In 8-10 double-spaced pages, write a research paper that builds on your chosen essay/analysis from earlier in the semester, and the research you’ve carried out all through the semester.
Here are the essential elements of a strong research paper:
An introduction that engages the audience either by drawing their attention to some interesting aspect of the primary text or by connecting the primary text to larger questions meaningful in contemporary society/scholarship.
A strong thesis statement that appears either in the first or second paragraph and that is amply supported by evidence in the rest of your essay (consult pages 27-30 of Reading and Writing about Literature for what constitutes a ‘strong’ thesis).
Paragraphs that cohere around a central idea; each paragraph should address a key/major point which is captured in the topic sentence, and that topic sentence should be connected to the thesis in some way.
Careful analysis of your primary text
Extensive engagement with secondary sources; you must use at least four scholarly sources to develop, expand, support, or otherwise influence your analysis of your primary text.
A conclusion that does more than simply restate the thesis or summarize the essay
A works cited list that adheres strictly to MLA citation format.
Appropriate style, punctuation, and syntax that follow standard American/academic English
Common errors to avoid and ways to avoid them:
You can avoid a hasty, overgeneralized analysis of the primary text by focusing on certain highly significant elements/scenes/sections of the primary text and carefully analyzing each element/scene/section within the larger context of the text.
You can avoid insufficiently analyzing the text by asking “so what?” repeatedly of the textual element you are analyzing till you are confident you have teased out all the implications of that textual element. Paraphrase or quote directly from the text in support of any claims you make.
You can avoid superficial use of secondary sources by reading each secondary source you use multiple times, engaging at length with the ideas you find interesting, and paraphrasing or quoting directly from those sources wherever possible. Ask yourself: how does this source develop my analysis? What does this source do for my thinking on the primary text that would not have been possible had I not read the source?
Avoid using secondary sources simply to confirm your thesis. If a secondary source only confirms your thesis, then your thesis isn’t significant to a scholarly community. Ask yourself: am I using this secondary source in a way that builds upon that author’s ideas?
This assignment should be 8-10 pages in length, single-spaced, typed in 12-point font, and set to 1” margins.
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