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4 pages / 1100 words

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Research Essay

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Essay Requirements

Write an essay (1200 words) that defends a thesis you developed through researching an author of any literary work in the syllabus and supported by resources (see Annotated Bibliography requirements). This essay still relies on textual support from the primary text, but includes at least three (3) secondary sources that support/sustain the thesis. You may take any of the following research approaches or a combination of them:

  • write about the author (biography, writing, etc.)
  • write about the author’s writing style, techniques used, commonly used elements (themes, characters, etc.)
  • write about possibly external influences on the author’s works (historical, political, societal, etc.)


10% Introduction

The student establishes the importance of the literary theme or topic being analyzed in his/her opening paragraph. The essay uses an anecdote or some research to demonstrate why the chosen subject is significant to the primary text being analyzed. The introduction insists on the need to redefine the issue.

15% Thesis

The thesis asserts a clear and coherent interpretation of the selected theme or topic, explaining the theme/topic’s function within either the work or the work’s genre.

15% Organization and Development

On a paragraph by paragraph basis, the essay uses transition devices and topic sentences to remind readers of the basic thesis being argued. Each paragraph demonstrates proficiency with literary analysis by explicating cited passages. Secondary sources (research) are cited to support the student’s thesis, or as a contrast to it. Each paragraph is welldeveloped.

20% Research and Content

The essay employs a combination of secondary sources from the Troy University library catalogue and online databases to demonstrate knowledge of existing criticism on the chosen theme or topic in the work selected. (The ratio of books to periodicals is up to the individual instructor).

15% MLA Formatting, including in-text parenthetical citation and Works Cited

The essay demonstrates proficiency with the use of parentheses to designate the page of a cited quote from either the primary or secondary source, recognizing that MLA does not make use of “p.” or “pg.” The student demonstrates knowledge of when to include the author’s last name within the parentheses (Bishop 106) and when not to (106). The Works Cited page demonstrates a commitment to the proper MLA formatting procedures outlined in our Hacker book. Among these procedures: listing authors in alphabetical order by last name; authors’ last names listed first, followed by first name; proper citation of title using italics for full-length books and quotation marks for article, short story, and poems; use of place, publisher, and date of publication for books and journal title, volume and issue, date of publication, and page numbers for articles; use of punctuation including periods, commas, and semi-colons; and proper acknowledgment of medium of publication, including use of “Print” for physical books (“hard copy”) and articles consulted and URL and date access documentation for sources read online (Web. Date).

10% Conclusion

The student has incorporated a clear conclusion that goes beyond simply summarizing the topic to include the potential implications of their analysis.

15% Punctuation/Grammar

The student has followed punctuation and grammar rules throughout the paper. The student has also paid attention to accuracy in spelling and the overall formatting of the paper.

Topic Proposal Exercise

The purpose of the topic proposal is to 1) learn to determine and plan an effective essay topic, 2) define a thesis and summarize the essay plan, and 3) present your plan effectively in writing.


  1. Select your research essay topic from the options available.
  2. Define your thesis (the main point you wish to make to your reader).
  3. Write a 200-250 word paragraph presenting your thesis, along with what you plan to research/include and why you chose the selected author.


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