ENGL 1102/Research Essay

From Gerald R. Lucas

For this essay, you will find a minimum of two scholarly essays to support a three-page essay that takes a critical approach to one of the texts we have read for class. This essay does not have to have an original approach, but it should contain original analysis supported by textual evidence. Think of this as an essay that synthesizes several critical analyses under one critical umbrella (e.g. feminist, cultural, ethical, etc.).


Choose Your Primary Text

For your main essay topic, choose any short story, poem, or song we have read as a class up until this point in the semester. This is called the primary text.

Choose a Critical Approach

Select a critical approach we have discussed in-class to take for your essay. These could range from a feminist approach to an ethical approach—any that we have studied this semester. You should select a single approach, though others might be touched on in your research and your essay. (If a specific approach does not present itself, you might begin by doing some research first.) For example, you might take a feminist approach of Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited” that argues Charlie’s mistreatment of women—Helen, Marion, and Lorraine—makes him unfit to resume his fatherhood duties.

Choose Your Secondary Texts

Find at least two scholarly articles from books or journals that take a similar critical approach. Read the articles, your secondary texts, and take notes. Try to identify the critics’ main arguments about the primary text. Are there any areas of overlap between the critics? Are there any areas in which they disagree? How do they help to develop your own understanding of the text?

Any secondary sources you wish to use that are not from scholarly journals (or found via Galileo) and/or books (found via Gil) must be approved by me. Reference works may be consulted, bur they should never be cited. You might begin your search with your intended critical approach as a keyword.

Write Your Essay

You essay should be a minimum of five paragraphs, though you will have more certainly. You should begin with an introductory paragraph that includes an explicit thesis statement and end with a conclusion. Your body paragraphs should develop your thesis statement with evidence from the primary and secondary texts.

Format Your Essay

This essay should be word-processed using MLA format for research papers, double-spaced, etc. It should use parenthetical citations in the body of the essay and have a works cited section at the end. Please review “Writing in the Liberal Arts” and implement these conventions when writing about literature. Errors in format will cost you points.

Get Help

You must take a form of this essay to the Writing Center at least once before the due date. It’s best to have a printed rough draft with you during your consultation. You might also print this assignment page to show the tutor, so s/he knows exactly what you should be doing in your essay. Upon completion, the Writing Center will notify me of your session.

We will also workshop these in class before the due date. See your syllabus.