Intro to Literature and Research
MAJOR RESEARCH ESSAY
ASSIGNMENT LENGTH: 1200-1800 WORDS
- Rough Draft 20%
- Final Draft:
- Essay 50%
- Citation 15%
- Works Cited 15%
This project is designed to make you read texts in-depth, to become familiar with the language and contexts, and to use information gained from this reading to write an analytical essay describing how the text functions through a discussion of its various literary elements.
To be successful in this project, you will need to:
- Demonstrate awareness of the elements that make a story/poem/drama
- Use evidence in the text to show that you can appropriately apply this knowledge in your essay to create a relevant and interesting argument.
- Demonstrate an effective use of research skills to understand and reflect on other’s critical points of view about your text.
Please read these instructions carefully so that you know exactly what is expected from this assignment. There are four phases to the project:
Phase I (November 11): REVIEW THE ASSIGNMENT, AND SELECT WHICH TOPIC YOU WILL ADDRESS.
For this essay, you will choose one of the following research topics:
- SHORT STORIES: In “How Books Bounce”(an autobiographical essay – p 428) and in the four Dagoberto Gilb stories in this anthology (including “Romero’s Shirt” on p258), the life described in the story is often fraught with volatile economic and domestic instability, and yet these challenges are typically met by shrewd strength, sound sturdiness, and determination. Do you think this ultimately adds up to a grim or a positive perspective on life? Discuss two of Gilb’s stories, along with “How Books Bounce” to consider this question.
In this essay you will use the framework of Biographical Criticism to examine how much of the story is influenced by the author’s unique experiences. How much of what you see in Gilb’s own story is reflected in his fiction?
- POETRY: Review the chapter in your textbook “A Thematic Case Study: The World of Work” (p 985-995). This chapter contains many poems on the subject of Work. There are also many contemporary songs about work. Choose one of the poems in this chapter and in terms of poetic elements – such as diction, tone, imagery, figures of speech, sound, and rhythm – compare and contrast its themes with the lyrics of a song you admire. You will use Marxist Criticism as part of your analysis, examining practical factors such as the ways in which economics and politics influence the author’s motives or options while writing the text. You could also identify and analyze the sociological content of the literature – the ways in which authors or audiences may use texts directly or indirectly to promote or critique certain views or values.
- DRAMA: Chances are you have heard of the Oedipus complex, a term that surfaces now and again in popular culture. But you may not know that the seminal psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who based his idea of the complex on Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King, first identified the Oedipus complex. Since Freud identified the Oedipus complex in his Interpretation of Dreams, his theory has shaped psychoanalysis both as it relates to the study of human psychology and as it relates to the theory of psychoanalysis as a form of literary criticism.
For this essay, you will examine August Wilson’s play “Fences” for ways in which you see the Oedipus complex, or a version of it, at work. Write a paper in which you examine how the Oedipus complex appears in that work, even if it doesn’t literally align with the circumstances of Oedipus the King. If you choose, you may write the essay by comparing and contrasting the play Oedipus the King with “Fences.”
Phase 2: (Nov 11 – Nov 30) GATHER INFORMATION, ANSWER QUESTIONS, FORM THESIS, and WRITE ROUGH DRAFT
Now that you have chosen your research topic, you will need to obtain further information. You will do this by reading your texts multiple times, defining words you do not know, identifying various elements within the text that you can work with.
First, are there words in the text you do not know the meaning of? If so, locate the dictionary meanings of these words. Create a document with these words and their meanings to act as a glossary to your to reference while you are working on the essay.
Second, you need to look at all of the information that you’ve gathered, both through the reading of your text(s) and the outside research.
- What patterns are you seeing or discovering?
- What seem to be the most interesting, or most important, aspects of the text?
- What themes, images, formal structures can you identify?
- Is there other information that might give further insight into this text?
- What have you learned through this process? What was your initial response to the story/poem/drama, and what is your thinking now?
Third, create a WORKING THESIS, and a proposed OUTLINE for your paper, including the specific ideas you want to convey, and the evidence FROM THE TEXT that you will use to support your argument.
Fourth, ensure that you do additional outside research. This was discussed in class, and you will be marked on your inclusion of secondary sources. Academic research must be demonstrated in your essay, cited correctly both in-text and in your Works Cited page.
Now that you have done a lot of reading, thinking, and planning, you will produce a rough draft.
Phase 3 – Submit your rough draft on November 30, 2015
In this week you will have the option to attend a conference with the instructor. Be prepared to show all of your information that you have gathered, as well as your thesis and outline. Your instructor will review this, and work with you to create a strong thesis and plan for your essay. If you choose not to do this, you should plan on taking your rough draft to the Writing Center or submit it on SmartThinking. You must edit and proofread your essay before turning in a final draft!
Phase 4 – Complete your essay
After the conference, you should have a good working plan for completing your assignment. The last element is taking your rough draft, with comments and suggestions from your professor, the Writing Center, SmarThinking or a helpful relative, and then writing a formal academic essay that analyzes and interprets text[s] you have chosen. This essay must be between 1200-1800 words. Be sure to reference the MLA Style Guide (Lester is an excellent resource) for formatting guidelines.
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