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ENGL 1102 Worozbyt: Research Essay: Assignment

Persuasive Research Essay Assignment

It never hurts to have the assignment written in more than one place, right?

Research Essay Topics 1102

The Task:

Compose in MLA format a research essay of at least 1000 words, using a minimum of four secondary sources. (The OED is a primary, not a secondary, source, but you are encouraged to use it.) Source material must be drawn from books and articles located in Galileo databases or the GSU library. Use secondary critical resources to support and complexify your arguments and points. The task is textual analysis, that and that alone. The supplemental lectures I have been posting are pretty good examples of what I am looking for. This is a research project, but I am most interested in seeing you display your own skill at critical thinking and analysis. Sources not found in Galileo or the GSU library will not count toward the research requirement, and you are discouraged from using them. That said, Wikipedia entries often have links at the bottom to legitimate, academic sources. Feel free to use Wikipedia as a launching point for research, even though Wikipedia entries themselves cannot be used, as they are not vetted. Do not summarize plots or provide biographies of the author. This essay is not to be about the author; it is to be about the text.


The Caveats:

You are obliged to familiarize yourself with proper MLA formatting and citation. This information is found in my Course Content, online at OWL, on Youtube, or simply by Googling “MLA citation.” By now I expect professionally clean and error-free copy, with no typos or mechanical errors. Papers not following these guidelines will be penalized accordingly. By now you have had a full semester of training in proper citation and format. Failure to format the body of your essay in MLA results a penalty up to twenty points, depending on severity. Failure to provide sufficient, relevant source material results in a fifteen-point penalty per missing source. Failure to properly acknowledge the use of secondary material constitutes plagiarism, whether intentional or not, and will result in no credit given, since I cannot distinguish between what writing is yours and what is not.. Make sure you quote and cite, both internally and in your works cited page.


Tennesse Williams, The Glass Menagerie:

1. Discuss the play’s presentation (and subversion) of traditional family and gender roles. How does the assumption and subsequent disruption of those roles define and control Laura’s destiny? How does having a brother for a father and a sister for a mother determine the outcome of Laura’s seduction by Jim?

2. Why does Williams’ reject conventional “realistic” stage drama? Analyze the stage directions and locate at least two echoes within the range of Tom’s dialogue and action. Are the lyrical and poetical qualities of the stage directions in (literary)/dramatic conflict with Tom’s desire to create a unified self, a “character” who characters, through writing poetry? Explain.

3. Consider the use of names and the function of naming in the play. How do names advance and complicate the major arguments and themes in The Glass Menagerie. Remember that a title is a “name” as well, and that to be a caller, gentleman or otherwise, is to be a namer. Needless to say, you should name the major arguments and themes.

4. Explore Williams’ concept of the stage as defined by the text of the play. How does our author manipulate the space and time of the stage? The first questions to wrestle with are: What is a stage? Where is the stage? When is the stage? Then: how does the playwright accomplish his redefinition of the conventional boundaries? Be specific, analyzing selected text passages.

5. Analyze the similarities and differences in the text of Williams’ play and the film of it you watched. This should not be simply a compare/contrast essay, but a thorough investigation of the way the two different media (reading and watching) are anticipated and dealt with by the play itself. The Production Notes and the corresponding echoes in the play would be a good place to start.


Alice Walker, Everyday Use:

1. “Everyday Use” presents us with the clash between personal and cultural history. Walker manages in this short work to interweave them and to produce a dialectic (a “conversation,” if you will) between the seemingly competing histories. Track this interweaving and explain how the story resolves the apparent contradictions between the two.

2. Consider Dee and Maggie as expressions of two sides to the mother’s character. Investigate and discuss how Walker creates these characters and how she makes them come so vibrantly alive in this story. Do not neglect in your analysis to discuss the significance of the mother’s dream.

3. Landscape and objects play a big role in this story. Discuss the idea of “inside” and “outside” in the story, paying careful and close attention to the way objects are depicted and used in the story to generate and facilitate the story’s major themes and ideas


Final Items:

Be generous with quotations, and never paraphrase the text or your secondary source material. Also, make absolutely sure you reproduce the text exactly as it appears in the original. When you change the words you change the meaning; when you change the meaning your argument fails. Likewise, it is always better to overquote than underquote. Analysis based on a brief, out of context phrase is much weaker than analysis of an entire paragraph or sentence.

Whether you choose Williams’ or Walker’s text to research, make sure you do the research before you start to write. Reading articles by vetted, published critics will help you deepen and organize your thoughts. Writing an essay and then going hunting for quotes that suit your wants will always lead to a poor research essay