Essay 2: Literary Researched Argument
MLA Format Guidelines according to syllabus
Write a well-organized, well-developed, well-supported (with primary and secondary sources), MLA-cited, grammatically–correct, stylistically-interesting argument paper on a topic and work(s) we have discussed from the Early Modern (Renaissance) period.
To create this argument essay, you will
o Select a theme of interest covered in the Early Modern period—for instance marriage, love, sexuality/desire, court life, religion, moral integrity, sovereignty, class structures, identity, clothing/cross-dressing, gender, and such.
• Please note that these are just broad themes or issues from which you will narrow down to a topic, think of some questions, research, and then craft your thesis and argument.
o Identify primary sources from the Early Modern period covered in the course that directly relates to the theme.
o Synthesize the material and formulate an argument that illustrates how the author/text/characters develop that theme and (more importantly) why this matters.
o Locate and implement the use of secondary sources to help support the argument. A minimum of two (2) academically-appropriate secondary sources are required (see “Secondary Sources and Citations” section below).
o If you have a hard time choosing a topic or narrowing it down, don’t procrastinate. TALK TO ME!
Summary vs. Analysis/Interpretation/Argument
o Remember that you should not rely on summarizing the primary texts in this paper; analysis is not summary. Assume that your reader already knows the plot of the work.
o You will most likely start with an interesting point, impression, observation, or question, and then move toward an interpretive and argumentative claim. Because this is an argumentative essay and not just a response paper, you do not want to just summarize or point out an observation/literary element (“Here’s a metaphor!”).
o Also remember that this is not just a research paper/summary of secondary sources. The critical sources you find should either be integrated as a way to improve your own argument or as a way to enter the academic conversation in your introduction. Make sure that your paper doesn’t just neatly summarize what others have said. More on this under the “Sources” section.
Thesis & Argument:
o Your essay should have a thesis statement that makes a clear and specific argumentative claim about whatever you decide to analyze. Do not try to answer too many questions or cover too many themes in this essay. Have a specific, focused argument; then, support it, develop it, and stay on topic.
o Here’s what I mean by arguable: You can’t argue with a statement of fact or plot (example: “Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge.”). However, a statement like “Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother” is interpretative, something that another reader may disagree with and something that you could defend with evidence from the text and connections that you make. The rest of a paper with this argument as its thesis would be an attempt to show, using specific examples from the text, (1) how Hamlet is in love with his mother, (2) why he’s in love with her, and (3) what implications there are for reading the play in this manner.
Evidence & Development:
o Your essay should support your thesis with well-analyzed examples from the text(s) and secondary sources. Make sure to use quotes from the texts, explanations of quotes, and historical and cultural background to develop and support your claims.
o When rereading the works, focus on finding passages that you think are key to explain your thesis and back up your argument. These passages will be used as evidence. Aim for one good quote per paragraph – abstract assertions with no concrete evidence do not make for an effective essay.
o Body paragraphs must each have a clear, arguable topic sentence that is not based on summary.
o Do not organize your body paragraphs by sources. Organize them by your subpoints that relate to your thesis. The secondary sources should work for your argument, not as your argument.
Secondary Sources & Citations:
o Do not plagiarize and do not rely too heavily on secondary sources. The first will receive a zero and notice to student services (see syllabus), and the second will not receive a passing grade.
o The core of the essay should be your ideas. Make sources relate to your argument.
o Sources may be used in the following ways:
• Back up what you’re saying; work as evidence
• That you agree with but want to show different examples/evidence
• That you want to disagree with and show counter examples/explain why
• That give contextual/background information related to your argument
• That show common critical views on text you’re working with
o If you quote material, you should spend twice the space it took up analyzing it and showing how it relates to your thesis/argument. Avoid long quotes unless you are going adequately analyze them.
o Make sure to also lead into your direct quotes and put a proper citation afterwards. Vary how you use source material (summarizing, quoting, paraphrasing). Remember that ANY idea taken from a source MUST be followed by an in-text citation, like this: (Shakespeare 1141).
o Students will use at least two academically-appropriate secondary sources which come only from RPCC’s library databases. General internet research done via Google or other online search engine will result in a full letter grade deduction.
Essay 2 Grading Rubric
Scores: 5=Superior, 4=Strong, 3=Borderline, 2=Weak, 1=Inadequate
Meets assignment requirements for topic, purpose, and formatting
Introduction & Thesis (x3)
Catches the reader’s attention, sets up background information, and ends with a thesis that indicates the text and topic being discussed and the significance of such an argument
Body paragraphs move in a logical order, using clear topic sentences that include transitions.
Body paragraphs are fully developed and contain necessary and relevant information, including concrete examples from the text and explanations.
Use of Source Material (x3)
Correct, appropriate, and varied integration of examples from source material; properly formatted in-text citations; all source material is effectively introduced and explained—no dropped quotes or forgotten citations
Ends clearly and with an emphasis on what the reader should gain by understanding the textual analysis.
Works Cited (x2)
Includes properly formatted MLA Works Cited that lists all sources used
Sentences are complete and clear and demonstrate variety; they also avoid issues with subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement/reference, and verb forms or tense shifts, POV shifts.
Sentences implement the correct use of punctuation, spelling, word choice, abbreviations, numbers, and capitalization.
________ / 100
Too short: -5 points per ½ page
Plagiarism: “0” and reported to College
Failure to use library databases to find second sources: -10
Lack of Audience Awareness (use of language that is offensive or academically inappropriate, including use of 2nd person POV—intentional or unintentional) (-10 pts)