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Do not rely solely on general web searches to find other sources.

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Your final project for this class is to choose a literary work from The Norton Anthology of English Literature and write a Research Essay exploring some aspect of that literary work.
Consider the following approaches, some of which may overlap:
*The relationship between that literary work and the writer’s biography, cultural, and/or historical context. (In theoretical terms, a study of this type would fall into the category of Historicism, either Old Historicism or New Historicism.)
*A study of the the way(s) a writer works within a genre (poetry, fiction, drama), using and possibly innovating the genre to suit his or her own literary purposes. (In other words, how does the literary work conform to the conventions of the genre and/or defy the expectations of that genre.) *An analysis of the literary work with the goal of explaining how it achieves some meaning or effect through elements such as setting, characterization, symbolism, etc.
*A critical analysis of the literary work through the ideological lens of an established theoretical movement, such as Marxism, critical race theory, gender theory, queer theory, Darwinian literary studies, etc.
In preparation for this research assignment, you should have already completed a Literature Review Paper reporting on the literary work, the writer, potential critical/secondary sources for the essay, and the scholarly dialogue that has taken place about the literary work. Hopefully, this has helped you find something you would like to say about the literary work.
Although you should focus on the same writer in your Research Essay that you focused on in your Literature Review Paper, you are not required to focus on the same literary work or use the same sources you included in your Literature Review Paper.
For your Research Essay, you may shift the focus to another literary work or literary works by the same author and use sources that may be better suited for your topic.
For example, let’s say you are a student in ENG 242 and in your Literature Review Paper you research John Keats’ poem Lamia. However, if in the course of your research, you become more interested in Keats’ poem The Eve of St. Agnes, it is perfectly acceptable to write about The Eve of St. Agnes in your Research Essay.
If you want to write about a literary work by a totally different author, however, you must contact the instructor and explain why you would like to switch. The Research Essay should be 1200-1500 words (about four to five pages) in MLA Style ( Save your essay as a docx (MS Word) or a pdf file before submitting it through Moodle by the assignment deadline.
Click here to see a sample Research Essay written by an ENG 242 student:
The source requirements for the Research Essay are the same as for the Literature Review Paper.
Students must have at least six sources for their essays, one of which must be the literary work they have researched. All of the sources must appear in the Works Cited list. These sources may include books and periodical articles about the author and/or the writer’s culture and historical time period; literary criticism; and videos. All sources listed in the Works Cited must be cited correctly in the essay! Failing to cite sources is plagiarism.
You may use your NAEL textbook as a source. Just be sure to cite it and document it correctly.
Do not rely solely on general web searches to find other sources. These often include websites that individuals and merchants maintain rather than reputable libraries and nonprofit groups.
Instead, check out the databases that are available to you through the RCC library. These databases collect authoritative sources and feature tools to help you with documentation. They can greatly extend your research and give it more depth!
You can find these databases at
Just use the “A-Z Database List” to navigate and find databases. Some of the databases I recommend are:
Literature Resource Center
ProQuest Learning: Literature
Arts and Humanities Database
Salem/Critical Insights
Credo Reference
Biography In Context
Biography Reference Center
Films on Demand Also, you may need to search for ebooks. These can be found at I recommend ebrary Academic and Public Library Complete and eBooks on EBSCO Host.
If you are doing your research on a non-RCC computer, you will need to enter your student login information to access these databases. It is the same information that you use to log into Moodle.
Typically, the sources in these databases have already appeared in print. Students should limit their use of general Websites. These often include Websites that individuals and merchants maintain rather than reputable libraries and nonprofit groups. Students may not use Wikipedia and other such encyclopedias as sources. Study aids such as Cliff’s Notes, Bookrags, Shmoop, SparkNotes, enotes,, GradeSaver, GradesFixer, CourseHero, 123helpme, LitCharts, ThoughtCo., Owlcation, and similar “cheating” sites are also off limits as sources. These general references are helpful in acquainting ourselves with unfamiliar topics and perhaps find research prompts, but they are not intended to be authoritative sources. Also, please be aware that you should not use anything written by another student as a source unless it is a thesis or a dissertation.
Additional Guidelines
In evaluating these papers, the instructor will consider the following elements:
An original and thoughtful title reflective of the paper’s main idea.
Clear and error-free sentence structure, with no fused sentences or mixed constructions.
Sound grammar and mechanics, including correct use of capitalization, apostrophes, punctuation, and quotations.
A compelling introduction that captivates readers and gives the essay a strong sense of purpose.
An original, clear, and meaningful thesis statement that aids your readers’ understanding. The thesis must be an arguable statement that makes a claim about the literary work. This is an essay, not a report.
A firm grasp of the subject demonstrated through a vigorous and comprehensive exploration.
Little, if any, summary of the literary work. Summary should be used only sparingly to set up a discussion.
A formal tone that establishes the writer’s seriousness, maturity, and credibility. A formal tone that establishes the writer’s seriousness, maturity, and credibility. Colloquialisms and first-person (I, me, my, mine, myself) and second-person pronouns (you, your, yourself) will not be allowed in this essay, unless they appear in quoted material.
Well-organized body paragraphs.
Well-formed body paragraphs with indentations, topic sentences and clear transitions.
Transitions within and between paragraphs that give the essay “flow.”
A conclusion that gives the essay a sense of closure and completion.
Complete and correct source documentation using MLA Style or APA Style, with in-text parenthetical citations and a bibliography. In-text citation must be used in addition to attribution.
Please contact the instructor if you have any questions.

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