Literary Research Essay

For this essay, you will write a research-based literary analysis paper. This paper will need to be typed
(double-spaced) in MLA format with a works cited page containing all works (primary and secondary
sources) used in the paper. You will submit this in Blackboard, so use Word or save as PDF.
This paper will be an analysis of a literary work (one of the assigned course readings). The work you
are analyzing is your primary source (the story, poem, essay, journal, speech, or sermon itself), but
you will also use support from secondary sources (critical analysis articles written by respected
critics/scholars that have been peer-reviewed by other scholars and published in academic journals) that
you will find by using JSCC’s online library. Secondary sources are sources written about the primary
source. The end goal is to articulate and develop a debatable claim about a literary text.
Assignment Requirements:
 Must be about one of the assigned works we have read this semester. You may use the work you
analyzed for the infographic assignment. (Be sure to spell the author’s name correctly.)
 Must use a total of at least three secondary sources (in addition to the primary source), but you
can use more if you desire.
o At least two of your sources must be literary criticism sources from peer-reviewed
academic journals.
o One of the sources may be a reference work – biographical or other reference type work,
such as the Dictionary of Literary Biography, etc.
o You may also use the background and footnote information provided by the editors of
our textbook and document the anthology (as an additional source).
 Must use MLA formatting and documentation. Read the MLA Notes provided on our course
site.
 Integrate quotations—introduce and explain them. Read “Annoying Ways People Use Sources”
(www.writingspaces.org) for examples. It is recommended that you incorporate at least one
quotation from the primary source and one or two from secondary sources in each body
paragraph. As long as all the sources are used effectively, you should be fine. A body paragraph
with no quotations is rarely acceptable. Try to work brief quotations (such as a phrase) into
sentences of your own. See examples in the article mentioned.
 Your essay should be 4-5 pages total, including the works cited (at least 3 full pages of text, not
longer than 5 pages of text). Work on being concise and eliminating wordiness as your revise
and edit before submitting your essay.
 You MAY NOT use sources from the general internet. There are plenty of reputable scholarly
sources available through the library online. In fact, the librarian has already assembled a guide
with several sources for you to choose from. All sources must come from legitimate
critics/scholars whose articles/essays are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals or books
of criticism. Use the library guide created specifically for this assignment to locate sources.
Contact the librarian via email or chat for assistance. Do not use Wikipedia, Cliff’s Notes, Spark
Notes, Pink Monkey, Shmoop, Masterplots, 123helpme.com, or any other similar sources.
Doing so without citing them is considered plagiarism and will be punished accordingly (see
Academic Honesty Code) and documenting sources that are not credible/scholarly is
unprofessional and your grade will reflect this.
 You must use Jefferson State’s Online Library or another library to find your sources.
 Since this is a literature course and not a composition course, you will be expected to
revise, edit, and proofread on your own before submitting your essay. You may utilize the

college’s online tutoring services for assistance.
Topic Requirements*:
The general topic will be focused on one of the literary works assigned for this class. The specific topic
of this essay can be up to you, but in general, the essay should at a minimum do the following:
1. Place the primary text within a specific historical and literary context and explore the cultural
and philosophical concepts or themes characterized by its era. What period or movement is this
work and/or author associated with? You should set this up in the introduction paragraph. End
your intro with a thesis that presents an argument about the work in its historical context or
literary period.
2. Analyze the work.
a. For poetry, examine form, structure, and poetic devices such as rhythm, rhyme, simile,
metaphors, symbols, alliteration, repetition/refrain, onomatopoeia, etc.
b. For nonfiction, analyze the work rhetorically, examining such things as audience,
purpose, ethos, pathos, logos, and other rhetorical strategies and/or literary devices used.
c. For fiction, consider such elements as setting, plot, characterization, theme, point of
view, symbol, tone, style, language, though not all of these are equally important, and
you should concentrate on only those aspects that are relevant and revealing.
 How does the work use these elements or devices to achieve its effects and theme? Go
beyond simple plot summary or overview of the story here, and include analysis and
explanation supported by outside sources.
 Here you should demonstrate your skill in correct use of MLA documentation and
formatting as well as your ability to select and integrate valid secondary sources.
 Quotations should be carefully selected and integrated into your own sentences for
maximum effectiveness.
 Organize your body paragraphs around your main points for this analysis. You will need
about 3 to 5 body paragraphs.
3. Finally, discuss the work and its effect on contemporary culture. It makes sense to do this in the
conclusion paragraph. What impact has the work and/or author had on literature, culture,
history, or society? What other works or writers has this author or work influenced? What
traces of this work do we see in modern culture? Include specific examples rather than vague
statements here. This works well as part of your conclusion, after you have summarized your
main points.
*Be sure to discuss the themes and literary devices used to develop those themes, and also address
historical and/or cultural contexts. Hopefully, you will find that your own specific topic will in fact
be somewhat directed or re-directed by your research.

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