5 full pages. Typed, double-spaced, Arial or Times New Roman font. 1-inch margins on all sides. Download essay template here
Choose any American literary work(s) in our class ebook.
Discuss how the work you have chosen addresses an issue that has significantly affected American culture and literature. Possible issues include (but are certainly not limited to) class, race relations, rights of women, gender roles, war, religion, diversity, violence, fear, technology, and politics.
Example Topics (not from this class):
How Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved addresses issues of race and violence to highlight the horrors of slavery
How Stephen King’s novel Carrie highlights the damaging effects of bullying
How Edgar Allan Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death” connects to the current COVID-19 pandemic
Notice how the sample topics above focus on one literary work and zoom in on a specific issue in order to demonstrate how the literature connects in some way?
Structure and Content Requirements:
Be sure to include an introductory paragraph that includes the thesis statement as the last sentence.
The thesis statement should be detailed enough so that the reader will know exactly what to expect from your essay. This statement should not be vague and should not be an announcement (No: I am going to discuss…). The thesis should include a central claim you are making about the literature and your chosen issue. It should be original and arguable, meaning that it shouldn’t simply state a universally agreed-upon fact. It should also be only one sentence. More thesis tips and examples provided here.
To achieve the length requirement, you should plan to have at least 3 body paragraphs, but you may have more if you need them. Each body paragraph should be devoted to only one major claim that supports your thesis statement. Using one of the example topics above, a sample body paragraph might address how Toni Morrison’s use of imagery in her novel Beloved illustrates the racial violence associated with slavery. Notice how I stick to the thesis statement but only discuss one particular claim? Do that with each body paragraph.
Review the handouts at the top of this Module to see sample structures/outlines for this essay.
This should be your own analysis, not a summary of the literature or of professional critics. DO NOT copy from any source or another paper. This essay will be submitted to Turnitin, and if a student plagiarizes, the sources will be identified by Turnitin.
Formatting and Source Requirements:
MLA formatting is required. Follow ALL guidelines for MLA standard format as stated on the Purdue OWL website link above.
Include your name, instructor name, class name and date in the upper left corner on the first page of the essay. Do not include this header on your Works Cited page. See the essay template
for an example.
Include proper page numbers in the upper right corner of EVERY page. See the essay template
for an example.
In addition to the literary work, you may cite up to three additional scholarly sources to help support your claims in the essay. Scholarly sources include peer-reviewed journals, and a custom list of ICC library sources has been provided for you. Visit the ICC library guide here
(Links to an external site.)
to begin your research. Need help navigating the ICC library guide for this class? Watch this video!
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You may not find a source that deals with your topic exactly, but you shouldn’t have a hard time finding sources that somehow connect to your topic and/or literary work.
Don’t let the research drive your paper. Your claims must be centerstage. Only use the secondary research to strengthen your claims or provide additional commentary/evidence. I repeat, do NOT let the secondary research control your paper. You are in the driver’s seat.
Instead of directly quoting a research article, see if you can summarize the claim from the research you are wanting to incorporate into your paper. This will ensure that the researcher’s voice/tone does not distract from your own. As always, you must cite anything you bring in from outside–even if it is summarized/paraphrased.
A Works Cited page is required and must include all sources used in the essay (primary and secondary sources).
These internet sources will not be accepted as valid sources: Wikipedia, SparkNotes, StudyMode, Schmoop, CliffsNotes, LitCharts, GradeSaver, etc.
You must remain objective and write in third person (No direct references to yourself – I, you, we, my, me, etc.). While this essay must be driven by your own claims about the literature, it should not be framed as if it is an editorial or opinion piece in a newspaper or magazine.
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