This is the "Researched Literary Analysis Essay" page of the "ENGL 2112: World Literature II, 1750-Present" guide.
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ENGL 2112: World Literature II, 1750-Present   Tags: dowd, english, world lit  

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Researched Literary Analysis Essay Print Page
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Basic Information

Length: 6 pages

Format: MLA

Submission: GV Dropbox

Source Citation: In-text citations and W.C.; Primary AND Secondary Sources

Deadline: Essay due by MIDNIGHT THURSDAY, December 5

 

Your Essay Must Include:

  • A clear thesis within the first page and a half
  • An answer to the question: "So What?"
  • 2 or more primary texts from Part II of this class (a Part I text may also be included with permission)
  • Minimum of 1 secondary source (if you also use a historical source, you must also include a scholarly, critical source - making your minimum 2)
  • Close-reading, textual reference and analysis that examines the text carefully and supports your claims
  • In-text citations according to MLA style guidelines
  • Works Cited page in which all primary & secondary sources cited within your paper appear in MLA format (the anthology must also be cited according to handbook's guidelines for works within an anthology)
  • MLA formatting, with the following exceptions: no title page, no double spacing for name, date, etc., no double spacing for block quotes (body text should be double spaced).
 

Texts to Include

Eligible Primary Texts: Only those texts from Part II of the semester are eligible for the Annotated Bibliography.  So, be sure to read the assignment description carefully.  I also suggest you not limit yourself to what we have read thus far from Part II as you explore themes.  Feel free to ask about texts you see later on the syllabus, or ask about other interesting thematic pairings that may include those works.

Types of Sources You May Include: Critical Scholarly Articles on the work(s) you wish to discuss; Critical Scholarly Books or chapters therein; Scholarly Articles on contextual/historical issues potentially relating to your discussion; Articles or books on a concept that could inform your discussion; Historical texts contemporary, and relevant, to your primary text; ALL SECONDARY SOURCES SHOULD BE PEER-REVIEWED AND RECENT - that is, written by an authority within the last 10 years (with the obvious exception of a historical, contemporary text).

Types of Sources You May NOT Include: Essays by other undergraduates, or even graduate students, are not credible sources.  We want PUBLISHED works (just because it's on the Internet, doesn't mean it's credible).  Likewise, NO reviews of works, which summarizes and evaluates a book or article.

 

Assignment Description

ONLY PART II texts may be discussed in your essay--UNLESS approved by me.  For example, you might make comparisons between some Part I text and a Part II text, or use a Part I text as historical context, or to contrast with the Part II text.

For this paper, my intention is to build upon the kind of close reading, comparative analysis, and literary argument we've done in class and in the previous two papers.  For this essay, we will add another layer: researched ideas and contextual information, this time with a scholarly attempt to situate your reading within an on-going critical discussion about the text(s).

What has changed is that you must now further educate your reading with research into concepts, context, and critical scholarship.  The danger here is that your OWN interpretation may be echoed by other, published scholars.  This adds a certain pressure to "say something new" or to combat what has been said previously.  Therefore, it is important that you have established a confident reading before reading other critical scholarship on the work(s).  Remember that an analysis paper always attempts to address a "So What?" through its critique and argument.  In other words, you are writing to explore/reveal some significance within/between the text(s) that others have failed to address in the way that you see it.

Begin thinking about this paper by thinking about class discussion - which novel(s), poem(s), play, etc. did you enjoy discussing most?  What aspects of that discussion most engage you, i.e. what approaches to the novel(s) made the most impact on you?  And finally, what are your thoughts about those issues?

 

Research

This thinking should steer you toward an Annotated Bibliography that explores the available information and critical opinion in that general area, and hopefully helps to hone and fashion your ideas into your own argument about the text(s).  Your argument must address one or more of the works we have read in class, but you may choose to incorporate a historical text we did not read if it is important in establishing your claims (no outside primary texts are permitted).

As we've learned, scholars must have some idea about the context of the text they wish to talk about if they want to make an argument about that text's ideology/meaning/etc.  So, you may need to do some research on popular opinions of the day, reception of the text at the time, cultural events that might have influenced these things, etc.

For any kind of approach, however, you will also want to know something of what has been said already - and some critics might have already done some socio-historical work for you.  This way, as a writer, you can enter a conversation about the novel, knowing what that conversation is.

 

Your Essay Argument

I am far more interested, however, in what you have to say than what others have said.  At this stage, writers easily find themsleves overwhelmed by the critical conversation, and lack the confidence to assert their own views.  You will probably end up with one or two critical sources that: support your argument by contributing some conclusive statement that forwards your point, give you a reason to write in order to correct/argue with their ideas, give you a solid foundation/example of how to approach your text because they describe a concept that you think is at work in the text.  You may also have a historical/cultural/theoretical source(s) that is either contemporary work on the period in question, work from that period that you can also analyze and use as support, or a critical concept/approach that you wish to guide your reading of the text (like Schreiner's Women and Labor, for ex.).

What is a valid argument about a text that can be developed in 6 pages?  A literary argument essentially tries to point out a possible truth about a text(s), a truth that will imply particular ways of perceiving what happens in the text, and which is in turn supported by those events, descriptions, characters, etc.  As you try to think of an issue to talk about, remember your 3T&Ts, discussion responses, etc. - many of these might be developed into larger questions, supported by close reading, etc.

Your approach can take any of a variety of forms.  For example, some possible starting points:

  • An expansion of your 3T&T thesis or thread(s) in which you extend the theme and perhaps compare it with another text from Part II, branching into larger implications and/or extending your research into the historical context, and in some other way attempt to address a larger "so what?" question about the text(s).
  • A Pursuit of a theme in one or more text(s).  Your theme should rise out of our class, rather than out of a Google search.
  • An assessment of what seems successful, valuable, or influential about the story in comparison to another, or what seems flawed, weak, or problematic (this must be supported by some historical context).
  • A theme that also implies some socio-historical context: agency, masculinity/femininity, gender roles, racism, colonialism, civilization, industrialization, disillusionment, realism, etc. (you might locate the intertextuality between one or more of the works we've read - how they might be speaking to each other, and/or how knowledge of one changes the meaning of another).
  • A comparitive analysis of style, diction, rhetorical devices, and other elements of fiction (for example, reader/audience relationship, etc.) across two texts that suggests the significance of these themes to readers.
  • A close analysis and comparison of style and affect (certainly effective with the satirical or culturally critical works) that suggests the significance of these differences/similarities to readers.
  • A close analytical comparison of how attitudes on a theme have changed over time, using two or more texts.
  • A cultural study that furthers an ideological argument about what the text says about social class, money, poverty, social/class mobility, society, humanity, fiction and art, etc.
  • An interpretation that takes into account some specific events of the historical, cultural, or intellectual context of the novel (major events, like war, an industrial development, a political problem, etc.).

Obviously, I have made these topics vague.  Even so, the possibilities are more numerous than listed here - in fact, you will probably find yourself combining them in some ways.

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