E 201 – Literary Research Essay
Sunday 5/8 @ 11:59–3 page draft due with MLA works cited list. Students who fail to submit draft will not receive a grade on the final essay. Works cited list does not count as the third page
Final Essay Due: T 5/17 @ 11:59
ALL WORK MUST BE SUBMITTED ON THIS DAY.
This essay may be on any of the texts we have read in the class, provided that you have not already written on them in a previous assignment. You should write about new material that you haven’t written on previously. This essay will be a literary research essay. That means you will engage with what other scholars in the field have to say about your topic.
Specifically, the essay:
- must be 4-6 pages, double-spaced, stapled in a reasonably sized 12 point font. Number your pages. Give your essay a title. You love it. Would you not give it a name?
- must use MLA style documentation, including a works cited list.
- must consult and engage with at least 3 reputable scholarly articles or books; at some points you will need to fully summarize and explain the authors’ claims with which you are dealing. ONE of these essays may come from something I have posted on blackboard. You must directly quote each source in your essay TWO times.
What is a scholarly article or book? It is a study written by an expert (often a Ph.D.) on the subject. General interest publications and blogs found on Google are not scholarly. You will find scholarly articles and books generally through library databases. We also call these secondary sources. The book you are writing about is your primary source and DOES NOT count as one of the three sources. See my research tutorial voice thread on blackboard for how to find scholarly articles and books.
And, I say this every time, on all my assignments: I expect to see a focused argumentative thesis with supporting points based on textual analysis. Use the text as support, meaning, you must build your argument through close reading and explanation of actual passages in the text. Fully develop your analysis. A quotation from the text will not illustrate your thesis on its own. You must teach the reader, through close reading and elaboration upon details in the passages, how it relates to your thesis. It is also better to elaborate in detail upon one example than to bring in too many undeveloped examples.
You may consider one of the following questions, or questions from earlier assignments, on Jesus’ Son, for example. You may combine questions and compare contrast texts (no more than two) if you wish. If you choose to go in an independent direction, please discuss it with me.
1. Pick one of the critical articles I’ve provided in the weekly guide. Your research essay should offer your interpretation of the ending of Sula or any other text we have read. You should begin the essay with a short analysis of a passage from the final pages. Then, explain how the critical article you read adds to your thinking about one of the endings. What exactly, is the text really about? What, for example, is most important about it? Is it a story that “centers dark women,” as one writer has claimed? If so, what does that mean and how does it do this?
You should, as required, incorporate two other research texts into your essay.
2. In “The Necessity of Disability in “Good Country People” and “The Lame Shall Enter First,” Laura L Behling argues that O’ Connor uses disability as a way to picture “humanity’s sin,” it’s moral impairments (80). She contends that the disabled are necessary in O’Connor’s vision to “expose imperfection in humanity” that is not visibly disabled (80). Extending from this article (which you should summarize in your essay), how do you believe disability functions in any of the texts we have read?
3. In “In Search of Self: Frustration and Denial in Toni Morrison’s Sula,” Marie Nigro dwells on Morrison’s description of Sula as an “artist with no art form” (92). How does she explain this characterization of Sula? In what ways does Morrison examine Sula’s development as an “artist” figure. How does Sula’s path from girlhood to woman figure in here?
4. In Toni Morrison’s Sula: A Black Woman’s Epic, how does Karen F. Stein explain the problem of freedom in Sula. How do you explain it? Do you think Sula’s desire to live outside of norms makes her an amoral character?
5. How do male characters in Sula suffer from what Morrison describes as the “wasteful capitalist war had on black people?”
6. In “Fractured Families,” Tony Magistrale writes that O’ Connor’s characters often “rebel against their responsibilities as parents” and that at “the core” of her “nuclear families is a mixture of resentment and perversion” (113). How might this claim apply to any of these texts we have read most recently? In what ways does “family” operate in Sula. How and what do family members do to each other?
7. How does Antigone serve as a “prototype” for any of the characters we’ve studied this semester. You may think her about Antigone’s “perversity,” or at least that’s what I’ve been calling it?
(While these questions focus heavily on Sula, you may write about other texts we’ve read this semester or you may write compare/contrast. I think Antigone makes an incredible figure to compare with Sula).