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Final Paper

Page history last edited by Abigail Heiniger 6 years ago

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  1. Due: 30 November 2015
  2. Points: 300 (30% of total grade) 
  3. Length: 8-12 pages. MLA format. 
  4. Purpose: Use outside research to expand upon a close reading of an American text from before 1865 that we did not for this course.
  5. Paper must include a close reading of a primary text, an artifact and three secondary scholarly sources to create an argument. 
    1. AmLit Final Paper Rubric rev.docx
    2. AmLit Final Paper Rubric rev.pdf  
  7. Post final papers on your personal roster page AND on TURNITIN 
    1. Turnitin ID and password:
      1. 10517267 / ENG2033 



Scaffolded Steps  (NOT MANDATORY - just thoughts to get the process going). For this course, the primary scaffolding is the development of the close reading paper through research and revision. 

  1. The Nineteenth Century in Print and Making of America Project: finding an artifact from before 1865

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

    2. Find and identify three possible primary texts for your final paper (American literature written before 1865 that is not being studied in class) 

  2.  American Encounters: Redefining America 

    1. Think about the course theme of American encounters. In 3-5 paragraphs, define this theme (or some other theme from the course). What are the criteria for an encounter? When and where do American encounters occur?  

  3.  Doing a Close Reading 

    1. Select one passage from the text and do a close reading (3-5 paragraphs). The close reading should tie into the theme for the paper. 

  4.  Making Connections: texts and artifacts 

    1. Think about the course theme of American encounters. In 3-5 paragraphs, discuss how you see this theme (or some other theme from the course) developing in both your artifact and one of your primary texts 

  5.  Secondary Sources 

    1.  Create a list of possible sources (5 secondary, scholarly texts).

      1.  See "Primary vs Secondary Sources" if you have questions about what constitutes secondary texts.  

  6.  Thesis and Outline 

  7.  Revising a Paper 

  8.  Reflection Letter and Participation 



For the final research paper, you will choose a theme from the course to explore on your own both through secondary research and in a primary text and artifact (see the example above) - this paper should (ideally) be an EXPANSION AND REVISION of your close reading paper. The final paper should make an argument (have a clear thesis). 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 American literature and culture. 


The research paper should follow standard MLA guidelines. 


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

Final Paper Resources:

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




This is a POSSIBLE outline for the final paper - it is NOT mandatory. 



  • Introduce topic  
    • Thesis statement: WHAT YOU ARE ARGUING.
      • EXAMPLE: Hawthorne uses allegory in.... to effect the reader in these ways: XYZ.  


Body Paragraphs 



  • Topic sentence (ties to thesis and unites paragraph). 
  • Evidence for argument (TEXT OR ARTIFACT)
  • Analysis (CLOSE READING)
  • Support  (from research).


POINT X (heading ties directly to thesis) All paragraphs related to this point are organized below heading.


  • Topic sentence (ties to thesis and unites paragraph). 
  • Evidence for argument (TEXT OR ARTIFACT)
  • Analysis (CLOSE READING)
  • Support  (from research).


  • Topic sentence (ties to thesis and unites paragraph). 
  • Evidence for argument (TEXT OR ARTIFACT)
  • Analysis (CLOSE READING)
  • Support  (from research).




  • Topic sentence (ties to thesis and unites paragraph). 
  • Evidence for argument (TEXT OR ARTIFACT)
  • Analysis (CLOSE READING)
  • Support  (from research).


  • Topic sentence (ties to thesis and unites paragraph). 
  • Evidence for argument (TEXT OR ARTIFACT)
  • Analysis (CLOSE READING)
  • Support  (from research).


You get the idea ...



  • Wrap it up (maybe look ahead - how could this be applied...). 





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



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