short essay

As we study short fiction and then transition to the study of drama (preceded by an exam on short fiction), it’s time to begin work on your semester’s research paper project.

Here is an opportunity to do some original research into a topic that interests you. The final draft of the essay, due the day of the final exam, runs 5 to 7 pages along with a Works Cited Page, all formatted according to MLA guidelines (if necessary please consult either the Citrus College Library web site of the Purdue University OWL website for a refresher on the MLA formatting).

Instructions: Begin by selecting from our list of readings this semester one poem that you would like to work with.

Then select your critical approach all of which are described near to the end of our text (see the Table of Contents for the pages covering Formalist/New Criticism, Biographical, Psychological, Reader-Response, Historical, Gender, and Cultural). We will discuss these in class.

Submit to me by April 15th a well-written paragraph in which you identify the work you will be covering, your critical approach, and a discussion about WHY you have made this selection (note, this is not an interpretation but rather a discussion of the reasons behind the decisions you have made) – and I will respond.

The next steps have no designated due date (other than the final draft).Work at your own pace. If you would like my feedback on any of the following steps, please send the material to be and I will be glad to respond – but this is not required.

The next step is to devise a thesis statement for your paper. What will you be trying to prove? Usually the best way to approach this is to pose it as a question. What question would you like to answer in your paper? See if you can develop a three-part question. Then…

Develop a sentence outline in which you answer the question using textual support to add to the evidence. Think of the research paper as being composed of three essays (each 3 to 5 paragraphs) plus an introduction and conclusion. Thus, for your outline, try to come up with three answers to the question (thus I, II and III of your outline), and support each answer with your own reasoning and support from the text.

At the same time, proceed to do your research, looking for five to seven (minimum) sources (books, journal articles, reference guides) from which you can pull quotes to add further support to your outline. Whenever you quote from a secondary source, include within parentheses after the quote the last name and the page number of each source. Important: Avoid Wikipedia, Schmoop and other unreliable sources (which will be disallowed once you transfer to the university/state college). Stay focused on reliable, authoritative sources. Hint: Begin by consulting the web site devoted to your author. This is maintained by experts in your area and will offer links to many helpful sources. Also, our campus library has a wide collection of books and journal articles on each of the authors.

From here, I suggest you develop a rough draft (which I’ll be glad to look over if you desire) followed by a final draft of the paper. Be sure to follow MLA formatting guidelines throughout.

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