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Barack Obama | UK US Essays
  • April 21st, 2016

Barack Obama

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Essay Three—Tying it All Together:
Primary and Secondary Sources in Discussion; Literary Analysis; Historical Research
Introduction
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.
Focus
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
Requirements
Essay Three must be at least eight and no more than ten pages in length. Include a Works Cited page, which does not count toward the length requirement. Use proper MLA format for your essay and Works Cited page. Essays in improper format will not be accepted and may receive a grade of zero.
Your book and topic proposals must be approved. Essays submitted without Mrs. Villarreal’s approvals may receive a score of zero. You will also submit a required annotated bibliography before the final draft (more on that later).
You must have five to seven secondary sources in addition to your primary source (the book you choose). Your secondary sources must include at least one book, two scholarly sources, and two credible websites. The remaining two can be any credible source, including personal interviews.
Carefully evaluate your sources to ensure their reliability and relevance. Avoid poor sources such as Wikipedia, content farms like Ehow.com and About.com, book reviews, random blogs, internet comments, etc. Poor source choice will be enough to fail your paper.
In each body paragraph, include at least one direct quotation and at least one paraphrase/summary. Also, in each body paragraph, include information from both primary and secondary sources. Properly integrate and punctuate each source use. Use block quotation style for direct quotations that run longer than four typed lines. Properly cite each source use in MLA format. Refer to the Stylebook for help. Avoid plagiarism. Follow the claim-evidence-analysis format for body paragraphs, and develop their main ideas using two to four pieces of evidence and analysis.
Maintain formal voice and write in the literary present tense.
You may use MLA-style section headings to divide your paper into sections if you wish, but this is not required.
Use all the skills you learned in Composition I; visit the Writing Process link on Mrs. Villarreal’s faculty webpage for a refresher, if needed.
Your essay should be comprised of at least five paragraphs: introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. Your introduction should include an attention-getter (hook), name the author and title of the primary text, provide some context to your discussion, and include a clear thesis statement near the end of the paragraph. After introducing an author by full name, use only his or her last name thereafter. Each body paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence, and its main idea should be developed using details and explanations (evidence and analysis). Your conclusion should wrap up your discussion and main ideas and restate your thesis.
Audience:
Consider your audience to be your instructor and members of the class, who may be unfamiliar with your book. However, you should only provide the bare minimum of summary necessary to understand your argument. Do not waste space with unnecessary summary—think about what your reader needs to know to understand your ideas.
Evaluation:
Essay Three will be evaluated out of one hundred points according to the Grading Criteria for Writing Assignments. Essays that fail to reach the length requirement will not pass, nor will essays lacking proper MLA format. Late work is not accepted.
Research Paper Final Draft: 50% of final grade
Research Paper Process Work: 10% of final grade (proposals, drafts, peer review, etc.)

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