Final Paper: Researched Analysis Paper
Due via email, date TBA
For this assignment, write an approximately seven page essay that presents your own in-depth interpretation of a particular thematic or technical aspect of one or more of the books and/or films on our syllabus. 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. You will need to incorporate at least TWO outside sources into this essay; only one of these sources can be a webpage source.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that this project is analytical and 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 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.
The content of your final paper should mainly consist of an interpretive argument about the text(s) you have chosen to examine; 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 primary work(s) 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 essay. 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. (For a sample essay in MLA format, please see http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/rickard/RickardEssay.htm).
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 the catalog and databases on the Library's research by subject pages: researchbysubject.bucknell.edu. Remember, you do not need to do extensive research for this essay; two or three supplementary sources will be sufficient as a minimum. You should not conduct all of your research for this paper only on the internet; when you use the internet for research, you should be especially careful about the credibility and integrity of your sources. Attributing sources by name is always important.
Be careful using online sources! Internet sources must be listed in your "Works Cited" with a working URL or I will not consider them valid sources. You may not use or cite wikipedia.org, sparknotes.com, or other non-academic resources in your research.
This assignment should help you learn about research techniques that will be useful to you throughout your college years. It's important that you learn how to use sources correctly and responsibly. I want to work closely with you to be sure that you feel comfortable with these ideas and procedures, so please come talk with me if you have questions about the proper way(s) to perform and handle research.