Literary Research Paper Due 8/20

English 102 Summer 2015 Literary Research Paper
Directions: Using one of the critical literary theories we have discussed or will discuss in class,
write an analysis of one of the works of literature that is included in our textbook or on our class
syllabus (you may, in some cases, write about more than one work). First, you should formulate
a research question about your work/works of literature that incorporates the theory you
have chosen. Then, do research to explore what other critics who use the theory you have
chosen have said about your question, and use what you find out as you research to support
your own interpretation of the text, or to propose a new one.
Length: 6-8 pages and 2000 words (you may include works cited in the word count, but not
the page count). This means the body of your paper (not the works cited page) must be down to
the bottom of the sixth page when the paper is formatted correctly. No paper that is not 2000
words AND six correctly formatted pages will be graded, and you will need to upload an
essay that meets minimum requirements. This new version will be counted as a use of your late
Sources: In your essay, you must cite least three outside, peer-reviewed critical sources,
either by quoting them directly or by paraphrase. Quotes and sources should be directly relevant
to the topic you are discussing. Appropriate sources include articles from journals that specialize
in literary criticism, books of literary criticism, and in some rare cases, websites devoted to
literary criticism. (General encyclopedias, whether they are online or in print, are not
appropriate sources for this assignment, and I strongly caution you against using Google or
other general search engines as your primary method of finding resources. Use the specialized
library databases instead.) If you don't know whether or not a source is an appropriate "outside
critical source," see me.
Quotations: I am expecting you to have at least one quotation from the work(s) of literature you
are discussing in each body paragraph of your essay. (Though you may, of course, have more
than one quotation per paragraph.) Also, remember that you need to cite each of your outside
critical sources at least once. All quotations/citations must be in MLA format, and you will need
to include a complete works cited page that lists both the works of literature and the critical
articles you have cited on a separate page at the end of your essay. If you have questions about
how to format your quotations or do your works cited page, please refer to a handbook or your
text book, talk to me, or visit the library and speak with a librarian.
Formatting: Please refer to the formatting guide I gave you with your syllabus. Your essay
should be written in 12 Point Times New Roman font, have one-inch margins, and include your
name, date, class, assignment, and word count in the upper left-hand corner of the first page.
Summary vs. Analysis: I am expecting the bulk of your paper to be analysis, not summary.
Assume that your audience is familiar with the story you are discussing and keep summary to a
minimum, only using it when it is necessary to place your arguments within the context of the
Due Date: Thursday, 8/20 Upload to by 11:59
NOTE: No upload with more than a 30% originality score will be accepted, even if all quotes are
correctly cited and there is no plagiarism. You should upload your essay early in order to check
for plagiarism and make sure that your originality score is less than 30% so that you have time to
make changes if necessary.
Some tips on coming up with a question:
1. Start with a broad question.
For instance, you might start with a question like, "How do Marxist critics interpret Death of a
2. Narrow your focus to a specific character or theme.
As you do your research on Death of a Salesman, you may become fascinated by a particular
debate you see coming up over and over again in the critics you read, and you might change your
question to something along the lines of, “Is Miller’s depiction of the Loman family meant to be
an indictment of Middle Class American ‘bourgeois’ values and the system that supports them?”
Now that you have narrowed your focus to one specific question that comes at the text using a
Marxist critic’s terminology, the assignment should be much more manageable.
3. Remember, it is not your job to come up with the one and only interpretation of a work of
literature using the theory you choose. Instead, it is your job to propose possible interpretations,
to prove to your audience that those interpretations work, (make sense), and to explain to your
audience what your interpretation reveals about the work of literature.
Theories you may use: (All of these are in the handout I gave you.)
Formalism/New Criticism
Gender Studies/Feminism
Psychoanalytic Criticism (not discussed in class)
Reader Response Theory (not discussed in class)
Marxist/Materialist Theory
Historical/ New Historicist Criticism
What can I write about?
Any work from our syllabus/class work that you have not already written about in your first two
essays. You may, if you would like, write about more than one work from the same author, or
two works with similar themes/issues, especially in the case of short poems.
Any other work (poem, play, or short story) from our text book that we are not reading together
as a class. If you have a strong desire to write about a work not in our book, see me.