Topic and Thesis

Read the attached instructions and then complete the one form that is attached to base paper on on.

Cre

a

ting a

Topic Proposal for R

esearch

1

.

Read

the

“Approaches to Literary Research

found in

the

Research Folder

.

2

.

Review

the “Topic Ideas for R

esearch

found in
the
Research Folder
.

Please

Note

:

This is

a researched

LITERARY

analysis

essay. While

yo

u might take a historical approach

(

for example) when analyzing

some aspect

of

the work you’ve chosen, you are NOT writing a history

paper. While you might take a psychological approach, you are NOT

writing a psychology paper. While you might discuss

an

is

sue related

to religion, you are NOT writing a theological treatise. Please do NOT

write a biography of an author.

Your purpose is to

support the overall

argument that you’ve made in

your

thesis, through a close analysis

of
a

focused aspect of the literar

y work

, so the bulk of the essay should

be spent analyzing the work

not

presenting details about the

author’s life.

3

.

Write

a one

paragraph

expla

nation

. (

Note
:
This is
not
an

introductory paragraph fo

r the paper.

) This should be an

expla

nation of y

our

focused topic

AN

D

what you hope to

prove

to your reader through your analysis.

SAMPLE

explanation

:

(D

o not copy

or paraphrase

this sample

.)

The Puritans in

The Scarlet

Letter

use harsh public punishments as a

means to keep community members under c

ontrol. Hester’s “sin” is a

threat to them because it represents a person going outside their

communally agreed

upon rules. Thinking or acting like an individual is

severely frowned upon. Interestingly, their efforts backfire with

Hester. Instead of it

s intended effect of crushing her spirit, the

isolation and the “A” she wears give her the independence to think for

herself and ultimately gain control of her life.

4

.

Create

a

working thesis

. Really t

hink about what you wrote

in the explanation and pu

ll it together by creating a working

thesis. You will likely continue to revise and edit this thesis.

Remember

: A THESIS should include the

focused topic

plus

your

assertion about the significance of that topic

. It should be

argumentative

in nature, sin

ce it is an opinion that you will

prove through a close analysis of the details of the text.

SAMPLE
working thesis
:
(
D
o not copy
or paraphrase
this sample
.)

Although shame and isolation are used

by the Puritans in

The Scarlet

Letter

to control communit

y members and reinforce Puritan dogma,

these punishments, ironically, serve to drive Hester’s transformation

into a free

thinking feminist.

·

SOURCES: You must use a minimum of THREE secondary sources. You will cite the work you are analyzing, of course, but it is a primary source. Therefore, you will have a minimum of FOUR sources listed on your Works Cited page. At least ONE of your secondary sources must be an article from a scholarly journal accessed via an LSCS library database. You must not use Cliffs Notes or Bloom’s Notes or the like, basic dictionaries or encyclopedias, or any plot summaries. You should select reputable sources of literary criticism that help you prove your thesis. If, in addition to these minimum source requirements, you would like to briefly cite a source such as The Bible or a specialized dictionary – that is fine. If in doubt about the quality of a source, ask me or a reference librarian. An essay that does not meet the minimum source requirements will earn an automatic F.

· LENGTH: The essay must be 3-4 textual pages (not including the Works Cited page). The essay must follow MLA manuscript form guidelines stated in the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook. The text of the essay must be 3 full textual pages, meaning it will reach the bottom, one-inch margin on the third page of a correctly formatted Word document. An essay that does not meet the minimum length requirements will earn an automatic F. Please do not exceed 4 textual pages. Focus your thesis to conform to the length requirements.

· MLA DOCUMENTATION: This research project should follow all parenthetical documentation / Works Cited guidelines found in the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. You must use in-text parenthetical citations according to MLA form, and they must clearly match up to entires on the Works Cited page, which will be the last page of your paper. Remember, the WC page is in addition to the minimum length requirement of 3 full textual pages. You are being graded on your ability to correctly document your primary and secondary sources. (See Learning Outcome # 7 on your syllabus.)

· THESIS: You should state your carefully crafted thesis at the end of your brief introductory paragraph. A thesis is an assertion that you are making – something that must be proven in the body paragraphs through a close analysis of the literary work. Since this is a short paper, your thesis must be very specific. Students tend to make their thesis statements too general, usually out of the fear that if they are too specific they will run out of things to say. However, students with broad thesis statements fail to fully develop and support the assertion made and, instead, end up writing an essay that touches on ideas without fully analyzing and supporting claims made.

· SUPPORT: You’ll integrate brief quotations and specific details from your primary source. When using secondary sources, you should primarily paraphrase the ideas of the critics. Quote sparingly from your secondary sources. Do not use any long quotations. Regardless of whether you are quoting or paraphrasing from your sources, you must always provided documentation (parenthetical citations matching up to entries on the Works Cited page) following MLA guidelines. Don’t forget that your sources serve to support your analysis. Your body paragraphs should be focused (topic sentences), and they should be developed with an appropriate mix of details from the primary source, your analysis of those details, and secondary support from literary critics.

· ESSAY STRUCTURE and WRITING SKILLS: You are being graded on your ability to write a logical, well-organized, and well-supported analysis of a literary work (see Learning Outcome # 6 on your syllabus). Poor essay organization and poor grammar and syntax will sabotage your hard work, and it may result in a failing grade. The essay must be well-organized and carefully edited. This is a formal essay.

· PLAGIARISM: The penalty for plagiarism is an automatic F in the course. The college subscribes to an anti-plagiarism site called Turnitin.com to which all papers will be submitted. Please read the information about avoiding plagiarism very carefully and ask questions when confused.

· TOPIC IDEAS: One of the most challenging questions in the research process is, “What can I write about?” The answers are as varying as the people who write. People respond so differently to works of literature that it is hard to predict what they – and you – might choose to write about. Of course, this is a very short research paper, so you won’t be able to analyze everything significant in the work. Instead, you’ll limit yourself to some part of it. But which work? Which part? Below, I’ve listed some BROAD topic ideas. You might want to choose a couple of these and do some brainstorming to focus the topic and get at the assertion that you’ll make about its significance. Please feel free to send me your thesis by email prior to starting your research. I’ll give you some feedback and suggestions and let you know whether you are on the right track.

·

·
Please Note
: This is a researched LITERARY ANALYSIS essay. While you might take a historical approach (for example) when analyzing some aspect of the work you’ve chosen, you are NOT writing a history paper. While you might take a psychological approach, you are NOT writing a psychology paper. While you might discuss an issue related to religion, you are NOT writing a theological treatise. Again, it is a literary analysis paper, so please keep your focus on analyzing the work itself.

APPROACH #2:

Another approach would be to expand on an idea addressed briefly in one of your discussion posts. Remember, you’ll need to create a focused thesis statement. The prompts below can be used to create an assertion that you could then prove in your body paragraphs through a close analysis of the primary source (the work we studied) and through support from your secondary sources (literary criticism).

Edgar Allan Poe – “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Analyze the use of parallels or mirror images in this story. How does this kind of imagery support a thematic idea running throughout the story?

The Three-Part Topic Proposal for Research

Save this file to your computer; type in your responses for each of the three areas below, and then upload your work by the deadline using the dropbox in Module 11.


Step 1:
Explanation
Write a one-paragraph explanation. (This is not an introductory paragraph for the paper.) This should be an explanation of your focused topic and what you hope to prove to your reader through your analysis.


Step 2:
Working Thesis

Really think about what you wrote in the explanation and pull it together by creating a working thesis. You will likely continue to revise and edit this thesis. Remember: A THESIS should include the
focused topic
plus your
assertion about the significance of that topic
. It should be
argumentative
in nature, since it is an opinion that you will prove through a close analysis of the details of the text.


Step 3: Tentative Outline

Now create a tentative outline for your working thesis. In other words, how will you break up your body paragraphs to prove or support the thesis?

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