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English 1102: Frank Minor: Assignment


English 1102

Summer 2011

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 one of your favorite songwriters (please note that not all musical performers are songwriters)

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

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s use of magical realism

The influence of Ireland on one of the following writers: James Joyce, Frank O’Connor, Lady Gregory, or Oscar Wilde

F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Jazz Age

Jhumpa Lahiri (or Gish Jen) and the immigrant experience

Sherman Alexie and the Native American experience

James Baldwin and the African-American experience (“Sonny’s Blues” is in our textbook)

The plays of August Wilson and the African-American experience

Symbolism in the plays of August Wilson

Spirituality in the plays of August Wilson

 *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 800—1500 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 three-to-five 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 Harbrace Chapter 39 in the 16th edition; Chapter 40 in the 17th edition), and 6.) thoughtful selection and use of research materials. The paper consists of:


  • Title page with the following information:  title of paper, your name, instructor's name, name of the class, the date. (See Harbrace 40.) It should resemble the one on p. 619 in the 17th edition 
  •  Text of paper--typed, double-spaced, numbered.  Your paper must at least three full-length pages (approximately 800 words). 
  •  Works Cited (and optional Works Consulted) page on a separate typed page—three or more valid secondary sources are required.  You may use books, magazine articles, newspaper articles.  A paper with fewer than three secondary sources will not be accepted.  Citation and bibliography form must follow exactly the form outlined in Chapter 40 in the 17th edition of Harbrace and closely resemble p. 633 in the 17th edition.  
  •  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 pape 
  •  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 three 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 Sundance Reader (also from ENGL 1101), the Perdue Online Writing Lab website (currently linked to our library’s 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).



Thesis statement is due July 19

Outline and revised thesis statement (if needed) are due July 21

Partial bibliography, aka the tentative bibliography, with at least

        three secondary sources in MLA format, is due July 25

Final draft plus packet of secondary sources is due July 28


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

Subject Guide

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