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English 1102 MW

Spring 2012

Professor Frank Minor

MLA-Style Research Paper

Choose one of the following topics:

Important themes in one of your favorite movies

Themes and/or techniques of a well-known film director (e.g., Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino)

The lyrics of a songwriter that you find interesting (note that “songwriter” and “performer” are two different roles—not all performers write their own songs)

The influence of the American South and its culture on the writings of one of the following writers: William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Kate Chopin, Tennessee Williams, Bobbie Ann Mason, or Zora Neale Hurston

The rise of graphic novels (I can offer suggestions for reading)

Symbolism and themes in the comics

An analysis of fiction by a contemporary author: Sherman Alexie, Gish Jen, Jhumpa Lahiri

The African-American experience in the writings of one of the following:  Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin

Themes in the works of one of the following playwrights: Lady Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Oscar Wilde (at least two different plays would need to be discussed)

*Yes, these are broad topics, but you should not have any trouble finding a subject that interests you. Your challenge is to narrow the topic to a subject and thesis that can be fully covered in a 1400--2000 word paper.

1.      Supply background information on the topic. Most of this should come from outside sources.

2.      State a clear thesis. This should be as specific as possible. Do not try to cover too much here (e.g., an  author’s entire life and works, every revival of A Doll House). Your topic should be fully covered in a five-to-seven page paper.

3.      Offer an in-depth discussion of your thesis, based on your research into your topic. You should summarize previous research and present a new idea. Try to find a balance between previous writing on the topic (the research) and your own analysis.  Remember that plot summary is not the same as analysis. Papers must be written using MLA-style. You will turn in the following: a thesis sentence, a one-page summary or outline, a bibliography, and a final paper, with supporting materials (all of the above plus printed or photocopied secondary sources).

Your paper must demonstrate the following:  1.) thorough knowledge of the topic, 2.) original thinking, 3.) proper grammar, 4.) good organization and development, 5.) proper documentation (see Chapter 33 in Harbrace Essentials), and 6.) thoughtful selection and use of research materials. Here are your guidelines:

·        See pp. 323 in Harbrace Essentials for a list of tips for preparing an MLA-style paper and p. 324 for a sample paper.

·         Number all pages (including the first one) with an Arabic numeral in the upper-right corner, one-half inch from the top. Put your last name before the page number.

·        On the left side of the first page, one inch from the top, type a heading that includes your name, the name of your professor, the course number, and the date of submission.

·        Double-space between the heading and the title of your paper, which should be centered on the page. If your title consists of two or more lines, double-space them and center each.

·        Double-space between your title and the first line of the text.

·        Indent the first paragraph, and every subsequent paragraph, one-half inch.

·        Text of paper should be typed, double-spaced, numbered.  Your paper must be at least five full-length pages (approximately 1400 words minimum).

·        Works Cited (and optional Works Consulted) page on a separate typed page—five or more valid secondary sources are required.  You may use books, magazine articles, newspaper articles.  A paper with fewer than five secondary sources will not be accepted.  Citation and bibliography form must follow exactly the form outlined in Chapter 33 in Harbrace Essentials and closely resemble the one on pp. 335-336.

·        Citations--These should be included within the text when appropriate.

·        To be turned in with your paper:  xeroxed or printed copies of source materials which you have cited in your text, either by quoting directly or paraphrasing. Each copied page should have the original author’s name and page number clearly marked. The copies should be sorted in the order that they are used in the research paper.

·        For literary and movie topics: The story/poem/play/film that you are writing about is the primary source. Everything else that you use (articles, books, essays) is considered a secondary material.  You must have at least five different secondary sources in your paper, and these should come from a variety of formats. (At least two of these should be found through Galileo.)  The secondary sources can be quoted, paraphrased, or summarized, but they must be cited using MLA format. *Sparknotes, Cliff Notes, Wikipedia, and similar sites do not count as sources!

·        See the library's website for information on citing sources from Galileo.  This is fairly simple. Some of the online databases tell how to cite their materials. Other resources: Harbrace,  the Perdue Online Writing Lab website (currently linked to our library’s website), the MLA website, the Tutorial Center, the GHC Library staff, your instructor.

·        I will be glad to read rough drafts (including incomplete ones), but give them to me early.

·        The final paper and the copies of your sources should be placed in a large manila envelope or folder. Do not turn in a loose paper.

·        Evidence of plagiarism will result in a zero for the assignment—no revision or excuses allowed.

·        The final draft must be submitted to

·        Remember to SAVE all of your work in at least two locations (Z-drive, personal computer, CD, DVD, zip drive).


DEADLINES:   Thesis statement is due March 19.

                        Outline and revised thesis statement (if needed) are due March 26.

                        Partial bibliography (at least three sources in MLA format) is due April 2.

                         Final draft plus packet of secondary sources is due April 16.

Note: These preliminary steps will be graded and are included as part of your final total grade.


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