Your “final” for ENGL 319 is a 6 to 8 page (double-spaced) thesis-driven research paper thematically linking two of the authors discussed in the course.
What is a thesis-driven research paper? A formal thesis-driven research paper entails significant research and the use of sources located outside the course materials. In other words, you’ll be researching your topic using Maryville’s library. Unlike a personal essay, which doesn’t require outside research because it details your feelings and opinions on a topic, a thesis-driven research paper requires you to search out the solution to an idea, concept, or problem that you have proposed in the paper’s thesis statement and to present what you have learned through research in a well-written, coherent paper.
Below is a step-by-step series of instructions for successfully completing this assignment, followed by the grading rubric I will be using to assess your performance. Please pay close attention to the rubric before submitting your paper to ensure that you meet all of the expectations for the grade level you hope to achieve.
Step 1: Formulate a thesis statement that tells the reader which two authors you’ll be exploring, which texts you’ll be focusing on, what you’ll be exploring about these two authors, and why. A solid thesis ends with a strong “so what factor”—a phrase or two explaining why the reader should view these two texts in this way. Remember, a strong thesis should be a statement that a reasonable person could disagree with—something you have to prove using evidence from the texts and your outside research.
Sample Thesis: Alcee Arobin and Nick, two minor male characters in The Awakening by Kate Chopin and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, serve as foils to the novels’ female protagonists, allowing both Edna Pontellier and Offred to rebel against the limitations of their respective patriarchal societies through illicit sexual affairs. The sexual objectification of male characters in these classic feminist novels both imitates and subverts the trope of female objectification in works written by male authors.
Step 2: Locate at least three secondary sources. These could be articles from scholarly journals that directly discuss the texts you’re working with, biographies of the authors, or scholarly articles from other disciplines that relate to your thesis.
Sample Research Thread: For example, for the thesis I’ve created above, I’d begin by looking for scholarly articles on sexual objectification of men in literature written by women; sexual objectification of women in literature written by men; articles about Nick or Alcee Arobin’s characterization; articles about sexuality in The Awakening and/or The Handmaid’s Tale…the list goes on. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor or the wonderful research librarians for help formulating keywords to make your database searches more productive.
Step 3: Write a first draft of your paper, being sure to include a clear introduction to your thesis statement, organized body paragraphs, a conclusion, and a Works Cited. Use MLA format. Remember to check that everything you add to your paper supports/proves the argument in your thesis, including relevant cited quotations from the texts and your secondary sources. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your discussion of any quotation you include is at least twice as long as the quotation itself. Your thesis may change slightly as you draft your paper and find (or lack) evidence for your claims—this is normal and to be expected! Revise accordingly.
Step 4: Edit and revise your paper with the rubric below in mind, always being sure to cite your sources.
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