English 102 Spring 2016 Research Paper Directions: Using one of the critical literary theories we have discussed or will discuss in class, write an analysis of one of the works of literature that is included in our textbook or on our class syllabus (you may, in some cases, write about more than one work). First, you should formulate a research question about your work/works of literature that incorporates the theory you have chosen. Then, do research to explore what other critics who use the theory you have chosen have said about your question, and use what you find out as you research to support your own interpretation of the text, or to propose a new one. Length: 5 – 6 pages. This means the body of your paper (not the works cited page) must be down to the bottom of the fifth page when the paper is formatted correctly.
Sources: In your essay, you must cite least four sources, either by quoting them directly or by paraphrase. Quotes and sources should be directly relevant to the topic you are discussing. One source must be a piece of literary criticism about the work of literature you chose. One source must relate to the critical theory you chose. The other two sources are up to you. Appropriate sources include articles from journals that specialize in literary criticism, books of literary criticism, and in some rare cases, websites devoted to literary criticism. (General encyclopedias, whether they are online or in print, are not appropriate sources for this assignment, and I strongly caution you against using Google or other general search engines as your primary method of finding resources.) If you don't know whether or not a source is appropriate, see me.
Quotations: I am expecting you to have at least one quotation from the work(s) of literature you are discussing in each body paragraph of your essay. (Though you may, of course, have more than one quotation per paragraph.) Also, remember that you need to cite each of your outside critical sources at least once. All quotations/citations must be in MLA format, and you will need to include a complete works cited page that lists both the works of literature and the critical articles you have cited on a separate page at the end of your essay. If you have questions about how to format your quotations or do your works cited page, please refer a handbook or your text book, talk to me, or visit the library and speak with a librarian.
Formatting: Please refer to the formatting guide I gave you with your syllabus. Your essay should be written in 12 Point Times New Roman font, have one-inch margins, and include your name, date, class, assignment, and word count in the upper left-hand corner of the first page.
Summary vs. Analysis: I am expecting the bulk of your paper to be analysis, not summary. Assume that your audience is familiar with the story you are discussing and keep summary to a minimum, only using it when it is necessary to place your arguments within the context of the story.
Due Date: Thursday, 5/26. Must be uploaded to turnitin.com by the beginning to class to avoid 10% late penalty.
Some tips on coming up with a question: 1. Start with a broad question.
For instance, you might start with a question like, "How do Marxist critics interpret Death of a Salesman”?
2. Narrow your focus to a specific character or theme.
As you do your research on Death of a Salesman, you may become fascinated by a particular debate you see coming up over and over again in the critics you read, and you might change your question to something along the lines of, “Is Miller’s depiction of the Loman family meant to be an indictment of Middle Class American ‘bourgeois’ values and the system that supports them?” Now that you have narrowed your focus to one specific question that comes at the text using a Marxist critic’s terminology, the assignment should be much more manageable.
3. Remember, it is not your job to come up with the one and only interpretation of a work of literature using the theory you choose. Instead, it is your job to propose possible interpretations, to prove to your audience that those interpretations work, (make sense), and to explain to your audience what your interpretation reveals about the work of literature.
Theories you may use: (All of these are in the handout I gave you.) Formalism/New Criticism
Reader Response Theory
Historical/ New Historicist Criticism
What can I write about? Any work from our syllabus/class work that you have not already written about in your first two essays. You may, if you would like, write about more than one work from the same author, or two works with similar themes/issues, especially in the case of short poems.
Any other work (poem, play, or short story) from our text book that we are not reading together as a class. If you have a strong desire to write about a work not in our book, see me.