Academic Research Essay
The final research paper assignment combines all of the skills you have been working on so far this semester: literary analysis, argument construction, effective organization, source evaluation, and incorporation, explanation, and citation of evidence.
In this paper you will demonstrate how conducting cultural, historical, and literary-critical research enhances your understanding of a story or poem assigned in class.
1) You must include at least five credible outside sources. The literary text—the short story or poem—does not count toward these five.
2) You will be relying more heavily on the academic databases, accessible via the Harper Library, as opposed to Google searches alone.
3) You must incorporate at least one piece of literary criticism.
4) As a result of your more in-depth research, your paper will be 9-10 pages.
Focus on a close reading and interpretation, and you will still need to make an argument about the deeper meaning or significance of the literature you’re examining. The research will act as supplementary material and/or background information.
Sample Research Questions
What have other literary critics observed about Edgar Allan Poe’s style? Do you see evidence of this in “The Cask of Amontillado?”
Does “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” reflect any realities of the Civil War, or Ambrose Bierce’s own experiences serving in that war?
What is the critical assessment of the role of music or Harlem in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”? Do you agree/disagree with any of these perspectives, or do they help you expand on your own interpretation of the story?
How does Nikki Giovanni’s poetry exhibit the mission of the Black Arts movement?
What does Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Yellow Woman” reveal about Laguna Pueblo culture and belief?
Why is Sandra Cisneros’ “Loose Woman” called a feminist poem? How does her feminist work draw from her Chicana culture and identity?
Does Sherman Alexie’s “Every Little Hurricane” reveal realities of indigenous experience in America, specifically modern life on reservations?