English 101: Researched Analysis Assignment
Suggested length: Approximately 8-10 double-spaced typed pages
DUE VIA EMAIL BY MIDNIGHT, WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2011
You may choose to do this paper on any works of your choosing, so long as they are on our syllabus. This paper should present your own in-depth interpretation of a particular thematic or technical aspect of the work(s) you choose. You may focus on one particular feature of one work or you may present your own indepth study of a theme or technique as it is used in two or more of the works we've read. For example, you might analyze the role a particular image or symbol plays in the work(s) you've picked.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that this essay is argumentative. That is to say, you'll need to convince the reader that the topic you're presenting is significant and that it works the way you say it does. How convincing you are depends on how well you use the material at your disposal. That material should be drawn primarily from the work you've chosen, but you must also consult at least one or two secondary research sources. You must be careful, however, to use your research to support your own point; avoid simply reporting what other researchers have said.
This paper should be mainly an interpretive paper; it is not a review or summary of criticism on a work. Use material from any secondary resources you select to support your interpretation or to raise additional critical issues. I urge you to write a rough draft or outline of your argument before you begin to read any criticism.
Prewriting: Before you write a first draft, you should reread the work carefully, with an eye towards investigating, supporting, and thinking through your topic. You may well find points that relate to your topic that you haven't discovered before. Take notes as you reread, carefully noting page numbers for references you wish to come back to. If you extract a quotation to use in your essay, write it down carefully, word-for-word and punctuation mark-by-punctuation mark. If you find you are collecting too many examples as support for your thesis, select the strongest examples only for use in your essay.
Evaluation: I will judge your performance by how well you do what your thesis states as a goal for your paper. Writing style and organization count as well as content, so be sure to begin with a thorough outline and to leave yourself time to revise your draft(s) and to proofread your final draft carefully. I have found that many students have trouble incorporating source material into their own writing and that this often results in the confusion of the student's own good ideas in a jumble of unattributed, unexplained quotations. PLEASE come and check with me if you are unsure of how to handle your reference sources as you work them into your paper.
You should follow your direct quotations with the appropriate page number from the text in parentheses. The final page of your paper should be a "Works Cited" page in proper MLA format. Remember, quotations longer than four lines should be presented in single-spaced blocks indented in the text.
Research Sources: RESEARCH SHOULD NOT BE THE PRIMARY FOCUS OF THIS PAPER! Bertrand Library has a strong collection of books and periodicals that deal with literature. You may also wish to make use of "Article Finder" and other useful electronic databases available from the LIT homepage in myBucknell.
You may not use any sources for this paper that come from the open internet -- e.g., Wikipedia, SparkNotes, MyDictionary.com, etc. I want you to use our wonderful library facilities and prefer that you actually work in the library as you prepare your draft.
Remember, you do not need to do extensive research for this essay; two or three supplementary sources will be sufficient as a minimum.
Tips for Your Thesis Statement
The thesis statement tells the main point of your research paper and explains how it will be organized. It is NOT the first sentence of the assignment, but when you start to write you should already know your thesis to help set up the plan for the paper. It can be one or two sentences, or a paragraph, and should talk about the topic you are either going to inform your readers about or argue from a perspective. These steps can help you get started:
1. Establish an issue, problem, or question that your essay will address or answer. A topic with a little controversy that can be debated often helps. Perhaps something your readers have not previously considered. Ask yourself the kinds of questions someone else might ask you about the topic.
2. Take a position on the issue. If you are arguing one side over another in your paper, make sure to say that in your thesis statement. If you are just informing your readers about a topic, make sure you state clearly what you plan to inform.
3. Introduce supporting points/topics to back up your thesis with evidence. At least three supporting points will help.
Example Thesis Statements
"Adopting a vegetarian diet will improve health, help local farmers, and reduce the carbon footprint."
"Light pollution is a serious problem that negatively affects animals, humans, and plant life."
"World travel is an essential element in any young person's well-rounded education."