Literature Research Paper Assignment

FINAL ESSAY ASSIGNMENT – Research Paper – Literature Option
~ 2,500 words, 4 sources (minimum) + literary analysis

The research paper should be about 10 pages long and should include a thoughtful discussion of at least one of the key works of literature from class, plus at least four outside sources, as well as your own views. We encourage everyone to discuss topics with us before they begin writing. The difference between this and the philosophy option is that you must demonstrate more in-depth textual analysis of literature, while still situating your discussion within a framework of theory and historical context.

The essay will be written in three stages. By the beginning of class on Monday, the 2nd of October, you will submit a 2-page Paper Proposal and annotated bibliography of at least ten sources. By November 8th (at the beginning of class) you will submit a first draft of 8 pages that includes at least five outside sources. The final draft will be turned in on Monday November 20th at the beginning of class.

GENERAL ASSIGNMENT: You should delve into detailed textual analysis supported by a theoretical framework. Shape your analyses of passages into a sustained, developed argument that takes into account both existential literature (either those we read or similar novels you read on your own) and theories of existentialism (again either from class or of a similar vein – be careful not to use theories that are not peer-reviewed or scholarly). You might use a literary text to “test” a particular aspect of the theory, or you might use theory to see how it helps you understand one or more works of literature.

WRITING STANDARDS: Your work should measure up to your own (and your professors’) exacting standards of the best argument you can write in the time you have. Pay attention to grammar, mechanics, citation formatting, etc. (see below)

ORIGINALITY: Be sure you have YOUR own focus, argument, or position – for instance an original reading of a text or insight into a theory, aspect or movement within existentialism. Use theory as a tool to enhance your argument. Do not let quotes become the main voice in your essay. Use your analysis to make and prove a position of your own about the literature or theory in question (i.e. you must have a thesis that you argue). It may be your insight into the unique ways the literature and theories inform each other that is your controlling thesis for the overall essay (in this case).

Guidelines for the Paper Proposal and Bibliography:

Your paper proposal will be, at least, two pages long.  It should include a thesis statement explaining what you will be trying to show in the paper.  If you are having a difficult time formulating your thesis, we suggest that you frame your thesis in terms of two or three questions that your paper will try to answer.  After articulating your thesis, please explain how your paper will go about examining your thesis.  It should also include a paragraph about why this topic is important and interesting.

You should choose a topic that is closely related to the material covered in the course.  We suggest that you write on the ideas expressed by one or two of the authors that we are discussing in class, but this is not a requirement.  If you wish to write on an author who is not covered in the course, however, you must clear the topic with us before you write your proposal.  Even if you are writing on one of the authors covered in this course we suggest that you discuss your proposal with us before you write it.

Included with your paper proposal will be a bibliography with at least 10 references.  Along with each reference you must include a sentence or two about how this source will be used in your paper.  It should be clear, from looking at the bibliography, that you have read at least part of the article or book that you are including in your bibliography.

The thesis proposal will count for 10% of your final grade.  Failure to turn in the proposal on time will lead to the lowering of your paper grade by one full letter grade.

Guidelines for the First Draft of the Research Paper:

The first draft of your research paper must be at least 8 pages long and include a discussion of at least five sources.  Before turning in the first draft ask yourself the following questions.  First, do you have a clear thesis and have you articulated this thesis on the first page of your paper?  Second, how does each of your paragraphs contribute to the exploration of your paper.  Third, have you used outside sources to help you explore your thesis?  You should use footnote or end notes to document your sources

In grading these papers, we look for clarity of expression, familiarity with the texts and thoughtful and original critical analysis.  We will also be looking to see how well the student uses the secondary literature.

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