American Literature II: Semester Research Paper Final

Choose one theme tract at the beginning of the semester to follow through the literary readings for the term.  Your research paper will follow the progression in literature in this chosen theme tract through the realist/naturalist, modernist, and postmodernist periods.  For your research paper, you will analyze the significance of this theme as it moves through the periods we study and parallel this theme to a contemporary American produced book or story.  You will choose one piece of literature per period to analyze (each of these must be from our readings), but you may choose your own contemporary work of literature as long as it is American produced.

 

Thesis Topics:  For the most part, I want you to come up with your own connections and your own topics, but I will give you a few general examples listed here.  You will have to turn in a proposed outline that I can comment on if there are structural or topical problems, but otherwise, I want you to write about interesting connections you see in the literature.

Example topics:

  1. How do the pieces you choose exemplify the American ideal of (your discussion tract theme…race, war, feminism, heroics, patriotism) during the times in which they are produced?
  2. How do the pieces you choose become propaganda for or against (your discussion tract theme) idea?
  3. Why do the pieces you choose exemplify particularly American values of (your discussion tract theme)?
  4. What lesson does the progression of literature about (your discussion tract theme) teach today’s generation?
  5. How does the genre (poem, play, comic, graphic novel, short story, novel) of the piece affect the message about (your discussion tract theme)?

 

Parts of the Research Paper:

  1. Proposal Outline

Your proposal outline will need to be in MLA format and will need to have the following items on the submission:

  1. Proposed topic:  A short sentence about what you are addressing with your evolution of literature
  2. Working thesis:  A complete sentence that sets up the pieces you are planning to use and the argument you are planning

to make within the research paper.

  1. A complete outline: An outline detailing the purpose of each paragraph.  By the time you turn in the proposal outline,

you may not have read all the pieces, so do your best to choose pieces you might use and illustrate how you will use them.  The outline will need to have complete sentences for the large paragraph roman numerals, but can have notes/fragments for the paragraph details. (See example proposal outlines in Blackboard).

 

  1. Annotated Bibliography

Your annotated bibliography will help you pull examples from your primary sources and will help you begin to look at secondary critical sources to compile for use in your research paper.  Your annotated bibliography will need to be in MLA format and have the following items on the submission:

  1. Working thesis: if your thesis has changed or evolved from your original proposal, that is fine; you just need to have it listed here again
  2. Bibliographic Entries and Annotations for each primary source used (4 – one piece for the three main movements and one piece you choose from contemporary society): These annotations will need to summarize the piece, discuss its credibility (basically because it is the primary source, it is credible), and identify at least ONE quote from the piece and discuss how it will be useful toward your paper argument.
  3. Bibliographic Entries and Annotations for 4 secondary critical sources (must all be from the JSCC library books or databases): These annotations will need to summarize the piece (if it is a long book, obviously you can say that and then only summarize the section you looked at), discuss its credibility (look at the author credentials, the date of publication, the kind of publication, etc.), and identify at least TWO quotes from the piece and discuss how they will be useful toward supporting your paper argument.
  4. All bibliographic entries will need to be listed in ABC order by the first part of the entry

 

III.  Research Paper

Your research paper will be a 5-7 page analysis of your chosen theme over the course of the literature we look at for the semester.  As stated above, you may come up with your own topic and connections or you may start off with one of the topic suggestions above.  You must have a works cited page, 4 primary sources (the 4 pieces of literature you choose), and at least 3 secondary critical sources.

Introduction:  Choose ONE of the methods below to set up your introduction

Intro Type One Intro Type Two Intro Type Three Intro Type Four
I. Use a question to start the paragraph

II.  Answer that question somehow

III. Explain that answer into the topic of your discussion tract theme

IV.  Introduce background of all writings – a quick synopsis of what each is about

V.  Thesis

 

I.  Use a short story (2-3 sentences) to exemplify the notion of the discussion tract theme you are looking at

II. Explain this story into the topic of your writings

III.  Introduce background of all writings – a quick synopsis of what each is about

IV.  Thesis

 

I.  Use a surprising or startling statement to start the paragraph

II.  Explain how that startling idea relates to the general topic of your paper or your discussion tract theme

III. Explain how that in turn relates to the topic of the writings

IV.  Introduce background of all writings – a quick synopsis of what each is about

V.  Thesis

 

I.  Define what your discussion tract theme word is

II. Explain how that in turn relates to the topic of the writings

III.  Introduce background of all writings – a quick synopsis of what each is about

IV.  Thesis

 

 

Body Paragraphs (as many as needed):  Set up your body paragraphs with topic sentences, use your own ideas, and then use the stories/writings to provide examples of your ideas, and then end the paragraphs with conclusion sentences.  Below is a good outline to follow in structuring your body paragraphs:

-Topic sentence with a relational transition (how it relates to other paragraphs), a mention of the paper argument, and topic

-Your own words to set up the first subtopic of discussion

-Use of the primary source to illustrate an example

-Your own words to explain how that example works in to your paper idea

-Use of secondary source to help support YOUR idea

-Your own words to solidify why the criticism helps explain your paper idea

-Your own words to continue the first subtopic or create a second subtopic discussion

-Use of the primary source to illustrate an example

-Your own words to explain how that example works in to your paper idea

-Use of secondary source to help support YOUR idea

-Your own words to solidify why the criticism helps explain your paper idea

-Conclusion sentence summing up the main idea of this paragraph – NOT moving on to the next paragraph idea

**Note how primary source is used first to give example and secondary source is used after to support.  Also note that your own words of discussion are important here too.  It is great to have source support, but it is better to be able to use your own words to discuss your idea.**

 

Conclusion:  Follow the directions to create your conclusion below

  1. Restate the main idea of the paper (do not directly copy the thesis and paste it here again)
  2. Then, use one sentence to summarize each body paragraph idea; put these sentences in the order that the paragraphs fall in the paper
  3. Come up with an ending sentence that predicts, encourages an idea, or finalizes the main idea of the paper (this is not a summary of the thesis – this is a clincher that leaves your reader content with the information he has received, but thinking about implications of the overall idea

 

Works Cited Page:  Using 8th Edition MLA format, create a works cited page that all the primary and secondary sources USED in the paper.

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