Formal Paper Assignment Descriptions

Final Research Paper Description
Write a 5-8 page literary analysis of In Dubious Battle, incorporating research from a minimum of three sources to enhance your ideas (the book itself can be one of your sources) and, for the purposes of this assignment, the Introduction can be considered a second source, but you will also need to incorporate one more academic source. Your research might focus on what literary critics have said about this author’s work, biographical or autobiographical material that might help readers better understand the text and/or contemporary articles and information about issues that relate to any aspect of the book, such as the current issues facing the agricultural labor rights movement. 

Rick Wartzman’s Obscene in the Extreme is a great source of information for this paper as it provides a vast amount of historical reference material from this period in history as well as information on Steinbeck himself and the process that went into writing this novel. There are four copies on reserve in the Cesar Chavez Library (second floor) and two additional copies are available for you in the Reading and Writing Center (first floor).  

Your paper Must identify which one of the critical theories that you are applying in your paper (see Critical Theories overview). You may identify your theoretical stance in either the introductory paragraph or in a subheading under your title.

Here is an example of a title with a subhead:

                                          The Wrath of Steinbeck
A Sociological Perspective on the Burning and Banning of the Grapes of Wrath

The focus of your essay must be an interpretation of the literature itself, using the research as enhancement but not as the main emphasis of your essay. For example, if your research focuses on biographical information, use it to help interpret a theme, character, or other aspect of the text. 

A strong essay will have a clear controlling idea supported by well-developed TEA paragraphs that work to logically analyze the text and provide smooth transitions between ideas. You should incorporate (either through paraphrase or quotations) plenty of examples from the novel as well as refer specifically to your research sources. Use MLA format for parenthetical citations and your works cited page. Please note: proper attribution (signal phrases),  in-text citations and a Works Cited page are a major focus of this class and this assignment. Proper attribution and use of citations are fundamental to any academic research project and it is your responsibility to use the references available to you to make sure that this aspect of your paper is done correctly. Please do not rush through this aspect of the research paper.
  1. Participation in Rough Draft Peer Review is Mandatory. See course schedule for dates. You will receive 15 points for peer-review and 15 points for bringing your rough draft to PEER REVIEW DAY. No late papers will be reviewed. Come to class and bring a hard copy or your Research Paper or your grade will be affected.
  2. All drafts will be read during class, but you also have the option of meeting with the instructor on to go over your Draft. There will be a sign up sheet distributed in class. You must have a beginning, middle and end completed before this meeting.
By now you know that sentence-level errors need to be kept to a minimum on the final draft. See me and/or a writing tutor at the Reading and Writing Center during revision if you know you need extra help.

                                    In Dubious Battle Class Discussion Questions

    Writing Process suggestions:
    1.     Review your lectures notes and information posted on Instructor Knapp’s blog. In particular, review the Key Terms post, Critical Theories Overview, Combining Sentences, Constructing an Argument, Popular Student Errors, Using Quotations, and the Steinbeck information
    2.     Look back at your own blog posts to get ideas about a possible theme to explore or an approach to this essay. You should also read some of your peers blogs to expand your ideas on the text.
    3.     Brainstorm ideas for research and writing by doing a cluster, list, or freewrite.
    4.     Begin your research process by formulating questions about your chosen text. Your research may be more fertile if you direct the search by questioning aspects of the text that you are interested in learning more about.
    5.     Discuss your questions, ideas, and responses with a classmate, instructor or another person. (We will be completing peer interviews in class).
    6.     In your first draft, draw plenty of examples from the text. Include references to your research. Don’t be afraid to argue with the literary critics you’ve read. Let this draft be your chance to enter the literary conversation and don’t “censor” your ideas—it’s better to overwrite on your draft to allow for insights that you gain during the process of writing to emerge. Later you can edit, select, or throw out what doesn’t fit.
    7.     When revising, return to your introduction to ensure that you have a clear, strong (narrow) thesis. Remember to name the author and text in your introduction. The title of your essay should reflect the theme of the essay (do not use the title of the book as the title of your essay). The body of your essay should include plenty of support for your ideas, including examples and quotes from the book. Use specific references to your research to enhance your interpretation of the text. Generally, the most effective way to use quotes is to use them to support a point you’re making; then follow up the quote with interpretation (Remember the TEA paragraph and the Quote Sandwich). Review MLA format for citations if you need to.
    8.     Share your rough draft with your peer response group. Ask for specific feedback on the parts of the essay you’re unsure about. You may also contact me for help or submit your rough drafts to the campus Writing Center for help.
    9.     Make sure you proofread your completed draft mimimum of three times before turning in the essay.
    10.  Turn in your essay via Turnitin.com.

    Paper Topics (These are suggestions only):

    What would a Feminist have to say about the gender in this novel? Re-read sections that include Lisa and think about how Steinbeck’s characterization of male and female in the novel and discuss the implications of gender. How is Patriarchy impacting women and the economic system depicted in the novel?

    How would a New Historicist analyze In Dubious Battle? How does our contemporary view of The Great Depression, labor movements and strikes impact our understanding of this novel? How did Steinbeck’s 20th century values contribute to the characterizations in the novel? How was the novel received (by the public) in the 20th century? What were the reviewers’ reactions? What does this say about the audience at the time of publication? How does the current labor movement and "Occupy" movement compare and/or contrast to the social struggles of the 1930s?

    A Sociological and/or Marxist theorist would have much to say about the organized strike movement depicted in this novel. How is the economic system of agriculture maintaining power over the workers? What was the cause of the strike? Why was this problem so difficult to solve? What was the role of the townspeople and how did they contribute to either the strikers or the growers?  How do Mac and Jim stand apart from the rest of the characters in the novel? How does this story give us insight into current social and economic systems?

    A Formalist would be very interested in analyzing the language in this novel. Review the list of key terms used in the novel (on the Steinbeck page). How many times is the word “Red” used? Why is it used? What is the effect on the reader? How does the structure of the novel contribute to the novel’s tension and ambiguity? What symbols are used in this novel and how do they affect the meaning? If this strike was modeled on his research at the Pixley Cotton strike, then why did Steinbeck decide on using apple orchards as the setting instead of cotton? How is ambiguity employed to focus the novel on Jim's internal struggles? Can you identify the paradox facing these workers?

    A Reader Response critic would be very interested in how the themes in the novel impact his/her own ideas about the struggle between workers and business owners today. Are labor unions necessary? What is the basis of a “good” business philosophy? What character do you admire most and why? Which character (s) do you dislike and why? Can you relate to the traits or experiences of these characters?

    A Biographical critic would be very interested in how Steinbeck’s life shaped this novel. What characteristics of Steinbeck’s life informed the characters and events in the novel? What aspects of Steinbeck’s personality are revealed and how does the 20th Century historical situation influence how the author portrays the characters and events in this novel?

    Formal Paper Assignment 1:
    Directions: In our first two novels we will be discussing the connections between culture and identity. Please write a 3-8-page critical analysis of character in Persepolis. Specifically, you will be examining Marjane's identity as a rebel in this text. I encourage you to focus your paper by incorporating either a Reader Response, Marxist, Feminist or Formalist perspective in your analysis. A paper of this length will need to zero in on one-two key scenes and points rather than tackling an analysis of the whole novel.

    Here are a few examples of ways to incorporate a critical theory into your analysis:

    Reader Response: Marjane is a rebel and in the end her parents decide that Iran is no longer a safe place for her. Be sure to examine the specific reasons why her parents opted to send her away and weigh the cause and effect of these situations. What exactly was Marjane rebelling against? School? Religion? Government? Her parents? How can you relate to this rebellious nature? What do you rebel against and why? Make sure you connect your personal experience directly to the text. Compare and contrast may help you organize your ideas.

    Formalist: A Formalist is interested in "just the text." Nothing outside the text matters. No history. No personal opinion. No author intention. Just the text. They are also interested in identifying tension, ambiguity, irony and paradox. If a paradox is a statement that on the surface seems implausible, but underneath makes sense: what paradox would a formalist point out in this novel? You might want to discuss Marjane's declaration that she is religious and then, later, how she justifies fighting against religious law. You might also want to think about how her parent's religious views are left out. Why did the author decide on ambiguity when religion is a central theme? How about the paradox of the revolution itself? If the people were fighting against tyranny and for freedom, why did they allow a theocracy to take over? Remember, a formalist pays very close attention to evidence in the text. Notice how it isn't until after the war with Iraq begins (80) that the author begins including the veiled women in all of the drawings. What connections can you make from this evidence about the chaos and fear associated with war and the people's acceptance of mandatory veiling? Cause and effect may help you organize your ideas.

    Feminist: A feminist is interested in identifying patriarchy and pointing out power structures that undermine gender equality. What would a feminist have to say about the impact that the Islamic Revolution had on gender roles in Iran? How do the new laws position men and women in this society. You may chose to tackle the bigger issues (the veil) and the attack on Marjane's mother or the subtle issues. For example, Marjane's mother considers leaving (64), but her father's response shows that his decision carries the weight. Imagine how Marjane's life be different if she lived in a matriarchy.

    Essay Form
    Although this essay topic allows you to pick your own focus and write about what interests you, the standard form of an academic essay doesn't allow the freedom to write randomly about the topic. Your introduction should make the clear the purpose or point your paper is making by including a strong controlling idea (thesis). Each body (TEA) paragraphs should work to support this controlling idea from beginning to end. Along the way, the reader should be presented with ample textual evidence and analysis, balanced by your own critical voice, so that they are persuaded by your ideas and have a clear understanding of the point you are making. The conclusion should sum up these ideas in a meaningful way and leave the reader with something to more to consider on this topic. You are required to use MLA in-text citations and include a Works Cited page.

    •Focus your essay with a strong central idea (thesis/claim), 
    and use examples from the text to support your analysis. 
    •Use quotes or paraphrase 
    from the text or other sources where appropriate.
    •Use MLA format for your works cited page. 
    •To receive full credit, your essay must be a minimum of three-eight full pages (not including the works cited page).

    Picking a Theoretical Focus: Here are a few more examples of questions categorized by theory. Which theory feels most comfortable to you? Which theory is the best fit for your argument?

    For example, a Reader Response theorist might ask: How does my memory of growing up compare/contrast to the protagonist's experience? What influences does the protagonist have in his/her life and how are they different than the influences in mine? What political, economic and religious forces shape the identity of the main character and how have I been shaped by similar forces?

    A Formalist might ask: How does the language used in the novel contribute to the meaning of the novel? What effect do the narrative gaps have on our interpretation? How does the description of the setting shape our understanding of the characters and the world they occupy? What irony can I identify in the novel? How does ambiguity shape the interpretation of the novel? How is tension used to shape our understanding of certain characters? How does the first person narration influence our interpretation of the events in the novel? How does the description contribute to the interpretation of the novel's meaning?

    A critical analysis from the Feminist viewpoint would inspire a different set of questions.  How do ethnicity and class shape the women in the novel? Remember, a feminist pays close attention to the particular situation being considered rather than applying one 'standard' definition of feminism. How does patriarchy influence the male female relationships in the novel? A feminist would pay close attention to the description of both the male and female characters and try to determine the underlying power associated with  these descriptions.

    The Sociological perspective would focus on how the setting and the social constructs economically impact the individuals. According to Bedford's "Sociological approaches emphasize the nature and effect of the social forces that shape power relationships between groups or classes of people. Such readings treat literature as either a document reflecting social conditions or a product of those conditions. The former view brings into focus the social milieu; the latter emphasizes the work."

    Purpose: Every writer must determine his/her purpose for writing. Typically, this decision occurs during the planning and pre-writing stage. This paper asks you to analyze the forces shaping the "identity" of the characters in one or both of the novels (you could also draw conclusions linking both novels).

    Before writing your first draft, you should come to some conclusions about the theme of identity (brainstorm) and think about how these conclusions are linked directly to the text (collect/annotate evidence) during your pre-writing and planning stage. After making these initial connections (usually by reviewing your annotations and reviewing the text), most academic writers then begin the process of writing a working thesis. One could simply write, "The purpose of this paper is to argue that..." or "The purpose of this paper is to analyze the connection between..."

    Planning: The next step is to make a plan for writing. What do you plan to discuss first? How will you support this? What will come next? You may want to sketch out a brief outline, or freewrite how you will organize your paper.

    Revision: After the work of writing the working thesis, then comes the task of writing TEA paragraphs and assembling evidence and analysis in support of each topic. Always keep in mind when your argument shifts (or your purpose) and go back to your working thesis and revise it to better reflect these changes. Try to connect your ideas with transitional language and don't be afraid to re-order your TEAs. Always read through your draft making sure that you are thoroughly explaining your ideas and that one idea logically leads to the next.

    A Step-by Step Writing Process:
    1) Brainstorm: Try composing a cluster or freewrite on a response to the story. Don’t censor. Let your ideas and reactions flow.
    2) Review: After reviewing your cluster/freewrite, reread sections of the text pertinent to the topic you are interested in. Reflect on your journal entries and especially your Passage Entries where you located quotations from the text and remarked on the significance of these passages. Reread others’ comments on the story.
    3) Question: Compose three or more questions about the text that help you think critically and address the story’s complexities.
    4) Identify major themes that interest you and think about how you can connect your ideas to these themes.
    5) Make Connections: Connect this story to something you already know (another story, a text of any kind, a picture, an idea, a movie, a personal experience) and briefly reflect in writing on this connection (or reread an entry where you have already done so). What new understanding have you gained in reading this text?
    6) Personal integration and application: How do the values represented in this reading confirm or conflict with your own values? In what ways can the ideas and values in this text be applied to situations that you face?
    7) Formulate a controlling idea for your paper by writing a (hypo)thesis. This is the most critical part of your essay as it gives the whole paper focus, clarity, and unity. "Thesis" means main idea, an argument stated in sentence form. It should be narrow enough for you to prove it within the scope of the essay. See OWL for more about how to formulate a thesis in literature papers.
    9) Discuss: Share your questions, reactions, and ideas with a peer partner—if you need more feedback as you progress in the writing process connect outside of class with a friend, family member, teacher, or tutor in the campus Writing Center. Expressing your ideas through discussion will help you see the story from new angles and clarify your own response.
    10) Write a draft of your paper using as many textual connections as you can to formulate a complete draft.
    1) Revise: Reread your paper and revise your thesis, making sure that you have stated your ideas clearly and organized your support to connect directly to your thesis.
    2) Revise: Look over the sentences for clarity, flow/organization and transitions.
    3) Revise: After at least a day (preferably three days) reread your introduction and conclusion, and make sure your integration of quotes and examples is smooth and that you are using strong directing verbs and signal phrases. Post your rough draft to our class for comments.
    4) Review: Feedback and decide where you agree and disagree and why. Write a journal entry on this reflection. Remember, you are in charge of your writing project. Your peers are only providing you with their experience as readers of your text. While this insight is valuable, remind yourself that every reader brings their own schemata to the reading process, which greatly affects their interpretation. Make sure you pay close attention to places where your reader was confused, however, as your main goal is to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively.
    5) Rewrite as needed.
    2) Edit: Check your paper and correct any spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. Check the works cited page for proper MLA format. Ensure that your paper conforms to the required format (eg. name, date, margins & page numbers). See a good handbook or the Online Writing Lab (OWL) for additional information on drafting, revising, proofreading, and citing sources using MLA format.

    A brief overview of MLA Format Guidelines
    For: A Work in an Anthology, Reference, or Collection
    (such as a story, essay, or poem published in an anthology)
    The basic format for this sort of citation is as follows:
    Last name, First name. "Title of Essay or Story." Title of Collection. Ed. Editor's Name(s). Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page range of entry. Medium of Publication.
    Some examples:
    Harris, Muriel. "Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers." A Tutor's Guide: Helping Writers One to One. Ed. Ben Rafoth. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. 24-34. Print.
    Swanson, Gunnar. "Graphic Design Education as a Liberal Art: Design and Knowledge in the University and The 'Real World.'" The Education of a Graphic Designer. Ed. Steven Heller. New York: Allworth Press, 1998. 13-24. Print.
    Review the Purdue Online Writing Lab, “MLA Works Cited Page: Books”
    Check out the Online Writing Lab (OWL) for more tips on writing about fiction.
    READ: Anne Lamott's Shitty First Drafts to better acquaint yourself with the process of writing

    No comments:

    Post a Comment