Topics: For this assignment, the student should write on a work or works by one or more of the authors included in the course or on some intellectual movement that is relevant to an author’s works. Students should confer with the professor before deciding on a topic. You must write on the works that we read in this course. You cannot choose a topic that you have written on in your journal or anywhere else. Remember: the critical paper is an interpretative writing assignment. You are to try to discern the author’s intention as you discuss theme, character, use of setting, etc. When writing about literature, do not use “I” or “you.” The grade will be dropped one calendar letter for every day it is late.
Length: The paper should be 4-5 complete typewritten pages, double-spaced, with standard margins (i.e., 1” top; 1 ¼” right’; 1 ½” bottom; 1 ¼” left). Title Page and Works Cited Page must not be included in your page-count. The paper should be typed in TIMES NEW ROMAN font size 12. Use of other fonts and larger type size will result in grade penalties. Title page and works cited page must not be included in your page count. The research paper must follow the MLA Handbook in all matters of style and documentation.
Format: The paper must follow the MLA Handbook in all matters of style and documentation.
Number of Sources:
– Your paper must have at least one primary source. In addition to the primary sources, students must have at least three secondary sources.
– A secondary source is an authoritative book or article written about a piece of literature. Secondary sources do not include encyclopedias, study guides (e.g., Cliff’s Notes, Sparks Notes, etc.), personal Web sites, chat rooms, Wikipedia articles, any supplemental essays included in your textbook, etc.
– You should incorporate others’ views into your essay as support for your own opinions or as information to establish a foundation for your own ideas.
– Do not rely extensively on lengthy quotations from the secondary sources. Instead, summarize and paraphrase; quote primarily for emphasis or to establish the validity of your presentation of the sources’ ideas.
– Direct quotations from any of your sources should be no longer than five lines (your lines) long.
– You must list all of your sources in a separate Works Cited page. Use the MLA Handbook as your guide.
Citing Sources Using the MLA Format
1. Your paper MUST be written using the MLA style of documentation. You must the source of direct quotations AND paraphrased versions of direct quotations. Failure to do so will result in a plagiarized research paper.
2. You should have used MLA documentation in EH 102 when you wrote your research paper. Most grammar handbooks, including the handbook you used in Freshman Composition, include instructions for using the MLA format. You can also find instructions for using the MLA format on the Internet. Examples include “Citation Styles Handbook MLA” or “MLA Formatting and Style Guide—The OWL at Purdue.”
3. The titles of shorter works (e.g., poems, essays, short stories, song titles, etc.) are enclosed in parenthesis. The titles of longer works (e.g., plays, novels, books, etc.) are underlined or italicized.
4. If the author’s name is not cited in the text, enclose his or her name and the page number in parenthesis:
William Faulkner had ambivalent attitudes toward Negroes (Blottner 88). Notice that the period is placed after the second parenthesis and the author’s name and the page number ARE NOT separated by a comma.
5. If the author’s name is cited in the text, enclose the page number in parentheses:
Joseph Blottner believes that William Faulkner had ambivalent attitudes toward Negroes (88).
6. If you are using more than one work by the same author in your paper, place a comma after the author’s last name, add a shortened version of the title of the work, and supply the relevant page numbers. Another solution is to cite the author’s last name and title in your sentence and then add the page numbers in a parenthetical reference.
Once society reaches a certain stage of industrial growth, it will shift its energies to the production of services (Toffler, Future 221). Toffler argues in The Third Wave that society has gone through two eras—agricultural and industrial—and is now entering the information age (26).
7. Every quotation must be cited, but the introduction to the quotation does not have to be cited:
Medieval historian M.T. Clancy explains the effects of our dependence on written texts in From Memory to Written Record: England, 1066-1307: “Reliance on literacy can be narrowing because it restricts communication to those who have learned its techniques” (76).
8. If several consecutive sentences refer to the same author and the same page number, only the last sentence needs to be cited:
The new cathedral was started in 1250. As it reached completion in 1260, Chartres asserted it pre-eminence as a center of learning. Clergy, scholars, and philosophers congregated beneath the towering spires, forming one of the most important schools in the age. As Payton Cowen points out, the School as Chartres was interested in how the word of God evolved through the ages and through all areas of knowledge (14).
9. If several consecutive sentences by the same author are interrupted by a paragraphse or quotation by a different author, the previous author’s name must be once again enclosed in parentheses when the writer returns to him:
The Ancient Mariner is briefly comforted by sleep and rain (Jones 19). However, his sin is not yet expiated, and his penance soon begins anew (55). When at last he is absolved of his guilt, his whole being has been transformed by the experience (Brown 21). He becomes a seer who travels from land to land (Jones 56).
Using Direct Quotations
I. HOW DOES ONE QUOTE LONG PASSAGES?
When you quote a passage that exceeds three typewritten lines, set it off from the rest of the text by block format. With an appropriate introductory sentence, block format starts the long quotation on a new line and indents it ten spaces or one inch from the left margin. There is a double space above and below the quotation, but there are no quotation marks, and the parenthetical citation appears outside the period:
For Umberto Eco, the universe of signs produced by culture may be conceived as a net-like labyrinth:
The main feature of a net is that every point can be connected with every other point
and where the connections are not yet designed, they are, however, conceivable and
designable. A net is an unlimited territory. The territory of the United States does not
anybody to reach Dallas from new York by passing through St. Louis, Missouri; one can
can also pass through New Orleans. (81)
II. HOW DOES ONE QUOTE POETRY?
Similar rules apply to quoting poetry as to quoting prose. When the quotation is fewer than four lines, integrate it within your text, enclosing it within quotation marks. Make sure to separate the lines of the poem with slashes. Each slash is preceded and followed by a space. The numbers in parentheses are line numbers, not page numbers:
Pope’s line on with sums up Augustan criticism: “True wit is nature to advantage dressed /
What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed” (297-298)
If the poetic quotation is four lines or longer, set it off in block format:
In Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18,” three liens of the opening quatrain present images of time:
Shall I compare the to a summer’s day?
Thou are more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. (1-4)
Researching a Topic
1. You must choose a work from our textbook, The Norton Anthology of American Literature. This must be a work (or works) that we have read this semester. If you would like to write on a work from the text that was not assigned, you must clear the topic with me first.
2. Secondary sources can be found on the Library’s website and on the Internet By accessing the Library’s website on UWA’s home page, you can access the MILA Bibliography:
a. Click on “Current Students, Faculty and Staff.”
b. Click on “Library.”
c. Click on Databases A-Z.
d. Scroll down to M”LA International Bibliography.”
e. Click on “Liked Full Text” to make sure that you do not generate abstracts of articles.
f. Type the title of the work you are researching in the box.
g. Click on “Search.
h. After the list of articles appears, click on the title of the article you would like to look at.
i. To email the article to yourself, click on the Email icon (envelope) on the right-hand side of the screen.
3. I prefer that all of your secondary sources are taken from the MLA Bibliography. If you are forced to use a source from the Internet, you must clear it with me first.
4. The work (or works) must be the focus of your paper. Your primary purpose is to support your interpretation of the work. Therefore, you should use secondary sources only to support (i.e., add credibility or authority to) your interpretation. Most of your paper should consist of direct references to the primary source (i.e., the work you are interpreting). If you focus primarily on secondary sources, your paper will become nothing more than an annotated bibliography.
5. The best approach to this assignment involves tracing a common theme running from two or more works by the same author or by different authors of the same period. Secondary sources would be used to substantiate your claim that these themes are indeed present in your primary sources.
6. Showing how the life of an author influenced his or her work is also a viable approach to an interpretative paper. For example, you might consider how the deaths of Poe’s mother, stepmother, and his wife influenced his short stories (EH231) or how Hemingway modeled the character of Margot in “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” after his wife Pauline Pfeiffer (EH 232). Once again, be sure that the focus of the paper is the work, not the life of the writer. BIOGRAPHIES OF WRITERS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.
7. Regardless of which topic you choose, pass it by the instructor to make sure you are on the right track.
8. All of your primary and secondary sources must be listed in a separate Works Cited page included at the very end of the paper. All of your sources must be written in the MLA style of document. YOUR WORKS CITED PAGE DOES NOT COUNT IN THE TOTAL NUMBER OF REQUIRED PAGES.
Types of Plagiarism
In all work done for this course, the student is expected to observe university policies regarding plagiarism and academic honesty; the academic misconduct policies of the University of West Alabama as stated in the student handbook, the Tiger Paw, will be followed for this assignment
Anyone who has written a paper knows that plagiarism s not always a black-and-white issue. The boundary between plagiarism and research is often unclear. Learning to recognize the various forms of plagiarism, especially the more ambiguous ones, is an important step in the fight to prevent it.
I. SOURCES NOT CITED
a. “The Ghost Writer”
i. The writer turns in another’s work, word-for-word, as his or her own.
b. “The Photocopy”
i. The writer copies significant portions of text straight from a single source, without alterations.
c. “The Potluck Paper”
i. The writer tries to disguise plagiarism by copying from several different sources, tweaking the sentences to make them fit together while retaining most of the original phrasing.
d. “The Poor Disguise”
i. Although the writer has retained the essential content of the source, he or she has altered the paper’s appearance slightly, by changing key words and phrases,
e. “The Labor of laziness”
i. The writer takes the time to paraphrase most of the paper from other sources and make it all fit together, instead of spending the same effort on original work.
f. “The Self-Stealer”
i. The writer “borrows” generously from his or her previous work, violating policies concerning the expectation of originality adopted by most academic institutions.
II. SOURCES CITED (BUT STILL PLAGIARIZED!)
a. “The Forgotten Footnote”
i. The writer mentions an author’s name for a source but neglects to include specific information on the location of the material referenced. This often masks other forms of plagiarism by obscuring source locations.
b. “The Misinformer”
i. The writer provides inaccurate information regarding the sources, making it impossible to find them.
c. “The Too-Perfect Paraphrase”
ii. The writer properly cites a source but neglects to put in quotation marks text that has been copied word-for-word, or close to it. Although attributing the basic ideas to the source, the writer is falsely claiming original presentation and interpretation of the information.
d. “The Resourceful Citer”
i. The writer properly cites all sources, paraphrasing and using quotations appropriately. However, the paper contains almost no original work! It is sometimes difficult to spot this form of plagiarism because it looks like any other well-researched document.
e. “The Perfect Crime”
i. Well, we all know it doesn’t exist. In this case, the writer properly quotes and cites sources in some places, but goes on to paraphrase other arguments from those sources without citation. This way, the writer tries to pass off the paraphrased material as his or her own analysis of the cited Works Cited
(The Works Cited Page includes only sources that are actually cited in the paper. Notice that the sources are listed in alphabetical order and that only the first line of each entry extends all the way to the left margin.)
Brooks, Michael E. “Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Standard ant Title VII.” FBI Law Enforcement
Bulletin. May 2001: 26-33.
Champion, Chris. “Male Honkies Need Not Apply.” Western Report
7 Aug. 1996: 24-26. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. City U of New York lib. 27 Oct. 2002
Horne, Peter. Women in Law Enforcement. Springfield IL: Thomas Press, 1980.
Mignone, Douglass. Telephone Interview. 19 Oct. 2002.
Poe, Edgar Allan. “Annabel Lee.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. 678-679.
[THIS IS HOW YOU WOULD CITE ONE OF YOUR PRIMAY SOURCES TAKEN FROM YOUR TEXTBOOK.]
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