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Final Research Paper

Page history last edited by Abigail Heiniger 4 years, 8 months ago

Return to Assignments




  1. Points: 350 (30% of total grade) 
  2. Length: 8-12 pages. MLA format.
  3. Purpose: Use outside research (from the annotated bibliography) to expand upon a close reading of a long primary text and artifact in ethnic literature (texts/artifacts that we did not for this course).
  4. Paper must include a close reading of a primary text, an artifact and FIVE secondary scholarly sources to create an argument.
  5. Presentations should be around 10 minutes. 
    1. RUBRIC
      1. Ethnic Lit Final Paper Rubric.pdf
      2. Ethnic Lit Final Paper Rubric.docx  
  7. Post final papers on your personal roster page AND on TURNITIN 


Scaffolded Assignments


The final project builds on the close reading paper and the annotated bibliography project. 


 1. Close Reading Paper (project one) 

      1. Here's link describing how to do a close reading if you need a refresher: http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/how-do-close-reading.  


  • The Nineteenth Century in Print and Making of America Project: finding an artifact (relating to your final project). 


    1. Find and identify an artifact from online databases above.

    2. Library of Congress (see Special Collections, including Prints and Photographs and Historic Newspapers) 


  •  Making Connections: texts and artifacts.
    1. Think about the course theme of race, sex, and citizenship. In 3-5 paragraphs, discuss how you see this theme developing in both your artifact and one of your primary texts  


  •  Thesis and Outline 
  • Rough Draft Workshop
  • Conferences
  • Final Presentations
  • Final Draft (Paper) 



For the final research paper, you will choose a theme from the course to explore, combining secondary research with a close reading of a primary text and artifact (see the example above). The final paper should make an argument (have a clear thesis) and engage in a meaningful way with previous scholarship on this text and topic. Although you should support your claims with research, the argument should be your own. This is not a book report, this is a new exploration into ethnic literature in America.  


Since this course teaches students to write within the English major, the research paper should follow standard MLA guidelines. 


The online presentation should convey all the main points of the research paper in an interactive and creative online format. It should include both visual and textual elements. 


Possible Outline:





Body Paragraphs:

  • Topic Sentence (ties to thesis).
  • Example from text.
  • Analysis (close reading).
  • Outside source material.


Every body paragraph should have these four things (not necessarily in this order).



So what? Give the reader a take-away.  




Final Paper Resources:

Remember to check out the resources on our Online Resources page and the links on MyBC. The links and sources there were compiled specifically for this course!



Final Paper: the moves that make good papers


For your final paper, I want you to focus on SOMETHING SPECIFIC (a narrative trope, a theme, a symbol) in a text. Then I want you to create a THESIS and a PAPER that makes four "moves": 

  1. Elaborate on the THING: a) identify the THING (trope, theme, symbol); b) describe a the scene that best illustrates this THING and it's significance (The female body and homosocial/homosexual bonding in Dracula - "The female body is a cite for homosocial bonding that has powerful homosexual tensions in the novel Dracula. This is best illustrated by the male bonding around Lucy's blood transfusions. Through her body and their, these men are connected. They have share something personal, from their bodies and have put it into the same woman. This is a woman who cannot find contentment in one man and knows not which she should choose. This is almost like having the men share their bodies with her and thus, this unifies them intimately.")  
  2. Elaborate on the THING in the text: (i.e. Identify the significant scenes where the female body enables homosocial bonding and explain how these scenes relate to Dracula overarching plot or how these scenes interact with the overarching message of the text, or... make connections from the specific to the whole) 
  3. Connect this THING to literary/social criticism: (i.e. Relate your observations and close readings to other scholars - orient your observations with the scholarly conversation about the text, or the theme, or the genre, or... "Scholars have examined both female bodies and homosocial/homosexual tensions in Dracula, but the role that female bodies play in enabling homosocial/homosexual bonds in this text has not been fully explored.") 
  4. Elaborate on this THING outside the text: (i.e. Connect your THING to cultural context of your text IF POSSIBLE - "It was necessary for Stoker to use female bodies as a catalyst for his most intense homosocial bonds in Dracula because Stoker's Victorian audience was unable to accept overt homoeroticism in fiction.")  


You may find that these four moves blend into each other in your analysis or that one "move" dominates the paper while the other "moves" play supporting roles. Think of these "moves" as SUGGESTIONS, not a series of things to structure your paper. 


Resources for Artifacts and Visual Thinking:



Library of Congress (see Special Collections, including Prints and Photographs and Historic Newspapers)


Outside Sources: 


OUTSIDE SOURCES serve two important functions in a research paper. They establish CONTEXT for an argument and they also construct a scholarly discourse to position the argument.


Outside sources for the final paper are available in SEVERAL places. The histories in the Norton Anthologies are viable sources for CONTEXT. 


SCHOLARLY sources are available through books in the library OR online through library databases (do NOT pay for subscriptions yourself).  

Rough Draft Workshop: Final Paper with Revisions


I have uploaded an example final paper with revisions here (thanks to the brave soul who agreed to be the sacrificial lamb)! Comments deal with:

  1. Reorganization (particularly placing the artifact at the beginning of the analysis to create CONTEXT).
    1. If anyone else is using their artifact to create context for their argument, consider a similar strategy - put it first and relate everything back to it.
    2. Also, consider placing scholarship early enough in the paper to incorporate it into the ARGUMENT (i.e. SPRING BOARD off the scholarly essay/article and ADD TO the current scholarly "conversation" - do not just reinforce/repeat other's work).  
  2. Language/syntax (rewording material to make the argument smoother).
  3. This paper does a GREAT job of close reading (and using that close reading as evidence for an argument)!


Example final paper (with revisions in red).pdf







Strong thesis at the conclusion of the introduction to guide the paper.

Thesis connected and supported in all body paragraphs.

Thesis makes a strong argument about a single theme or idea using the primary text and artifact.

Discussion of the primary text and artifact is coherent and succinct. 

Thesis is vague or spread throughout the introduction and the paper.

Thesis is not clearly connected to all body paragraphs.

Thesis does not make a strong argument about the primary text and/or artifact.


Close Reading

Analyzes the theme of race, sex, and/or citizenship in ethnic literature in or through a primary text and artifact.

Recognizes the complex identity of the author and/or artist as well as the author’s artistic approach.

Close reading brings the primary text and artifact together in meaningful ways.

Places close reading in conversation with secondary sources.

Summarizes and paraphrases evidence from the primary text to support the close reading (only using direct quotes when it is necessary to analyze the language).

Does not clearly analyze a theme from American Literature in or through a primary text and/or artifact.

Close reading does not relate the primary text and artifact in meaningful ways (although it may discuss both separately).

Does not situate close reading among secondary sources.

Primarily summarizes the text or quotes it (rather than analyzing it).


Support (Research)

Integrates support from secondary sources to support close reading.

Creates a clear conversation with secondary sources (without being overpowered by them).

Uses strong evidence from secondary sources.

Summarizes and paraphrases evidence except when quotations are necessary.

Does not integrate support from secondary sources.

Argument is either overpowered or disconnected from secondary sources.

Evidence from secondary sources is not clearly connected with the argument.

Uses unnecessary quotes from the secondary source.



Completed all pre-writing activities on-time (including conferences and rough draft workshop)

Did not complete all pre-writing activities on-time.


Online Presentation 
  • Outline the main points for the final paper.
  • Choose at least 5 visuals/media elements to support the argument. 
  • Have at least 2 interactive elements.
  • Have at least 5 hyperlinks.  




Online Presentation


  1. Due: Last few days of classes.
  2. Length: address all the main points of the final paper with online media (both visual AND text elements).
  3. Purpose:
    1. Convey the argument and message of the research proposal in a succinct, online format.


Scaffolded Steps

  • Outline the main points for the final paper.
  • Choose at least 5 visuals/media elements to support the argument. 
  • Have at least 2 interactive elements.
  • Have at least 5 hyperlinks.  
  • Presentations should be no more than 15 minutes.
    • Presentations may involve brief group activities if appropriate or discussions (no more than 5 minutes).  




Online presentations should convey the main points of your final paper in an interactive, online format. It should have pictures, links, and a revised presentation of the final paper text. 


Online presentations will be shared to the class.  


Online Tools

About Online Writing

Online Space Creators  

  • PBWorks - free wiki builder (excellent for group projects)
  • Webs - free website builder
  • Weebly - free website builder 
  • Wordpress - free blog site 

Media Tools 


Student Example: http://storksprojectfour.webs.com  

This is an example of an online presentation from another class. 


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