Assignment 3: Research and analysis paper

Research and analysis paper

Link to the library course site can be found here.

Assignment Due Date Percentage of course grade
Prospectus 11/2 5%
Exploratory essay/bibliography 11/12 10%
Detailed outline 10/17 With blog grade
Final draft 11/24 15%

Your final paper will be a 7-9 page, thoroughly researched, thesis-driven paper about a “literary hoax”— a piece of literature about hoaxes, literature written or received as a hoax, and so on. Some examples (note that these range through many genres and different relationships to “hoax” and “truth,” so you’ll have to be very clear about what your chosen subject is and isn’t, i.e., don’t call satire a hoax, or vice versa):

  • Our dearly beloved Poe: “The Journal of Julius Rodman,” “Von Kempelen and his Discovery,” “The Balloon-Hoax” (this is different than the moon hoax), “Maelzel’s Chess-Player” (an essay debunking a hoax)
  • Crockett’s Exploits and Adventures in Texas, Written by Himself (1837), a pretty quick read available as a free ebook
  • “The Blood Runs Like a River Through my Dreams,” by “Nasdijj”: link to Esquire article here, but beware: because it’s Esquire it might give you some racy ads or links.
  • Thomas Chatterton’s Thomas Rowley poems
  • James Macpherson’s Ossian poems
  • James Whitcomb Riley’s “Leonanie” (said to be Poe’s)
  • Lauren Slater’s Lying
  • “Forrest Carter’s” Education of Little Tree
  • Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”
  • Catch Me If You Can (film)
  • Big Eyes (film)
  • Paranormal Activity (film)
  • F is for Fake (film by Orson Welles)
  • You could take a more traditional hoax and compose an essay arguing why it should be considered “literature”

The ultimate goal of this paper is to argue for a claim about the cultural significance of a particular literary hoax, utilizing both primary and secondary research, which may include news articles, public responses, academic articles, and other materials that fill out the context of your topic. Your close reading and rhetorical analysis skills will still come in handy here, as this paper must incorporate close and careful readings of your texts and contexts, but you will be developing an additional set of skills here as by incorporating a significant research component.

This paper will prepare you to be ready and able to join a pre-existing academic conversation. Research skills will be integral to your success at Emory (and beyond), and we will spend much of the latter half of this course working on this extended research project, which will be broken into several stages before your first polished draft. I will give you substantial feedback at every stage, and I strongly encourage you to come talk to me during offices hours or set up a meeting:

Prospectus: Write a one-page single-spaced document to propose a topic for your final literary analysis and research paper. Unlike the first paper, in which you had a clear task, your research paper asks a bit more—not simply that you can give a good reading of a text, but that you are writing a paper that ought to be written—that engages important questions and illuminates important topics. Your prospectus is your opportunity to make the case for your paper.

You’ll need to give a brief background of the hoax you’re interested in, explain why you find it interesting, and propose a research question, explaining why that question is problematic and significant. Point towards evidence from your source that you’ll use to answer or inflect that question. Questions may include (though are certainly not limited to): What made a particular hoax successful (or not) at a given point in time? What social factors might a hoax have been responding to? Is a hoax perhaps responding to developments in gendered or racial relations? Scientific advancement? Military incidents? How is an author utilizing or disrupting hoax tropes to influence their audience? How does literary form inflect the hoax? Be as specific as possible to ground your claim, and indicate what types of sources you’ll be looking for to answer these questions.

Exploratory essay/bibliography: Compose a 1-page single-spaced essay narrating your process as you work on your final paper. What have you been particularly struck by as you read through source documents and secondary research? Has your research question evolved as you begin research? Talk, too, about your research process—what have you found—or not found?

Briefly summarize (3-5 sentences) at least 6 sources and explain their utility for your project—what you found useful, what you found unconvincing, and how they influence your own claims. Include an MLA style citation for each.

Outline: Compose the most detailed outline possible for your paper. It should include your overall thesis, a topic sentence for each of your paragraphs, and several pieces of evidence per paragraph. Include the quotes or pieces of evidence that you will use, both from the source text, and from your research sources, and indicate how they will support your claim.

Final paper: 7-9 double-spaced pages that integrate close reading and rhetorical analysis of a source document with information pulled from secondary sources in order to make a claim about a literary hoax:

In an “A” paper, the author has established the stakes of the paper—the reader understands why they should take the time to read this paper. The thesis is interesting, specific, and debatable, and is supported by elegantly integrated, thoroughly explained evidence from both the source text and secondary sources. The paragraphs each advance a claim that is necessary to support the thesis, and the essay is organized to build to a crescendo. The reader never questions why they are being given a particular piece of evidence, or what the function of a particular sentence is—they are instead expertly guided from one point to the next. Compelling counterarguments are addressed and dismissed or integrated. The subject matter is approached with complex, rather than binary, thinking, and avoids generalizations. The paper is grammatically correct, carefully edited, with concise, tight prose. Sources are properly documented. Each piece is properly formatted, in 12-point Times New Roman with 1-inch margins, a proper heading, and page numbers. See bottom of this page for the grading criteria we developed together in class.

This paper integrates all four of this course’s outcomes. Be prepared to articulate how your paper demonstrates each.

  • Outcome 1: Rhetorical Awareness and Composition. You will demonstrate understanding of genre, audience, and purpose in both reading and writing. You will analyze, use, and adapt generic conventions, including organization, development, and style, while composing in multiple genres and modes, including text, audio, and image.
  • Outcome 2: Writing as Process. You will understand and practice writing as a process, recursively implementing strategies of research, drafting, revision, editing, and reflection. You will reflect on your own writing process, and learn to critique your own work and the work of others.
  • Outcome 3: Critical Thinking and Reading Resulting in Writing. As you undertake scholarly inquiry and produce your own arguments, you will summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others, which you will encounter in a variety of media: print, visual, aural, oral, and spatial. You will learn accepted and ethical ways to integrate other texts into your work. You will use writing as a critical thinking tool.
  • Outcome 4: Hoax-Related Expertise. You will be able to write with clarity about the messy intersections of veracity and deception, especially as they apply to literary and popular texts, without being reductive or relying on binary thought. You will be able to support your own claims with reliable theoretical and historical materials.
Introduction ·      Engaging: draws the reader in, inspires curiosity

·      Gives background to set the stakes and introduce the topic: main themes of primary source

·      Starts broad—big picture à specific (but NOT: “Since the dawn of time…”)

·      Leads to thesis—material is necessary before we can understand your claim

Thesis ·      Makes a specific, debatable claim (maybe positioned against the counter-argument: so and so things xyz, but I argue….) about the primary object (film, text, etc.)

·      Summarize points to come: give a roadmap

·      Complexity: non-binary thinking

Organization ·      Primary source is introduced with concise, relevant summary (probably early)

·      Paragraphs are arranged logically: they work together to support your thesis.

·      Paragraphs build on one another: you couldn’t put them in a different order and have the same argument.

Topic Sentences ·      Clearly outline where you’re going in the paragraph and prepare prepares you for evidence. Be specific!

·      Connection to thesis and signposting your argument: might indicate changing direction or development of argument, and so provides transitions.

·      When appropriate, debatable & complex, unless giving factual information as background




·      Your claim about the film/story/essay should be center-stage

·      Close reading drawing on concrete evidence (i.e. specific words, images, tone, structure, pronouns), analysis of author’s apparent motives or the likely impact on readers/viewers. Use rhetorical analysis!

·      Secondary sources: quotes support your point about the primary “text.”

·      Evidence supports your point—it does not take over your argument

·      Evidence follows the rules of quotation integration

·      Evidence integrated with effectively and with variety—i.e., sometimes with colons, sometimes built into a sentence, sometimes as summary or paraphrase.

·      All direct quotes are in quotes: no patchwriting!

Analysis ·      Hourglass!

·      Every quote needs an introduction: context & authority—who’s talking? (i.e. attributive tag)

·      Every quote needs follow-up—why is it here?

·      Thorough connection between evidence and topic sentence

Conclusion ·      Brief summary that gives the shape of the argument—what has developed through this paper?

·      Zoom out: so what? You can bring in a larger context, discuss the implications of your analysis for broader questions about truth, authority, hoaxes, etc.

Style & grammar ·      Word choice & variety: easy to understand, no jargon

·      Concise & precise—not fluffy: no extra words

·      “Flows” & varies sentence length—some short, some long

·      Proofread—no errors or typos

·      Punctuation and grammar used correctly

Format ·      Times, 12-pt, page numbers, 1” margins.
Documentation ·      MLA format: proper in-text citations and works cited page