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E3. 1102. Research Paper Assignment


									                                                        Research Paper

Due Dates:
Topic Selection & Annotations of Primary Source                March 24, 330 pm                              2%
Paragraph Summary of Primary Source                            March 29, 330 pm                              3%
Intro w/Thesis (Optional)                                      April 03, 659 pm                              n/a
Annotated Bibliography                                         April 07, 1159 pm                             5%
Visit SSC for Essay 3                                          April 08, 1259 pm (time the SSC closes!)      3%
Research Paper, 1000 words                                     April 14, 559 pm                              12%
PowerPoint Presentation                                        April 19, 330 pm                              5%
Revised Research Paper, 1500 words                             April 28, 1159 pm                             10%

The Assignment:
Drawing upon scholarly research, compose an original scholarly interpretation based around an important work of literature
or a significant moment in American culture (not history). Pick something you like and the process will be easier. Use your
textbook to discover an author you like if you don’t already know which you like best. I will be happy to explore topics with
you if needed! There are other non-literary topics here as well. The trick is to pick something you think you can write 1500
words on, find 5-6 secondary sources on (two of which must be scholarly sources), and still be able to have enough opinions
about without falling into the cut-and-paste trap!

These are BROAD TOPICS. You must limit them to a narrower thesis after you decide which topic and which approach you
want to take (depending on the sources/evidence you find). You will need to FORMULATE a thesis, and run both the thesis
and the topic by me before proceeding!

A research paper must be shaped like a long essay with multiple paragraphs in the body. However, the body paragraphs are
filled with cited examples from sources to back up/support your ideas, NOT just your own opinions and ideas. The
organization, style, and position of the thesis and the way it is supported is YOURS, but the data/information you use, like a
lawyer, is EVIDENCE from credible secondary sources, not blogs, not quote cites, not essay forums, not pay-for-it cites!

Your thesis must present a viewpoint whether your topic is on literature or about a non-literary topic below (a non-literary
topic must still be centered around a work of literature as in the book banning by some libraries or the controversy of cuss
words, the book burning during the Holocaust, the effect of a book upon the culture’s day/era, etc.)


Your essay must prove your thesis through an appropriate use of summaries, quotes, and paraphrases from both your
primary and secondary sources. Papers that do not contain textual evidence in the form of summaries, quotes and
paraphrases will not receive a passing grade. Your quotes and paraphrases must be cited in MLA parenthetical style.

Your essay must begin with a fully-developed introduction that includes a hook, some background information, and an
original thesis about your work of literature.

Your essay must end with a fully developed conclusion.

Your essay must contain a final Works Cited page written in MLA style.

You will need a catchy title to draw the reader in. “My Research Paper” or “Essay on Brilliant Author” or “Examining Brilliant
Story” are all going to lead to some lost points. (This seems a shame when it only takes a few minutes to think up an original

Writing about literature is done in present tense. Avoid second person (“you”) which can so easily be found by control + F
(the search key).

Well-written papers that use scholarly sources exclusively will receive grades of A or B; bibliographies that rely more heavily
on popular, non-scholarly media such as encyclopedias, websites and media reviews will probably receive grades of C and
Do not wait until the last minute. Begin early. Did you read that?

Stop zoning out! This is worth a large percentage of your final grade!

But Mr. Silverman, this is so hard! “Yes, yes it is.”

For further help, see: (for help choosing a topic, organizing, and so

Format requirements:
Minimum length 1050 words; maximum length 2050                       Include the following in the upper right hand side of the
words for ESSAY #3. You will need to add 500 words for               first page: your name; the title of your paper; the number
the Revision Essay #4 (min 1550, max. 2950) so keep that             of words in your paper; and your professor’s name.
in mind if you tend to go overboard or underboard (???).
Of course, you can always edit and trim!                             Number each page, preferably like this: “Silverman 2”, but
                                                                     if you don’t know how, no problem.
Format: typed, double-spaced, with 1” margins, 12 pt.
Times font or something similar, left justified.                     Proofread carefully. Use your spell check function and
                                                                     your grammar check function on your word processor. The
Reminder: parenthetical citations and Works Cited page               word count should be on the bottom of the Word screen or you can click
must follow MLA style.                                               on “file” if you have an older version of the software.

                                             What kinds of topics are good ones?
                    The best topics are ones that originate out of your own reading of a work of literature,
         and while you are free to roam the open road of literature, here are some common approaches to consider:

Generally Speaking: (1) A discussion of a work's characters: are they realistic, symbolic, and/or historically-based? (2) The
impact, importance, or effectiveness of a book. Why were these works written? How did society react at the time and later
on? How does the work hold up today, and is there any chance of it fading from history? (3) An analysis of a specific image or
symbol occurring in several works (Ex. the use of moon imagery in certain plays, poems, novels) and the reason(s) for this. (4)
A study of the social, political, or economic context in which a work was written — how does the context influence the work?

A Little More Specific but still broad enough for YOU to come up with a specific topic and a narrow thesis:

1. Yusef Komunyakaa: A soldier remembers Vietnam through poetry. (or Tim O’Brien and realism of war through his fiction)

2. Alice Walker: The struggle of her characters or themes in her selected fiction. (LO: 912-967, a whole mini-section on her!)

3. Marge Piercy: Women’s Liberation/Women’s Rights as reflected in her poetry (3-4 poems).

4. Rita Dove, Lucille Clifton, Or Nikki Giovanni’s poetry: The African-American woman’s view of herself and the world
through her poetry.

5. Langston Hughes OR Derek Walcott’s poetry: The African-American experience and struggles as revealed in selected
poetry or fiction.

6. The Harlem Renaissance and the role it played for today’s culture. {The link here is for secondary school but it collects so
much useful information that I think it will prove most valuable in your search for a specific topic and a narrower thesis!}
7. Amy Tan: The merging of an Asian heritage with an American life in her fiction. (LO: pg 637 – 693, a whole mini-section on
her!) But pick a story you have not previously used, which may take a little research.

8. Margaret Atwood: Feminist perspectives in her fiction.

9. Leslie Silko: The Native American experience as it is revealed in her selected fiction and or poetry or magical realism in her

10. Jhumpa Lahiri and this “new” cultural experience as it is revealed in her fiction or the role any immigrant community plays
in American culture, American media, and the American Arts (ie literature, art, film like Slumdog Millionaire, etc.) Again, pick
a different story from one you previously used.

11. Sandra Cisneros: The Latino experience revealed. (a very easy writer to read, very clear cut, yet her figurative language is
extremely beautiful!)

12. If you speak another language, I would be willing to consider a major writer from that culture. If you spoke Spanish, for
example, you could consider Pablo Neruda’s work and how his political environment affected his poems, even his famous
love poems, or you could consider how something has been translated into English and the faults and problems that lie

13. The development of the genre of horror/mystery/science-fiction within the last two centuries. This might be best done as
a compare and contrast, picking a work from a long time ago, something significant like a work that helped found the current
genre to a work that is more modern and close to your own era. For example, Poe to King, The Maltese Falcon to Darkness
Take My Hand or some other modern mystery, the influence of Christie onto the genre of mystery, Stoker to Anne Rice, Lord
of the Flies to Ender’s Game, H. G. Wells to Asimov or Clarke or someone even more sci-fi contemporary. Try to pick author’s
who have won some awards, have lots of books, and been around for awhile, or you will be dragging through the library
looking for hard-to-find secondary sources!

        a.       How about the development of science-fiction into main stream literature with such movies as the Star
Wars series, Matrix trilogy, Avatar, and other movies that not only went main stream and became part of our cultural identity
but became accepted by the Hollywood awards.

           b.      The role science fiction played in the 50s and 60s as a mirror for the culture of the time, like Ray Bradbury,
Asmiov, Clarke, Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, etc.

14. A story or book that is the first to do something. Did you know many inventions came out of fiction? Here is a list of firsts
in sci-fi, like submarines, cell phones, space travel, Home Entertainment systems, computer viruses, the waterbed, a taser,
cyberspace, computer worms, screensavers, and more. Look around and see what you can see. Here is another list. There are
plenty out there. Surprise yourself!

15. Discuss Edgar Allan Poe’s enduring popularity. Why does he continue to be so popular and so widely read and studied?
FOUR of his stories are on the greatest American stories of all time list! (lots of papers on Poe so be careful before diving in!)
He was one of the first to write a detective mystery (sure, it involved an ape but still…. and he helped shape the genre of
American horror)
16. Investigate the American expatriate community in Paris in the 1920s. Who were the members of this group (Ernest
Hemingway was one) who were sometimes called the “Lost Generation”? Why were they called the “Lost Generation”? What
was their relationship to each other? How did their close affiliation affect their writing? What compelled them to live abroad?
What effect did this group have on Hemingway, in particular?

17. What is Hemingway’s attitude toward women in “Hills Like White Elephants” (LO: pg 297)? In what way might the story
be related to his own life? What were Hemingway’s relationships with women?

18. One of your favorite topics: How about comparing and contrasting a movie to a book or better yet, a story? You are going
to have to dig deep and go beyond the obvious similarities and differences and try to uncover why the writer/director of the
movie made the choices they made in casting, scenery, the left out sections, etc. It could be a King story or a Ray Bradbury
story, so long as you can convince me that the work has some literary merit within its genre—it does not have to be Dickens
or Shakespeare to be important!

19. One of my favorite topics: 50 Books that Changed the World or the 25 Most Influential Books of the Past 25 Years
(according to Mental Floss)

20. Looking for a literary criticism site, well, here is a good one that has a lot of information even if it is designed for
secondary school:

21. Tired of all this literary nonsense? Then you can examine some cultural artifact which you feel shows something
significant about American society. The details of the artifact must speak to more than just their literal meaning and must
obviously go beyond a definition and inform about the time period and American way of thinking. It could also be a
significant moment in American history that is often overlooked but has come to be influential and to symbolize something
important to later generations.

         a.        Other topics include: Woodstock, Scat music (invented by Louis Armstrong but you can focus on later
artists), Challenger disaster, QVC/Home Shopping Network, Waco, grunge music of the 90’s, 3-D movies (then and now), Iran-
Contra, Victory Gardens, Nickelodeons (not the TV channel), War of the Worlds radio program, iphones, Facebook, Napster,
disco music, J. Howard Miller's "We Can Do It!" which is commonly referred to as Rosie the Riveter, Atari game systems and
the birth of the video game era, hula hoops or maybe the “fake” quiz shows of the 50’s, jukeboxes, boomboxes, Pac-Man or
Mario, the pet rock, or the affects of television commercials on young children who watch approximately 30000 commercials
per year, or how about the Disney phenomenon (is it really ‘good’ for kids to be immersed in the princess phenomenon?).

The majority of your paper must be your own ideas and reflections—that is the tricky part! It might help to put your idea
into a question first, then rethink it and put the thought into a complete thesis sentence. For example, was Pac-Man a
symbol for the 80’s uncontrollable capitalist urge to consume? Did the pet rock show the shallowness of late 70’s culture
or was it an example of a brilliant entrepreneur?

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