This final assignment requires students to conduct research in support of one of the authors assigned over the semester. This research project—the annotated bibliography and research paper—is worth 35% of students’ final grade. Students’ annotated bibliography and research paper grade will depend on four components: suitability of research sources, quality of the analysis of the bibliographic annotation, quality of analysis of research sources and textual evidence in the body of the paper, and adherence to annotated bibliography and research paper guidelines.
Annotated Bibliography Guidelines
Part I: To begin, select a topic related to Junot Díaz’s short story collection Drown or Jesmyn Ward’s novel Sing, Unburied, Sing. Once you have selected a topic, develop a working thesis. Your thesis statement should be real and comprehensive. You must include your thesis to introduce your annotated bibliography at the top of the page below your name and course information. You may find that based on your research that you need to refine your thesis, which is a natural result of research and the learning process in general. Students are required to cite and annotate 4 academic sources.
What is an Annotated Bibliography? An annotated bibliography is a list of citations of scholarly texts, specifically books and articles published by an academic press, peer-reviewed journal, and/or found on academic database. Each citation is proceeded by a brief descriptive, critical analysis. The intent of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance of the sources cited. Each source must be directly related to your topic and thesis statement. Annotations are single-spaced and at least 150 words. Included in the citation is the following:
- Introduction to the author of the source,
- The author’s argument,
- Details regarding how the author presents their argument,
- The strengths and weaknesses of the argument, and
- Most importantly, an explanation of how the source enhances your understanding of your topic
*Students may adapt précis written over the semester so long as it adheres to the following:
- The précis topic directly relates to the student’s research paper topic
- The précis topic directly relates to the student’s research paper thesis
- The précis topic directly relates to at least one of the student’s research paper subtopics
- The information contained in the précis is re-worded and re-formatted to adhere to the 5 annotation parameters outlined above.
Incorrect, incomplete annotations and/or unrelated research sources will be penalized resulting in a lower annotated bibliography grade and likely a lower research paper grade.
London, Herbert. “Five Myths of the Television Age.” Television Quarterly 10.1 (1982): 81-89. Academic Search Premiere. Web. December 2, 2019.
Herbert London, the Dean of Journalism at New York University and noted, published scholar of several books and articles on the television industry, explains how television contradicts five commonly held beliefs. He uses specific televised events, for instance the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to support his argument. London’s examples illustrate contradictions of popular notions, such as “a picture is worth a thousand words” or “seeing is believing.” London’s arguments are well-developed, using appropriate evidence and logical analysis of television culture. London’s approach to the topic as well as his style makes the article readily digestible and likely of interest to a wide audience. In comparison to Smith’s article, London’s article was easier for me to understand the topic, focusing on relevance of perception and truth in American popular culture.
- The purpose of compiling bibliographic research is to develop a well-rounded understanding of an author/text and a specific topic. Rather than simply “agreeing” or “disagreeing” with what others have argued, analysis, i.e. your own interpretation of the secondary source, should present an informed observation on the topic.
- Some of the most helpful sources work may initially appear to work against your argument, but after further inspection, the critical distance presented by the scholar may allow you to expand, develop, and support your argument even further.
- Required sources can either be a book published by an academic press or a peer-reviewed article published in academic journal.
- Students are required to use MLA style format (12pt Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, etc.) and to provide accurate bibliographic information.
Part II: At the end of your list of annotated sources, write a thoughtful 1-page double spaced reflection explaining the ease and/or difficulties you encountered understanding or compiling sources and how the research and annotation process enhanced your understanding of your topic, your thesis, and the selected fictional text.
DUE DATE: December 8, 2021 at 11:59 pm UPLOADED AS A WORD OR PDF DOCUMENT TO BLACKBOARD (WHICH WILL ALSO BE SUBMITTED AUTOMATICALLY TO SAFEASSIGN).
Research Paper Assignment Guidelines
For this assignment students will write a research paper on either Drown or Sing, Unburied, Sing. The goal of this assignment is twofold: one, you will identify and explain a CENTRAL argument that the author is making in the fictional text, and two, you will provide an argument about the significance of the fictional text’s a CENTRAL argument. As such, it is crucial that students follow directions and develop a research-based, thesis-driven analysis that avoids plot summary and includes a MINIMUM of two academic resources.
This final assignment requires students to conduct research in support of one of the prompts below—however, one may develop their own research topic. Regardless, students are required to reference at least two secondary academic sources. The two required sources should either be a book published by an academic press or a peer-reviewed article in academic journal. To receive a passing grade on this assignment, students must quote at least two academic sources in the body of the paper several times. One may, of course, exceed the above requirements, including additional primary sources, so long as the minimum number of required academic sources is met.
Research papers should range between 8-10 pages, with 8 full pages as the minimum. Students are required to use MLA style format (12pt Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, etc.) AND MLA documentation of quotations in parenthetical citations and in the works cited page. In addition to the 8-page minimum, a works cited page must appear at the end of the paper. Students are also responsible for copyediting (spelling, grammar, paragraph structure, MLA format) and for the logic of their argument and organization of their paper. Students are REQUIRED to use primary and secondary textual evidence throughout each body paragraph of the research paper. Be sure to make it clear how analysis of primary textual evidence is supported by secondary research sources and the paper’s central thesis and subtopics.
What to avoid when writing a research analysis
- use of the first- and second-person pronoun (I and you)
- Although we do this all the time when speaking, it makes for a sloppy sounding argument in writing. The first person (the pronoun I) is also taboo unless you are supporting your argument with personal experience: Do not say, "I will present the reasons why. . ." or "I feel* that the author is saying . . .".
- Sweeping statements or contrivances such as “Since the dawn of mankind”
- Excessive quotations (only include block quotes when it is absolutely necessary to the thesis, and be sure the block quote is formatted correctly)
- Don’t “orphan” your quotations; introduce your quotations. Such as: “Ward’s narrative encompasses intergenerational trauma, encapsulated by the novel’s polyvocal narration. Jojo’s confession, “quotation” (page number), makes the theme of intergenerational trauma evident.
- Writing in the past tense. When writing about literature, you must write in the present tense.
How Does One Research and Analyze?
- ARGUE a position, slant, or lens using textual evidence. Analysis is argument, not an opinion paper. A critical analysis does not contain anecdotes. It relies upon close reading and textual evidence or empty “I FEEL” statements.
- Identify a THEME as it relates to the other elements of fiction.
- Remember that literary themes are in essence the central issue that upholds the text’s argument. Without these “issues,” the other elements of fiction do not add up to anything.
- Themes project a view about the text’s issues. In other words, major themes in a novel express implicit or explicit view about the issue. A critical literary analysis connects the dots for the reader, answering the question, “What does it all mean?”
- Examine literary techniques and/or historical setting/intertextual references to demonstrate how these elements help to convey the text’s central argument.
- Order of your argument should make sense and follow some kind of pattern; it should be clear why a particular support area is second or third, not merely that it is second or third. Do not organize the supporting arguments or body paragraphs chronologically. Unless the thesis explicitly interrogates the passage of time as a theme and key literary device, body paragraphs should not be written as a reflection of the in chronological order in which events in the plot transpire.
- The purpose of composing a research paper is NOT simply to find sources that support or agree with your argument. While any writer can successfully accomplish doing that, it inevitably results in a boring and redundant piece of writing, for both the writer and his/her readers. Some of the most helpful sources work against your argument, allowing you to expand, develop and support your argument even further.
- The purpose of composing a research paper IS to develop a well-rounded understanding of your selected topic/issue. Rather than simply “agreeing” or “disagreeing” with what others have argued, you combine various sources with your own interpretation to create an informed conversation on the page. This conversation is centered around and led by one primary voice – yours, made most clear and succinct in your thesis statement.
*Select only ONE novel to write about, either Drown or Sing, Unburied, Sing
1. Character development: In Drown and in Sing, Unburied, Sing the characters, living or dead, uncover unasked questions or unspoken truths. Silence becomes an impediment not just to character’s happiness or social mobility but to literal deliverance, and each character must decide whether or not to rise to the occasion and to let what he or she harbors sound out. Select either Drown or Sing, Unburied, Sing and examine a character’s struggle with the attainment of love, happiness, or success. Who achieves personal growth or a deeper awareness of social or personal issues? What is holding them back and how do they overcome those obstacles (or not)? What forms of adversity is each character seeking to flee (addiction, mental health issues, racism, sexism, domestic abuse, childhood neglect, homophobia, etc)? Choose one character from one of the fictional texts and explain their emotional journey through literary analysis and implementation of secondary research sources, using evidence from the text and secondary references.
2. Storytelling: Select either Drown or Sing, Unburied, Sing to examine the topic of rebellion, particularly from family and/or political and social norms. These fictions of rebellion tend to center on a protagonist, giving greater insight to the topic of rebellion as a personal yet universal element of human nature and/or coming of age. What rebellion narrative does the central protagonist or narrator expose and are they successful in telling that story? How does the character articulate their story (dialogue, narration, plot, structure, literary devices)? Consider the difference in the articulation, such as dialogue versus narration, as a form of character development/characterization. Choose one character from one of the fictional texts and explain the context and outcome of their act(s) of rebellion through literary analysis and implementation of secondary research sources, using evidence from the text and secondary references.
3. Setting: Each novel references a number of real-world places and events, including New Jersey, The Dominican Republic, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast/Gulf of Mexico. Research one place or event that is depicted in either Drown or Sing, Unburied, Sing and develop a thesis about the relevance of a particular time/place in the novel. How does the setting play into the daily lives of the characters? Examine the setting and analyze the novel’s description of the time/place/event. Analyze emotionally charged dialogue or narration about the time/place/event, imagery, tone, and direct/indirect characterization based on evidence from the fictional text. Choose one time/place/event from one of the fictional texts and explain how setting, whether a time, a place, and/or an event impacts the narrative through literary analysis and implementation of secondary research sources, using evidence from the text and secondary references.
4. Genre: Focusing on the coming of age genre, analyze the significance of an author’s criticism of cultural, social, and/or political institution. What institutions, people, or ideas is the author criticizing? Why is coming of age a genre well-suited to cultural, political, or social criticism? How does this critique work in service of the fictional text’s central argument? Choose either Drown or Sing, Unburied, Sing and examine the mental, physical, and/or emotional development of one character’s journey of coming of age. How is does the narrative explore coming of age as a cultural, social and/or political critique? Choose one character from one of the fictional texts and explain the cultural, social and/or political context and outcome of their coming of age experience through literary analysis and implementation of secondary research sources, using evidence from the text and secondary references.
Note: The topic you select should respond to or elaborate on themes or subjects discussed in class, and more importantly, should be about a subject directly related to Díaz’s short story collection or Ward’s novel. Be sure to make your topic as specific as possible in order to answer the “So what?” question of your thesis in an effort to discern the relevance of your topic. If you have an answer to the “So what?” question, this will lead to an informed and engaged thesis.
DUE DATE: December 17, 2021 at 11:59 pm UPLOADED AS A WORD OR PDF DOCUMENT TO SAFEASSIGN BY 11:59 PM.
Avoid a non-debatable, predictable, or simplistic thesis:
“There are many motifs, a prevalent motif being hair and passing.”
Instead, develop a unique, specific, contestable thesis:
“The author addresses the complexity of multiracial, transnational coming of age. The text’s non-linear, second-person narrative offers literal and metaphorical reflections of characters’ struggle with racial identity. Using hair as a motif, Díaz interrogates multiracial visibility and internalized racism, using hair as a motif to present a unique passing narrative that explores themes of racial passing, phenotype, and visibility.
Sometimes it can seem intimidating to “criticize” a novel. However, part of this exercise is to expose the fact that even though the author is highly qualified, they are still advancing an argument and using literary devices to persuade readers that their argument is true, not to just present facts. Once you identify a central argument that the author is making, you can analyze whether or not you find their argument compelling. Following are some possible questions you could ask to evaluate Ward’s arguments and develop your critical analysis:
• Definitional questions - Are all the concepts in the text clear? Does the author define a concept vaguely to allow it to travel across different situations? If a concept can relate two seemingly different situations, is the concept meaningful? Do the specific language choices of the author betray a certain ideology or bias, or frame the argument in a certain way?
• Evidence questions- Does the author’s language and literary techniques support their argument? Does the author underemphasize or ignore evidence that is contrary to their argument? Is an argument compelling if it ignores an obvious exception? Is the author’s argument consistent throughout the novel? Or, does the ending seem to offer a different argument than what is presented in the opening chapters?