Critical Literary Analysis

Term Paper/Essay

Your task in this paper is to write a 2000-word critical literary analysis supported by researched evidence.   What you are doing in the third section of your weekly Reading Responses IS critical literary analysis, so I’m asking you here to do that on a bigger and grander scale.  And yes, you may use those RRs to get started, expand upon, etc.  They are designed to give you practice, and I have no issue with you plunking down a fabulous Critical Analysis section and growing it into a paper.

So, to complete this paper, you must choose a topic from among the texts that we have studied or will study this summer, and then begin to research the texts to find evidentiary support for your claim (your thesis).  You must use research to support your analysis, and you must use at least eight  ACADEMIC, SCHOLARLY RESEARCH sources to do so.  Do NOT write a biography of an author, a summary of the text, or an opinion paper expressing your likes and dislikes.  Similarly, move beyond cursory reading response into the realm of sustained analysis.  Always, consult your syllabus for particulars as well. When submitting this paper, please identify IN THE HEADING which text you have chosen.

When you are choosing your topic, you want to think about this in terms of researchability – that is, whether or not you will be able to find research to help support your claims.  If you would like to look at more than one text, that’s fine; however, you should not use more than three primary sources (literary texts) for this paper as the idea is to drill down deeply, not to glance across the surface.

There are two ways that you can do this paper:

1.   You can choose up to three texts and find something that they have in common – perhaps a literary device like theme or setting – and look at the ways in which they treat that something.


2.   You can choose one text and find several things to say about it.  For example, you might decide to examine character, setting, and theme in The Awakening.

Either approach is fine, but three is the magic number; I need to see that you can do more than just point things out, and I need to see that you can make smart connections when you write.  Obviously, some of our chosen texts this semester will be easier to work with than others; that’s why you’ll turn in a Topic Thesis Report (TTR), an outline, and a Works Cited page just to make sure that you’re on the right track and so that I can help you to be so if you’re heading off into bad places.  If you do not submit at TTR and receive my approval, I will not grade your paper; obviously, you must submit it by the syllabus deadline if you hope to receive points for it, and I hope that you all do so.

Of the eight or more sources that you will use in the paper, only one may be a strictly Internet or other free web electronic source – research databases are exempt from this rule, and you may use as many as you wish. (General encyclopedias, the Wikipedia, dictionaries, and study aids like are never appropriate sources, and your grade will be lowered significantly if you use one despite my explicit prohibition).  Be sure that you include not only quoted but also paraphrased and summarized research material to back up and prove what you say, and use proper MLA-format documentation when you do so.  If you have questions about the appropriateness of a source, please DO NOT GUESS; instead, ask me and send me the full citation when you do so.

Because this is a literature class, it assumes that you remember how to write research papers from your composition courses; therefore, we will not be studying the research paper writing process in depth. There are plenty of resources out on the web; LinkedIn Learning has a great course in research writing that you may wish to watch (it’s only about two hours long) that is free to you if you register using your MCC e-mail address; and I’m happy to answer any questions that you might have.

You will need a properly formatted MLA Works Cited page (DON’T GUESS!!!) as well as correct MLA in-text citations for each source that you use.  A good guideline is not to exceed two in-text citations per page, or approximately sixteen in a paper of this length.  As to the use of long quotes, you may use two in this paper, and no more.  If this sounds like Greek to you, you really should review your MLA style guide as this is going to be one component of your grade.

Your grade on this paper will be determined based upon how effectively you do the following: (1)        Formulate a strong thesis including an arguable claim and reasons

(2)        Identify and BRIEFLY summarize your piece of literature (no more than 1.5 pages on plot


(3)        React to and critically analyze at least one aspect of the piece

(4)        Use evidence to support your reaction/critical analysis

(5)        Use detail to explain thoroughly the position that you are attempting to argue

(6)        Organize your paper logically into fully developed paragraphs linked with transitions

(7)        Proofread and employ correct grammar and mechanical structure

(8)        Use correct MLA in-text citation and Works Cited (which is a separate page and does NOT count toward satisfying your word count)

(9)        Proper paper format as listed in the syllabus.

When you submit this online, I will then submit it to an online plagiarism-checking tool.  I cannot imagine that any of you would try to cheat your way through this paper, but remember that the syllabus spells out very clearly what happens to such cheaters.  I do not want that to happen to any of you. Remember that this must be submitted as ONE SINGLE FILE.  I will not grade papers that are submitted in pieces; if you are one of those students who insist upon making a separate file for your Works Cited page, please integrate it into your paper before submitting it.

This paper is worth 300 points or 30% of your final grade.  You absolutely can do this, but start early, ask questions, and be your most brilliant self.

Good luck!

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