Literary Research Paper Assignment
This assignment will have:
* an arguable thesis about some aspect of a literary text that you have read for this course
* a focus on the text as a text (it should not be focused on the "real world")
* close reading as a means of supporting its argument
* scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources as a means of supporting its argument. Two scholarly
sources are the minimum.
Your argument should not be a sociological or anthropological argument.
Your topic should be a new, creative analysis of some aspect of the text you are writing about.
Your central argument should offer us a new understanding of the text. It does not have to be an
earthshattering, life-changing realization - the ideal paper will propose a new way of reading
some portion of a text, and in doing so offer us a new insight into the text as a whole.
Your primary support for your argument will be your close reading of the text itself.
Your secondary support for your argument will come through your use of scholarly sources (see
Topics to avoid:
* Compare/contrast essays. Unless you are able to show that one text actually influenced the
other, there is no real reason to compare two texts.
* Don't have a sociological, historical or anthropological focus. You might write about how an
author uses history to convey a particular message, but you may not focus on the historical or
1. Close reading and textual analysis.
2. Scholarly sources that support your claim, but which do not make your argument for you.
Scholarly texts are peer-reviewed journals. They are not newspapers or mass market
paperbacks, and certainly not web sources or people online. We will go over this concept in
class. You will find sources to back (again, this means support—not make the point for you)
certain aspects of your claim, or which provide background for your argument, or which
disagree with your claim about the text.
You will cite all sources using MLA Format. Your paper must include proper parenthetical
citations and a Works Cited page. We will go over MLA citation in class, and you have your
handbook and OWL as a reference.
*A Few Notes about Required Sources: Your sources must be reputable and reliable. Good
sources include the following:
Some websites (We will be discussing internet sources during the research workshop.)
You may use popular sources but they will not count toward your minimum and you must
identify your intent in using them. Remember that a well researched paper will include a variety
of sources. Also, remember that for academic papers, books and scholarly journals tend to
provide the best information.
All of your sources must be a current (2001 or later) book or article from a scholarly journal.
While you will also reference primary sources (your texts), these do not count toward your three
As always, standard font (Times New Roman or Garamond 12-point; not Courier), doublespaced, one-inch margins. As always, no extensive headers or half-page titles.
You should turn in a Works Cited page in MLA format, which does not count as part of the length
Writing to Inform: Annotated Bibliography Assignment
To prepare you for the next assignment you’ll need to do some research. One of the more useful
tools in conducting research is the annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography combines
the citations found in the References list at the end of documents in APA format with annotations
about each of the sources. For this assignment, you will construct an annotated bibliography
based upon the community issue or problem that you have selected to focus on for the
Purpose: An annotated bibliography is an organizing tool that is helpful when working on a
research project. An effective annotated bibliography is used to compile research sources in
one location and provide the researcher with quick access to the information contained in each
Audience: This assignment should be directed at your scholarly peers, and you may assume
that they have only a casual familiarity with your topic or issue.
Content/Subject: Your annotated bibliography will consist of the sources that you have deemed
relevant to your topic and/or question(s) of inquiry. While you may encounter sources that are
not relevant or do not fit the scope of your project while researching, for the purposes of this
assignment, you will only include the ones that you find useful and relevant.
Cite the source in proper MLA format. The citations should be organized in alphabetical order
Follow with a brief annotation that summarizes the source (approx. 3-4 sentences). You may
quote from the source, but do not copy and paste the abstract. All of the annotations should be
in your own words.
In 1 or 2 sentences, explain the source’s relevance and importance to your issue.
Constraints: The annotated bibliography is a fairly rigid genre. Your citations must adhere to
MLA format. This will be one of the central components of the grade for this assignment.
Failure to follow MLA format exactly will harm your grade.
The annotations for each source should follow an academic style. This means that you must
construct, with elevated and sophisticated language, correct grammatical sentences that
effectively summarize what each source has to say. Additionally, you should explain how each
source is relevant to the issue that you have selected and what it adds to your knowledge about
Specific guidelines to follow when completing this assignment are:
5 sources of various types (book, article, website, etc.).
Sources focused around a narrowed issue or question of inquiry.
Adherence to MLA format for all citations.
Sources in alphabetical order according to author.
Thoughtful and complete annotations.
Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
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