Beloved by Toni Morrisson

English 102 Research Paper Assignment
Overview:
Students will compose a research paper of
at least five full pages
and no more than
eight pages in which they analyze a popular novel from the list below. Very short synopses of
these can be found in Module 1 in the “Course Overview” page:

The Silence of the Lambs
by Thomas Harris

Fight Club
by Chuck Palahniuk

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

Beloved
by Toni Morrison
Each of these novels has many
themes
. A theme is an underlying message communicated
through a piece of writing. Remember, a theme is rarely stated out loud but is rather implied by
a text. The theme of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is not to tell lies. The theme of
Titanic
is to
live in the moment, or not to judge people by social class. The theme of
Frozen
is the danger of
hiding who we really are.
Your job is to read one of these novels, decide what you think the
theme
is (keeping in mind that
a book can have more than one), and then to argue that your interpretation of the theme is the
correct one. In your papers up to this point, you have only used quotations directly from the text
for your supporting evidence. For this paper, you will
still use quotes from the text
but you
will also add to that
outside sources
. The idea is to do research and find others writing about the
same book (or the same theme in other works) as you are who have similar interpretations. You
can then use their interpretations to support your own.
A Note on Longer Papers:
Up to this point, you have written short papers. You’ve had three
points in your thesis, which translated to just writing three body paragraphs, one paragraph for
each point. So how do you expand a paper? You will still have just
three
thesis points. Each of
those points, however, will now translate into multiple paragraphs. Imagine I have the following
thesis: “Female empowerment is an important theme in
Trifles
as evidenced by the women’s
defense of Mrs. Wright, the author’s depiction of the male characters as incompetent, and the
ultimate justice being served.”
In a short paper, I would just write one paragraph about each point. I would only have to write
one paragraph about the women’s defense of Mrs. Wright, for example. In a longer paper,
however, I would have multiple paragraphs about the women’s defense of Mrs. Wright. I would
try to expand that idea so that one paragraph covers their defense of her household and one
paragraph covers their defense of her crime. Therefore, my paper is still divided into three
sections, but each section will contain multiple paragraphs relating to the same point instead of
just one.

General Guidelines:

You must earn a C or higher on this paper to pass the class. Even if you could
mathematically pass the class with a D or F, BPCC policy states that you still cannot
pass.

You cannot write about a novel if it is not on my list.

You cannot even come close to passing the research paper by watching a film version. I
intentionally chose books that are very different from their movie versions. There is
truly, truly, truly no way around reading a book. Read a book!

You may not do any of your research by Googling or random internet searching. All
sources must come from BPCC’s library or library databases. In other words, there
should be
no websites
on your Works Cited Page.

You must
generate your own thesis
. I will help you organize your paper, work through
your ideas, edit your mechanics, and sharpen your argument, but I will NOT tell you
what to write or what the theme of a work is. That is part of your job as a 102 student.
Specific Guidelines:
1) Every outside source you use must have a corresponding entry on your Works Cited
page. (Instructions for making a Works Cited page will be covered in the Week 10
module in the MLA Style Powerpoint.)
2) Every quotation from the novel or from an outside source must be placed in quotation
marks and given an appropriate citation. (Covered in MLA Style Powerpoint.)
3) All sources must come from BPCC’s library or library databases. (I will provide you
with a detailed video on how to do library research from home.)
4) No more than
one
brief quotation from the text and
one
brief quotation from an outside
source should be included in a single paragraph. Long quotations (longer than three
lines) are generally not permitted.
5) Your paper must be five full pages long, but can be longer. If you turn in a four-page
paper, I will start grading it at an 80%. If you turn in a three-page paper, I will start
grading it at 70%. Remember, you need a C (70%) or better to pass the assignment.
6) Any information in the paper from outside sources that is not placed in quotation marks
and cited appropriately will be considered intentional plagiarism. Even one plagiarized
sentence means that your whole paper is plagiarized, and will receive an automatic zero.

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