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Literature essay

English 104 Literary Research Essay

This assignment fulfills the AA program learning outcome for written fluency: Compose written arguments that are coherent, grammatically correct, and rhetorically aware.

This essay will demonstrate your ability to identify a theme in a text, narrow your focus, and compose an arguable thesis statement. You will be required to use two secondary (scholarly) sources to help support or illuminate that argument.

A few possible prompts are listed below, but you may also come up with your own topic. If you decide to select your own topic, you must email your instructor so that he or she can offer advice and be assured that you have a clear thesis statement before you begin to write.

Possible Prompts:

1. What is the significance of honor in Much Ado About Nothing? How is female honor different from that of male honor? In the end, does honor do more harm or more good? Explain and support your answer.

2. How do the directorial decisions made by Kenneth Branagh in his 1993 film version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing change the nature of the play? (Or, if you think they don’t, explain why not).

For example, you might explain the differences between the political environment of the play versus the movie, or the nuances of Hero’s character that may or may not be lost in Branagh’s film. Then you would argue why these differences are important (how do they change the meaning of the play?).

3. Explain the importance of “noting” in this play. You can focus on one kind of “noting” or you can focus on one subtopic in the play and show how “noting” occurs on several levels. Review the introduction to Much Ado for more details.

4. In August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, Citizen and Caesar are both responsible for a man’s death. Who bears more guilt for that? Explain and support your answer.

5. What effects does slavery still have on the characters in Gem of the Ocean, some forty years after its abolition? Why is this important?

6. What is Aunt Ester’s role in August Wilson’s play, and why has she selected Black Mary to replace her when the time comes? Wilson saw this character as central to his play—why?

Please use the following requirements for this essay:

1. The paper will be at least 1,500-2,000 words.

2. You will use at least two secondary sources in addition to the literary text you are analyzing. Your Works Cited, then, should have at least three entries.

3. Secondary sources must be scholarly, not popular. (No websites unless that’s how you’ve accessed a scholarly journal). Use the Leatherby librarians (available through the Library link in your class shell) for help if needed.

4. Your paper must include both in-text (or parenthetical) citations and a Works Cited page. The Works Cited will not be included in your word count.

For formatting help, please view:

In-text citations: (You can stop listening at 4:00).

Works Cited Page: