Using only the present tense in essays

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lawrenceMcCambridge-audin

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Please, please help!!!! I am teaching at an American school in Saudi Arabia, and while I am not a trained English teacher, but a trained Educationalist, I am a recognized British playwright, so feel I do have some understanding of the language and its uses. I am not American and this is my first experience of the American system, rubrics and all. My problem; I am told the students must use only the present tense when writing essays discussing literature. Is this the case? For while I can not explain the finer grammatical points, I can think of, and have come across, many instances when the past tense would seem more appropriate in essays. Further, having taught in British schools I have never come across this before, but as I say I am not a qualified English teacher. So please can anyone help? :roll:
 

Casiopea

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lawrenceMcCambridge-audin said:
I am told the students must use only the present tense when writing essays discussing literature.

Hmm. I wouldn't say, "only". When writing about literature, the convention is to use the Literary or Historical Present e.g., Shakespeare says, not Shakespeare said, to (a) express a fact/a general truth, (b) draw the reader in, and (c) make the argument present.

Click here to read more and try searching under the terms literary present and historical present.




[Edited to make link work - Shane]
 
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