American Literature

Paper , Order, or Assignment Requirements

This research paper assignment supports the following objectives:
� Write critical papers that make arguments salient to the students’ reading of the texts in question.
� Demonstrate critical thinking and reading skills when reading and responding to texts.
Assignment Overview
� This assignment requires that students submit a research paper following MLA documentation standards.
Activity Details
Perform the following tasks:
� Step 1: Write a research following MLA documentation standards.
You must cite all sources referred to, no matter how much you�ve paraphrased
the idea and regardless of how oblique your reference is. If you are quoting something
not specifically referred to in your textbook, consult the MLA Guide available through
the library or me.
You must use at least 3 sources. None may come through the internet unless
approved by me (although databases like Expanded Academic Index, Magill, MLA index may be
used as much as you want); do not use excerpted collections of criticism as
�Dictionary of Literary Biography� or �Encyclopedia of Criticism.� The primary
text (the work you are writing about) does NOT count as a source.
This research paper is NOT to be a biographical study. This is to be a work of
critical analysis. It should be thesis-driven, which means that you will posit an
argumentative thesis that will enlighten the reader as to the possible meanings
of the text, and that your research will therefore help prove your points regarding
the text. Thus, all research must concentrate on the primary text, not the author�s
life. Use quotes and examples from the text to help prove your point, but avoid
extensive paraphrasing of the text. Remember that this is a literature class, not a
sociology or history class; therefore, your research should draw from books and
articles about the literacy works we�ve read, and not from psychology texts, how-to
or self-help books, or so on. A typical source might be an article on Twain published
in American Literature, located by the student through using the MLA Bibliographical Index.

Demonstrate throughout the paper why your point is relevant and how it helps us reach a greater
understanding of the work in question. AVOID OVER-SUMMARIZING. Assume your audience is
familiar with the primary text. The paper must be on a work covered in this class.

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