• April 21st, 2016

Barack Obama

Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements

Essay  Three—Tying it All Together:
Primary and Secondary Sources in Discussion; Literary Analysis; Historical Research
During this unit, we have explored methods of research. This essay asks you to combine all the skills we have learned this semester: to put primary and secondary sources in discussion with each other, to conduct literary analysis, and to conduct effective research. Through exploration of a text of your choosing, you will demonstrate your mastery of all these skills.
You will choose a book for the primary text for the research paper, following these guidelines:
• The book should be related to a historical event/person/period. This can include more recent happenings and people—they’re a part of history, too!
• The book should be of a college-appropriate reading level—no children’s books. Young adult literature may be acceptable, depending on the topic.
• The book should provide an opportunity for literary analysis—this is usually possible with any text, but some are better suited for literary analysis than others.
• There is no strict length requirement for the book, but it should provide fodder for research and analysis.
• The book may be fiction or non-fiction.
• The book should interest you, spark your passion, provide insight into a topic you care about, or otherwise excite you! Choosing a text and topic you want to learn more about will make this project and process much more enjoyable.
• You may use a book you have already read, but not 12 Years a Slave or The Invention of Wings.
Your goal with this essay is four-fold:
1) To identify at least one historical fact or event referenced in the book you want to learn more about
2) To conduct a literary analysis of the book, and relate that analysis to the historical element(s) you explore.
3) To conduct appropriate and effective research, finding sources that provide relevant information and that deepen your understanding of the history or literary techniques used in the text
4) To use your research to support your original ideas about the text
In essence, you will be using your research to deepen your understanding of the historical elements and literary techniques found in your book.
For example: A student writing a similar essay on 12 Years a Slave might choose to research the historical topic of bounty hunters. The student would find secondary sources that provided more information about that topic. Then, the student would conduct a literary analysis, perhaps discussing Northup’s matter-of-fact writing style, and how it underscored the dreadful circumstances in which he found himself. The student could also research “memoirs,” and discuss how Northup’s writing fits into that genre. A thesis statement for such an essay might read, “As demonstrated in Solomon Northup’s harrowing memoir 12 Years a Slave, and emphasized by his matter-of-fact writing style, bounty hunters were a major concern for free black people during the pre-abolition era.”
Another example: A student writing about The Invention of Wings could research the real lives of Sarah and Anglina Grimké, using secondary sources to provide more information about their lives. Then, the student could research the author and learn about her writing style, applying that information to an analysis of this text. The student might learn about how the author’s life affected the production of this text—perhaps her own life and times somehow inspired or affected the production of this book. A thesis statement for such an essay might read, “Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, which was inspired by real events in her life, uses symbolism to demonstrate to the reader the bravery of real-life abolitionists Sarah and Angelina Grimké.”
Common Topics for Literary Analysis
• Characterization/characters
• Figurative language
• Imagery
• Plot
• Point of view
• Setting
• Mood/atmosphere • Structure
• Symbols/motifs
• Tone
• Theme
• Conflict
• Author’s life and times
Read more about the elements of literary analysis in Chs. 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 in your textbook, or try these helpful websites:
The Five Essential Elements of Fiction Analysis
Literary Analysis: Using Elements of Literature

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