research paper

focus on the short novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, published in 1959 and write an interpretive paper which is supported by research taken from two to three critical works which also focus on the work you are interpreting. Note that the great bulk of this paper should be your own interpretation of various scenes, etc., with the secondary source quotes used only briefly, to support some (not even all) of your own interpretive points. The most easily useable secondary sources are some scholar’s interpretation of the same work. The online indexes housed in our LRC are good places to find sources like this.

you must write a thesis-driven essay. The MOST IMPORTANT focus for your thesis is to interpret how the work fits the course motif, which is how we treat others who differ from ourselves. However, I am open to other types of analysis, such as analyzing how a work fits within its culture, or analyzing the growth or change of the main character in terms of personality. Nor are these the only possible options.

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In any of the three options, you cannot merely talk about the work; you must quote directly from it extensively, in order to nail down your various points. And in any of the options, you will also need to also quote directly from at least twosecondary sources and clearly connect each quote to your own interpretation in one way or another. (I will discuss ways to do this.) You will need to provide an MLA-style parenthetical citation for each quotation, from your primary source (the work or works you are interpreting) as well as from your secondary sources, and you will lastly need to provide an MLA-style Works Cited page listing complete bibliographical data for all sources, including the primary source.

Organization of the essay: I want you to use a basic three-part format: introductory paragraph, a main body consisting of three or four paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. I will expect an introductory paragraph which names the work(s) and the author(s), states your thesis, and lists (as a preview of the main body) the several different subtopics you will discuss in the various main body paragraphs. The main body of the paper should be organized into paragraphs which match this preview. In other words, you cannot merely ramble; you must use each body paragraph to discuss a different subtopic which supports your thesis. These could be different characters, different scenes, different cultural aspects, and so forth.

Research considerations:

1. Because this is a research paper, you must know the difference between primary sources and secondary sources. The primary source as the term is used here is the work you are interpreting yourself. Secondary sources are works which have something to do with your primary source, but are not just another version of the primary source.

2. In this paper, then, you will have one primary source, and no matter which option you choose, you must also haveat least two secondary sources but not more than three.

3. All encyclopedias, Masterplots, Cliff Notes, Spark Notes, E-Notes and such are off-limits. They are not suitable sources for a college research project. This includes online encyclopedias such as Encarta, Wikepedia, and other literary encyclopedias. These things can be useful study aids, but are not considered acceptable college-level research sources. Note, however, that if you are using the second option for this paper, then your secondary sources will not be scholarly works at all, probably, but will instead probably be newspaper articles, news magazine articles, and so forth. And note that those types of sources may also be used in the third option, instead of more traditional literary, interpretive articles.

4. Lastly, as already noted, you will need to quote directly from these various sources, and you will need to cite them using current MLA format (which I offer reminders of). Briefly, this involves placing a parenthetical citation after each quotation; the parenthetical citation should show the author’s name, which may be looked up in the Works Cited list at the end of your paper. The Works Cited entries follow a fairly strict format and should show enough information to allow a reader to actually lay hands on your source.

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