7-9 Page Research Paper

Unit 2: The Big Essay

Overview:  The culmination of Unit 2 is Essay 2, a research paper, the Big Essay of the semester, and the central project of all 1102 classes.  We will be doing the essay in parts, using writing tools you’ve been practicing, and introducing new ones: writing about literature, using a microscope, researching, integrating research into your writing, documenting sources, etc.  Some of your research and thinking will be done alone, some in groups, some as a class, and all if it will of it is done in response to the research and thinking of your peers, just as research and thinking and writing is done by professional academics, and other professionals in the workforce.  Ultimately, though, every student will write and revise his/her own research paper.  In the lead-up to the paper, you will do group presentations, an annotated bibliography, and other exercises as needed to prepare you for the essay.  Below are descriptions of the major parts.

Group Topics and Presentations:  Topics will be decided in class by Tuesday, February 27.  Topics will grow out of our discussion of “The Hunger Artist” and might include events, phenomena, or other texts, which we are inspired by the story to research.  The groups have three purposes: 1) to help individuals research and write The Big Essay;  2) to find and present a source to the class;  and 3) to compile an annotated bibliography that the whole class can use to write their individual essays.

The presentations will be a competition between the groups:  Each group will select one source it thinks the entire class should have to use in their research essays (just as everyone used Foner’s “American Freedom” in the Microscope essay).  On Tuesday, March 6, in a 15 minute presentation to the class, the group will try to convince everyone that their source is The One.  These sources may only be from scholarly books or journals.***

When the presentations are finished, the class will vote to select the source everyone must use.  Thus, the group with the best source and presentation wins.   Because everyone will have to use this source, groups should select a widely applicable piece; it should NOT just be applicable to the group’s topic.

Because we cannot have duplicate sources presented to the class, as soon as your group locates it’s source, it needs to POST THE LINK or CITATION to WebCampus by 5pm on Monday, March 5 (in the “Sources for Presentation” link in the Discussion Board part of WebCampus). 

How you present your source is up to you—you can use costumes, visual aids, hand-outs, games, whatever.  Be creative!  You are being graded, remember.  No computers or power-point.  EVERYONE in your group must talk, and you MUST:

  1. Explain WHAT your source is (author, journal, title, date).
  2. Explain WHY it is a strong source for Essay 3.
  3. Go into detail—your presentation should be 15 minutes long!

But you MUST NOT:

1. Read from the source—you should know the source better than to read from it.

*** Please keep in mind, always, the difference between mainstream and scholarly sources—when you search, remember that Jstor only yields scholarly sources, and if you click on the “scholarly journals” tab in Proquest, you’ll also get scholarly sources there.

Annotated Bibliography:  Each group will collaborate to assemble an annotated bibliography, a common and extremely useful tool for anyone doing research.  The purpose of an annotated bibliography is to help you evaluate your sources in a way that is meaningful to your community of scholars—in this case, that community is made up of the other members of this class.   Each group will produce an annotated bibliography of 4 sources that might be useful in writing your research essay.  You will post to the “Annotated Bibliographies” thread in a WebCampus Discussion for others to view and use when they need a source. 

Each group’s Annotated Bibliography should include at least

  1. TWO articles from scholarly journals (i.e. critical essays about the selected short story or the time period in which the story is set)
  2. ONE article from an intellectual mainstream periodical (like the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, or Harper’s).
  3. ONE chapter from a scholarly book (the group should have photocopies available)
  4. Optional: another primary source (a film, short story, song, photograph, etc.)

You can divide the labor in your group however you choose—generally, each person should contribute 1 or 2 sources and their annotations.  But you should DECIDE AS A GROUP which are the BEST sources from your research to put on this list. 

NB:  You are not to use the Internet (i.e. Google) to search for sources.

NB 2: DO NOT be limited by full-text online essays.  You may actually have to go to the library and photocopy the best sources!

The annotated bibliography is extremely important because together, all the group’s bibliographies will be the only sources you can use on your essays.  So, DON’T REPEAT SOURCES!!  Stay in contact with the other groups so you have plenty of rich, different sources to choose from when it comes time to write your essays.

At this point, you are gathering information, sorting out the more pertinent sources from the less pertinent sources, and choosing the best reading that interests you the most.  Your bibliography should reflect  your selective critical thinking.  This is the format for your each of you annotations:

  1. a bibliographic citation in MLA format, in BOLD print, like the ones in your Works Cited.  Consult Rules for Writers for the ways to record different kinds of sources
  2. a 2-3 sentence description of what your source is about
  3. a 2-3 sentence assessment of what the source might be useful for and why

In-Class Essay 2:  In-Class Essay 2 will be given on Thursday, March 22, the week after Spring Break, and will ask you to write about “The Hunger Artist” and at least one of the sources.

The Big Essay itself:   

Drawing on your research, you will write an essay of 2500-3000 words based on Franz Kafka’s “The Hunger Artist,” using at least 3 critical sources (one of which will be the required source you chose based on the group presentations); other primary texts (stories, poems, films) will not count toward the required 3 critical sources.

The essay will use MLA citation and have a list of Works Cited.  For this essay, as for the Microscope Essay, you must useanoriginal, literary main  argument and the other essay-writing skills you’ve practiced since 1101.

  1. Your first draft should have the formal elements described in the “Policies.”   It should also demonstrate your ability to select and use the various tools (comparing, microscope, analysis, etc) you have practiced since 1101.

    ****NB: This draft should be a FULL, not a partial, draft.  I will not comment on partial drafts.
  2. Your second draft should obviously have all the elements of the first, but should be a real rethinking and revision of that draft.  It might require new sources and different tools.

    *****NB:  This draft should be a FULL, not a partial, draft.  I will not comment on partial drafts.
  3. The final draft should convince yourself, as well as this community, that you are writing—and will continue to write better and more—impressive critical research essays.

Commenting on Drafts:  I will comments on half of the Draft 1s; the other half will receive workshop comments.  For Draft 2, we will swap:  I will comment on the half that got workshopped in Draft 1, and the half I commented on first will be workshopped.