Research Essay Assignment

01 Nov

Research Essay Assignment

Minimum 6 Pages, Minimum 2 secondary scholarly sources, Due 11/10

The purpose of this assignment is twofold:  To demonstrate your deepening understanding of literature and its purpose in the world, and to help you to master the long form essay.


The Process

  • You may choose to study any text or texts of literature whether in our textbooks or not. Choose what interests you the most, not what seems easiest.
  • Read that text or texts thoroughly, and develop a deep understanding of the text(s) on your own terms.
  • Research the scholarly response to said text(s), identify what has already been said regarding the work you’re reading.
  • Develop a debatable thesis that adds to the literary conversation.
  • Support said thesis with close readings of the text(s). Find passages that prove your point and that you can explain in your paper.
  • Use the scholarly sources you researched to contextualize your argument and bolster your argument. Conversely you may also disagree with sources and explain why you think they’re wrong.
  • Organize your thoughts into a clear and coherent outline.
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise again.
  • Show it to me, get my thoughts. Keep revising.
  • Submit a final draft through Moodle on or before 11/10, 11:59PM

Potential Methods of Interpretation

These are by no means the only things you can write about; rather, this list is meant to help show you the kinds of topics you might consider.

  • Comparison with another work of literature or art @*—Much like your Cross-Critical Essay, you may compare two works of art, suggest surprising connections, and use those connections to discuss the deeper meaning of one or both works, the society that created them, etc.
  • Co-interpretation @—If you find no research about your work, you can suggest an innovative or surprising reading, and support that reading through historical context, and by using examples of similar readings applied to similar texts
  • Reinterpretation*—If in your research you find that your reading of a text is markedly different from those of other scholars, you can debate this point in your paper, arguing that your interpretation is more accurate or useful. You would then suggest the deeper meaning of your reinterpretation.
  • Historic Contextualization @*—You may discuss how a work of literature either affects or is affected by historical events surrounding it. Your assertion must be debatable, and surprising.
  • Biographical Interpretation*—You may research the life of the author you’ve read and argue in some way that the details of their life affected or were affected by the literature they wrote.
  • Theoretical Application @*—You may discuss how an established literary theory (Marxist Theory, Feminist Theory, Deconstructionist Theory, Postcolonial Theory, etc.) applies to work of literature, how using that theoretical framework changes the way the work is interpreted and its meaning.


Topics with an * work well with older more established literature.  Topics with an @ work well with contemporary texts.


This paper is worth 200 points.  Those points will be allocated thusly

PAPER 150 points

  • Thesis: Must be strong, debatable, and clear.
  • Use of Sources: Must have at least 4 outside secondary sources, must quote from at least 2 in the paper.  Sources should be used to strengthen arguments or provide means for debate.  Must be properly incorporated into the argument.  Must include a Works Cited Page and properly cite sources when quoted.
  • Close Reading: Must effectively quote from the primary source(s).  Must interpret quoted passages.  Close reading must support argument.
  • Strength of Argument: Thesis must be supported with distinct, effective arguments.  Arguments must be clear, debatable, and effective.
  • Editing and Professionalism: Must be flawlessly revised, must be professional and academic in tone, word choice, etc.

PROCESS 50 points (see below)

Schedule and Timing

To be successful.  You have to work in steps and over time.  You can’t get all this done in a weekend.  To help you with that, 50 points of your grade will be based on your completion of several milestones.  To receive these points, complete the task by the date given.  No late work will be accepted for these points.

  • Topic: Post to Moodle what you plan on working on, both the text(s) you will use and how you plan to interpret them. It’s okay if you’re not sure or if you want to change your mind a little later on, but you need to start working on this very soon.  Post this to the Research Topic Forum on Moodle by  10am 10/25 before class begins 5 points total.
  • Research Log. Create a thread for your paper.  As you research, reply to your thread every time you find a new source.  Include in each post:
  • All relevant bibliographical information (doesn’t have to be formatted correctly yet, but you have to find it)
  • A short description of what the article seems to be about
  • A single sentence about how you found that resource (i.e. library website, jstor, etc.)

Find a minimum of 5 potential sources, all of which must be SCHOLARLY.  Each complete post about a SCHOLARLY resource=3 points.  15 points total possible.  All posts must be made by 10am 11/3.

  • Annotated Bibliography: List all the sources you plan to use in your work, along with a three-sentence description of each, explaining what the source says and how it should figure into your paper. Use MLA format.  Turn this thru Moodle 10am 11/6.  10 points
  • Outline: Make a detailed outline that maps out the arguments you plan to make, along with the evidence you plan to use. Your outline should tell me at what point in your paper you plan to use close reading and each of your scholarly sources.  Turn this in thru Moodle 10am 11/8. 20 points

Final Essays are due 10am 11/10.  You will turn in your essays to TurnItIn through Moodle.

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Posted by on November 1, 2017 in Academic Writing



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