Helpful hints for Writing a Research Paper:
See page discussing MLA Format (i.e. using proper header, etc. )
See page listing more general hints for a Critical Response
- Again, remember that this is a Critical response paper,
NOT a Personal response paper.
It is also an ARGUMENT Paper, not a REPORT Paper. Do not
provide a history of the French Revolution or a biography of
William Wordsworth. You may, however, analyze specific
works by Wordsworth and explain the ways in which they
demonstrate characteristics associated with period.
- Please!! Avoid making comparisons
to Present Day Society !!! Such comparisons almost never
have a basis in actual textual analysis !!
- Avoid plot summary! Use quotes from only those
sections of the text immediately relevant to your discussion!
- Use past tense to discuss historical or biographical
events, but present tense when discussing literature.
Other Mechanical Issues:
- Be very careful when making references to the class
textbook. For example, William Wordsworth is the author
of The Prelude. Susan Wolfson and Peter Manning
are the editors of the text in which The Prelude
- Sample Entry:
- Spenser, Edmund. The Faeire Queene.
The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major
Authors. 10th Ed. edited by Stephen
Greenblatt, et al., vol. 1, W.W. Norton, 2019, pp. 415-87.
- (Note: only the first line is flush with the margin;
subsequent lines are tabbed over. It's called reverse
indent, if you want to look it up.)
- Do Not Number the Entries in a Works Cited.
- When citing verse, use slashes to show line breaks and
cite by line (or act.scene.line for plays).
- Avoid plagiarism !! See Policy
- On a related note, please be very selective about the
sources you utilize from the internet. The ideal sources are
those found on jstor.org or the Literature Resource Center or
MLA Bibliography--essays that have been previously published
in journals or books and are now available online.
- AVOID the Following Sites!! These are NOT ACCEPTABLE
sources (and this is not a complete list, but you should get
the idea) !!!
- DO NOT USE A COVER PAGE !!!!
- Use only ONE edition of your primary source. If you
wish to refer to an editor's introduction to another edition,
cite by the editor's name.
- Be sure to use quotation marks for titles of shorter
works, such as poems and short stories, and italics for
titles of longer works, such as plays, epic poems and
- Do not rely too heavily on secondary sources. The
number of citations to your primary source should be roughly
equivalent to the total number of references to ALL your
secondary sources combined.
- Do NOT use secondary source material to summarize plot or
quote from the primary source.
- Make sure it is clear WHOSE ideas you are presenting. If
Critic A is quoting Critic B, and you use the quote, your
citation should say (Qtd. in Critic A #). The #, of course,
refers to the page number in Critic A's text.
- Avoid unnecessary changes to quotes. Instead of
saying, "Wollstonecraft describes, '[She] felt hopeless'
(24)," say, "Wollstonecraft describes that she 'felt hopeless'
- Avoid using direct quotes in either your introduction or
conclusion. Discussion in these two paragraphs should be
Do not use quotes as the subjects of sentences: The quote
"---------" (29) shows that. . . or
"-----------" (87) means that . . .
- Don't use "in which" when you mean "that."
- Don't use "that" when you mean "who" (i.e. when referring
- USE PRESENT TENSE TO DISCUSS LITERATURE !!!!!
Possible Research Paper
Topics (More to Come):
- Contrasting Portrayals of Similar Subjects in Blake's Songs
of Innocence and Experience
- Biblical Imagery in "The Rime of Ancient Mariner"
- Characteristics of the Lyrical Ballads (as per
Preface) in Coleridge's Ancient Mariner or
Wordsworth's poems from the collection
- Representations of the Gothic in Coleridge
- Justice: Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner", Stevenson, Conrad
- Isolated Figures: Ancient Mariner, Byronic Heroes,
Jekyll/Hyde, Marlowe/ Kurtz
- Relationship between Human and Nature: Blake,
Coleridge, Wordsworth, Conrad, Yeats, Thomas
- Theories of Poetry/Literature: Wordsworth, P. Shelley,
Arnold, Eliot, Orwell
- Use of Folklore/Mythology: P. Shelley, Keats, Tennyson,
- Position of Women: C. Rossetti, E. B. Browning, R. Browning
- Figure of the Victorian Englishman: Wilde, Stevenson, R.
- Figure of the Poet: Coleridge, Shelley, Keats
- Views of Childhood: Blake, Wordsworth, Thomas
- Abolitionist portrayal of Africans: E. B. Browning
- Race and Imperialism: Kipling, Conrad, Walcott
- Interpersonal Relationships/Alienation: Eliot, Lawrence,