In this course, we have addressed gender power dynamics, teen suicide clusters, climate change, questions of culture, ethnicity, and race, political oppression, women’s writing and creative and intellectual expression in language, developing a woman’s creative and literary history, movements for political reform, the effects of colonialism/imperialism, and, human rights, especially as questions of humanity have evolved of the WWII Holocaust. I encourage you to further develop your ideas around a particular theme as discussed in our class and to access news and research of these issues in the contemporary global scene. You may also find rich themes in combining two of your papers, or in pairing writers together in a compare and contrast fashion. Some students like to focus on the biographical connections of a writer’s life to his/her work.
MLA Style: All papers must have—
- a heading with name, instructor, class, date;
- a (centered) creative title that reflects paper theme;
- page numbers (pagination) with last name in a header;
- eight to ten full pages or 2500 to 3000-word minimum to qualify for a passing grade;
- typed, double-spaced, black font, Times or Times New Roman (12 point);
- quote or paraphrase from at least four to six varied sources in your paper;
- in-text page citations for each quotation (exact or paraphrased) in parenthesis after each & every quote;
- MLA-formatted Works Cited of sources
What is this final paper about?
Your final paper is an analysis or critique of rhetoric, metaphor, or a theme or issue that arises from one or more readings. You may focus on just one text, or you may put two or three texts in conversation with each other to inform your analysis of a particular subject matter. I ask that you extend and revise one or more of your three shorter (rhetoric, metaphoric, literary analysis) papers. I expect students to develop further a theme, or related combination of themes, about which you have written in the shorter assignments such as the rhetorical analysis (Rosin or Pollan), the metaphoric analysis paper on the major writer’s essays, and/or the Survival in Auschwitz paper based on a critical literary analysis of Primo Levi’s memoir. If you take one of these papers, or combine papers on similar topics, and extend it, you have only to add, revise, and intertwine a few pages to be well on your way to a fully-developed final critical paper.
More topic ideas:
- Challenging holes/weak areas in Hanna Rosin’s argument in “The End of Men” around her lack of acknowledge of women’s issues globally. Women’s issues on a global level or with focus on a particular country or region; women’s interdependence and development; women writers claiming a history, language(s), self, identity; women’s history; women and economics/education; or, build on Rosin’s argument and continue a claim that women in postindustrial societies are making enormous gains: personal, political, economic, social. Please ask me for source references, if you’d like ideas.
- Movements of resistance and rebellion; power relations; issues of education and expression within societies and cultures; linkages between Thoreau, Gandhi, and/or Martin Luther King; Thoreau’s influence on environmental writers like Michael Pollan; going further with global climate change and/or environmental degradation; pairing and comparing two writers—such as Michael Pollan and Bill McKibben—and examining their approach to similar topics. Where are we ten years after Pollan’s “Why Bother?” Is his suggestion of a personal garden still viable and valuable?
- An in‐depth examination of any of the writers, and/or the themes of their writing we’ve read this semester: Hanna Rosin; Michael Pollan; Virginia Woolf; Alice Walker; Gloria Anzaldúa, James Baldwin; George Orwell; or, Primo Levi. Examine one or two of their writings in addition to what you’ve read. There are many sources in our Canvas classroom that will supplement your writing. Look at their life conditions and circumstances, and examine each writer’s relationship between life and work.
- Theme(s) that you have developed in earlier assignments and/or papers and would like to further examine (gender issues; environment; biopolitics; writer/issue paper).
The final critical paper will include a Works Cited listing of the sources you utilize as evidence (by quoting and citing) in your paper. Sources include print and electronic articles and books, class lectures, personal interviews, films, other DVD/videos, podcasts, blogs, etc. Make sure to check the credibility of your sources.
MLA Citation at OWL Purdue
Student questions about composing final paper.
1) Why do I have to add to an already written paper?
Over years of teaching I have found that students write better papers when they learn to revise, augment, deepen and expand their thinking. The research paper comes late in the term, during intense study and exam times, and I don’t want to students to begin whole new research projects and papers at that time. I want students to recognize that very little of the writing process is the first or early drafts of a paper. Most of the writing process happens in revision, rethinking, extended research, and complication of ideas in confrontation with new information and perceptions. I want the final paper, ideally, to be a transformative experience in terms of intellectual development for students. This is where I really want you to “get” the hard, good, rich, rewarding labor of intellectual work and understanding that emerges, if we are lucky, of writing.
2) Can I just add a bit to my paper to get it to 8‐10 pages, and have it be basically the same former paper?
I’m expecting 4‐6 sources for your final paper. Look at the quality of your sources, and the quality of your thought in engagement with your sources. Avoid simply repeating what you read, but to interpret, evaluate, consider, and position yourself in relation to what you read. That goes beyond disagreement and/or agreement. Consider and infer the meaning of ideas and circumstances. You are proposing your own way of framing a topic and thinking about issues it raises. If needed, add to and potentially deepened your thesis, claim, or position. The research should reflect more than an initial understanding of the topic and your questions in relation to the topic at hand. This paper should be an original paper that you’ve not authored for any other class.
Too, this paper will contain a core of your earlier paper(s) you’ve written this semester for this course. I want you to move sections, to cut and paste, to edit mercilessly. I expect to see my recommended edits and revisions from any earlier papers I have graded and on which your final paper will be based.
Leave in all the valuable sections and eliminate repetitive sections, delete fluff, edit out statement of facts that don’t give the reader information she doesn’t already know. You have to let your mind shine through without clouding the thoughts, ideas, and responses with your own stories and preferences. It’s tricky. But, that’s what you’ve been learning and refining this term.
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