Your research paper should be an argumentative essay that makes a specific claim about one of the course readings. The claim should be made by applying specific schools of literary criticism from the “Critical Strategies for Reading” section of our textbook. Support this claim and argument in a well-developed, well-written, and well-organized essay of at least 2000 words (roughly 6-8 typed, double-spaced pages). To support your argument, incorporate quotes, summaries, or paraphrases from at least five sources accessed through the GMC library. In order for you to succeed in this assignment, read and reread the following directions:
-Many of the writers we cover in this class might be difficult to find information on through the GMC library. Because of this, I have narrowed down the list of authors you are allowed to write about. You MUST choose one of the following authors as the topic for your paper: Tim O’Brien, Jamaica Kincaid, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Anne Bradstreet, Edwin Arlington Robinson, William Blake, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Susan Glaspell, or Henrik Isben. You are not allowed to write about any other not on this list. Note that some of these authors are covered late in the course, so you will want to read ahead to find authors that interest you.
-Use your textbook as a resource. Review the “Critical Strategies for Reading” section in the back of our textbook pages 2041-2064 and the “Reading and Writing Process” section pages 2065-2116.
-Reread the texts you loved or had difficulty with and take careful notes: brainstorm, journal, free-write, and research with those questions in mind. All of these things will help you narrow down your topic.
-Once you have decided on a topic, begin doing preliminary research (you will need to do a lot of research for this assignment anyway). Read what other literary critics have said. This will help you to further narrow down your topic, and even to find some of the sources you will end up using in the paper. Remember that you are a literary critic too—this means you should feel free to question and disagree with the interpretations you read.
-Make sure your thesis is an arguable one, something that readers might actually agree or disagree with. Don’t be afraid to take a leap and put forward a new, creative, and/or unique interpretation. Remember that any argument can be a good one if you properly support it with evidence from the text.
-Your paper must incorporate information from outside sources found through the GMC library. Remember that you have three methods for incorporating outside information into any paper: you can quote (use the source’s exact words), paraphrase (put the source’s words into your own words), or summarize (boil down information from a source to a 1-2 sentence summary in your own
-Avoid unnecessary plot summary and biographical information. Assume that your reader has already read the work you are discussing, and assume that your reader knows important information about the author’s life already.
-Play the numbers game. Remember that your paper must be at least 2,000 words (not counting the Works Cited), and the paper must include at least 5 sources accessed from the GMC library. Note that sources like Wikipedia, Sparknotes, and other open-web sources are not appropriate for this paper. Conduct your research through the library like a real researcher, rather than relying on Google to find open-web sources that may not be appropriate.
-MLA formatting for paper style, in-text citations, and the Works Cited is a significant part of this paper. Review the sample essays in our textbook, the Purdue OWL MLA section (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/), and other MLA guides for examples of what your paper should look like.
-Organize your argument to maximize its effectiveness. Your introduction should include a thesis. Each paragraph of your paper should include a topic sentence that references your thesis. Each sentence in each paragraph should directly support that paragraph’s topic sentence.
-Finally, don’t forget the little things. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation should be perfect. Edit and revise your work. Manage your time efficiently to allow yourself the opportunity to read and reread your final paper multiple times.
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