to MLA format and citation standards and contain few, if any, grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors