Renaissance Research Paper Assignment Directions

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Paper Assignments

Paper #1: Hemingway

Due: Wednesday, 2/16.

Length: 5-6 pp. (typed, double-spaced).

Grading: 20% of final grade--based on substantive content; insight into your material; focus and organization; quality and appropriateness of your evidence; documentation (if needed); grammar.

Topic: Write a focused, organized paper on one of the following topics: 1) bull-fighting as the new religion of the "lost generation," or 2) Brett as the 1920s modern woman (flapper?), or 3) the role and function of Robert Cohn in the novel, or 4) the symbolic significance of the money motif running throughout the novel. Cite specific details and examples from the text to illustrate and support your points.

As you study the novel, develop a solid thesis about your topic--some conclusion you have arrived at--and make sure you cite lots of examples and details from the novel to support and illustrate your thesis and sub-points. And make sure you discuss and explain your evidence.

See also: Organization/Focus and MLA Documentation and Typing Directions

Paper #2: Jazz Culture Research Paper

Due: Monday, 3/28.

Length: 5-6 pp. (typed, double-spaced), plus at least 10 online secondary sources.

Grading: 20% of final grade--based on substantive content; insight into your material; focus and organization; quality and appropriateness of your evidence; documentation (if needed); grammar.

Topic: Using our online Jazz Age Lit/Culture web pages, research one of the following topic-clusters and write a focused, organized paper on it, citing specific details and examples from the online secondary sources to illustrate and support your points. All these topic-clusters are jazz- or Jazz Age-related, but you will need to develop your own unifying thesis based on the online sources you decide to use.

As you select your sources, look for ways you can work in music (jazz/blues/lyrics) and jazz poetry (Hughes and other jazz poets). Music and literature should make up roughly 1/2 of the paper, or maybe more. Also keep in mind that, whenever possible, we want information about blacks and whites, higher classes and lower classes, and women as well as men.

It would also be good if you could include 1-3 appropriate images (with artists and titles underneath) from your sources in your paper. If you don't know how to insert images in the body of the essay, attach them at the end of the paper and refer to them in the essay as "Attachment 1," "Attachment 2," etc. All images are in addition to the 5-6 pages of required text.

  • Topic-cluster 1: Jazz, jazz clubs, Prohibition, gangsters.

  • Topic-cluster 2: Jazz Age women in popular culture and real life (films, advertising, entertainers, pioneers, politics, etc.)

  • Topic-cluster 3: Jazz as music and social-political metaphor. (Rather general--see me about possible ways to narrow down this topic.)

  • Topic-cluster 4: Jazz, Harlem Renaissance, the color-line, racial violence (KKK, riots, etc.).

  • Topic-cluster 5: Jazz Age/Modernist music, art, and architecture. Include images of the art and architecture discussed in the paper.

  • Topic-cluster 6: Jazz Age migrations--to Harlem and to Paris (jazz; expatriates; etc.).

  • Topic-cluster 7: Hollywood versions of jazz and the Jazz Age (films and cartoons) vs. real people/events.

  • Topic-cluster 8: World War I disillusionment, the Lost Generation, and the Jazz Age. (Rather general--see me about possible ways to narrow down this topic.)

  • Topic-cluster 9: Jazz and Jazz Age technologies (phonographs and the recording industry, films, radio, cars, airplanes, telephones, electricity, etc.).

Here is an example of an online essay somewhat like your assignment, except that it does not specifically address jazz music or literary texts: sample essay (online). However, please avoid the long, set-off quotations used in this essay.

For directions on how to handle in-text citations and your Works Cited page, see MLA Documentation (online).

See also: Organization/Focus and Avoid Plagiarism and Typing Directions.


    Introductions in short papers should be short--maybe 3-4 sentences long. Begin with some general statement about your topic (if you are going to write about Hemingway's settings, try to get the words "Hemingway" and "setting" somewhere in or close to the opening sentence). Also include the full name of author and complete title of the text in the opening sentence (as in, "In Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises, bull-fighting is . . .") . Perhaps give a one-sentence summary of what the text is about, or provide some pertinent background, or explain why there have been problems with the topic or even disagreements about it, or maybe suggest why that topic is so important in the tradition of jazz literature. Most of the introduction will be your own writing, but it is all right to include short paraphrases/quotations, properly cited, of course.

    NOTE: End the introductory paragraph with your thesis statement. Remember, your thesis is what the rest of the paper will be about. Do not phrase it as a question, but rather as an assertion--your overall conclusion about what your paper adds up to.

    Since you can't talk about everything at once, sub-divide your thesis/conclusion into 5-6 sub-points. Those sub-points will form the topic sentences for the body paragraphs--the point that you want to make in that paragraph.

    Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence, and each topic sentence should be followed by lots of specific details and examples and short quotations from the texts, as well as your explanation/analysis of that information.

    WRITING TIP: It is often effective to arrange your sub-points according to the Order of Climax--begin with your second-best sub-point followed by your weakest sub-point and then work your way up to your best sub-point at the end so that the paper finishes on a strong note. Whatever order you use, always end with your strongest material.

    For quotations, include a page number (in parenthesis) directly after the quote. If it isn't clear in the paragraph which text you are referring to, insert the author's name before the page number, as in this example: (Ellison 10). Avoid long quotations in short papers. It is often more effective to work a quoted word or short phrase into your own sentence.

    If you consult outside/secondary sources, follow MLA directions (below). In that case, I prefer you use the method of including the author's name in the paragraph at the beginning of the borrowed material (According to Smith, . . .) and putting the page number in parenthesis at the end of the borrowed material. A separate Works Cited page is needed if outside/secondary sources are used. Remember that the outside/secondary source must be cited whether you summarize it, paraphrase it, or quote it.

NOTE: I hate skimpy body paragraphs that are only 1-2 sentences long; put some meat on those bones--another 6-8 sentences of details and examples and explanations, please!)

    Conclusions in short papers should be short--maybe 3-4 sentences long. Begin the concluding paragraph with a re-statement of your thesis--but in language different than was used in the introduction. In a couple more sentences, refer to your topic as a whole-- why it is significant and worth studying, for instance, or finally, what it all adds up to.

NOTE: In a short paper, do not repeat your sub-points--much too repetitious.

See also Avoid Plagiarism and Typing Directions and MLA style.

MLA Style Documentation

See this short summary of MLA style: Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format (see sub-headings in left column). Together, they give the basic "rules" for in-text citation and bibliographies, including how to cite electronic sources.

Put all documentation on a separate bibliography page (labeled "Works Cited") and follow MLA directions.

See an example of Basic Paper Format (scroll down the page) and an example of a Works Cited Page. However, maintain a normal left-hand margin.

For more detailed information on MLA style, consult a hardcopy of the "official" MLA Handbook.

See also Organizing your Paper and Avoiding Plagiarism and Typing Directions.

Avoid Plagiarism:

Remember the basic rules for avoiding plagiarism.

  • The language used for paraphrases/summaries should be very different than the original language used by your source.
  • The language used in quotations must be exactly the same as the original language used by your source.
  • Quotation marks must be used around all quotations. If you have a quote-within-a-quote, use a combination of double and single quote marks (see me for assistance).
  • Cite a source for ALL summarized and paraphrased and quoted material.

See also Organizing your Paper and Typing Directions and MLA style.

Typing Directions:

Use Times New Roman font, size 11 or 12. Double-space everything--no exceptions. Use one-inch margins on all sides. Include your last name and page number in top-right corner, 1/2 inch from top. (Carefully handwrite it in if you do not know how to do that on a computer.)

On the first page, in the top-left corner, put your name, your instructor's name, the class name and number, and the date. Below that, in the center of the page, add a title.

See an MLA example (scroll down the page): Basic Paper Format

Put all documentation on a separate page as shown here: Works Cited Page.

See also Organizing your Paper and Avoiding Plagiarism and MLA style.

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