Documented Essay – 6-7 pages
Come up with your own argument about the play’s theme, whether about the American dream or any of the other theme we have explored. Some options might be focusing in on particular symbols/images or focusing in on one character and show what theme they represent and how/why. Another might be taking a critical lens and applying it to the text to illustrate a theme and its importance.
Criteria: The paper must be 6-7 pages. In addition to the primary source (the play), you must also have at least 3 secondary sources, two of which must be scholarly articles from the databases (JSTOR, Lexis Nexis, ProQuest, Academic Search Premier). Additionally, you can include other outside sources to the two library sources, relevant internet sources (if it is pertinent to your topic), or the secondary sources we reviewed in class.
It is important to vary the types of sources and/or writers to show a range of knowledge and information. It is often helpful to show the other side of an issue, citing source(s) that disagrees with your position to demonstrate that you are unbiased and fully informed. Such sources can also help in establishing your argument in the first place. You should not limit yourself to literary sources on the primary text. Look for other research that can inform your own interpretation of the text instead of relying on someone else’s. For instance, you might look up historical elements of the setting, reviewing a history article that does not even mention the play. Or you might look up job rates today or then in certain areas to prove claims about the existence of the dream.
Formatting: Final drafts must be stapled. Margins must be one inch. The paper must be typed in Times New Roman 12pt font and pages must be numbered (page numbers go in the top right corner along with your last name.) The paper must have your name, my name, the course title, and the due date on the top left corner of the first page. After that information, you must have a centered title that is also in Times New Roman 12pt font. Do not use extra spaces between course information and the title. Do not use clip art, a different font, setting, or size for your title. (This means there is no cover page). Do not provide extra spaces between body paragraphs. All quotations must be properly introduced and cited in MLA format. You must provide a Work Cited page, using MLA format. All of these formatting requirements follow the MLA guidelines. These requirements can be found in your Writers Reference and on the syllabus.
What is a Documented Essay?
Documents essays synthesize the voices and information of primary and secondary sources with the author’s. They inform readers of an argument by providing information that supports the author’s overall interpretation. Moreover, the purpose of a documented essay is not only to inform readers, but the writer as well. Writers research subjects they want to learn more about. Make sure you choose a topic that is interesting to you, since you will be spending a great deal of time working on this paper. There is nothing worse than a boring documented essay, for both the teacher and the student!
Documented essays structurally follow the guidelines of analytical papers (in terms of formal language, central claims, paragraph structure, textual evidence, etc.), except it will also involve outside research and thus they are typically longer. Sources must be relevant to the argument of the paper and must be credible, meaning peer-reviewed, scholarly sources. Writers cannot merely summarize works or sources, but rather they must analyze and interpret them thoroughly and cogently. Like essay 2, your paper will have central claims (thesis/topic sentences) about the play. You only use secondary sources to support your own ideas on the play to establish credibility and prove your claims with specific evidence. Ideally, strive for one quote from the play and one quote from secondary sources per body. Note: Avoid 5 paragraph essay!
All sources must be introduced throughout the paper to establish credibility of the author and the sources themselves. However, writers do not need to introduce all sources in the introduction, as that could be too much information all at once. Instead, as writers present each new source, they must explain to their readers where or who the information comes from. If a paper states, “Ms. Smith says…” to introduce a source, one would want to know who Ms. Smith is. Is she a scholar, a prominent person in her field, a random blogger, or a student in the back of the class? If Ms. Smith is an award-winning doctor, her words will be more believable for readers. Yet, if Ms. Smith is a prominent heart surgeon and the paper topic is on libraries, her words would not be as effective as a woman with a Masters degree in library science.