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Research Assignment

For this assignment, you will explore how a piece(s) of the literature of your choice comments on prevailing social attitudes about a particular topic (marriage, women’s rights, race, etc) or historical event (e.g. American Civil War). In this paper, you will be blending historical/sociological analysis and literary analysis.

Steps to Take

  1. Select a story, play, or poem.
  2.  Identify which topic or historical event you would like to research.
  3. Research the prevailing societal attitudes during the time of the story/play’s setting0r composition about this topic. You will have to make some informed and reasonable generalizations based on your research.
  4. To formulate a thesis and start to plan your paper, consider the following questions:
  5. Does the story challenge the prevailing societal attitudes about your topic  ,does it reaffirm them, or does it do a combination of both of both ?
  6. Is the text ”Taking a Stand”, presenting a view that would not  have been widely held?
  7. Which people and activities are presented positively in the story?
  8. Which people are presented negatively?
  9. Are characters’ attitudes about this topic used to help readers understand them? Are their attitudes used to symbolize something else? 
  10. Formulate a Thesis that asserts that the story challenges prevailing societal views about the topic, confirms them, or a bit of both.
  11. Develop your argument through examples from the story/play/poem and from your secondary sources.
  12. Use point-by-point organizational structure. Do not simply devote the first half of your paper to a discussion of the social/historical and the second half, the literary. You should blend the two elements.

Example: Say you wanted to write about “The Things They Carry” and its treatment of the Vietnam War. You could divide your topic into several subtopics—-soldiers, bravery, purpose of war, etc. You would then research what people felt about these aspects of war while it was happening. Then you should look at how the story presents war. Is it challenging people’s perceptions or confirming them?

Where to begin

Start at the library. You want to make sure you use both of the library catalog and the online databases, looking   at both journals and books. The following are a list of online databases, available in the library and through remote access from your home, which you might find helpful.

American History Online

Expanded Academic ASAP PLUS

Research Library

Possible Sources for Research Papers:

The New Wife/: The evolving role of the American Wife/by Susan Shapiro

A History of the wife/Marilyn Yalom

Public Vows: a history of marriage and the nation/Nancy Cot

The light of the home: an intimate view of the lives of women in Victorian American/Green, Harvey

Apartheid: A History/Brian Lapping

Blues people Negro music in white America :Baraka, Imamu Amir

Early jazz: Its roots and musical development: Schuller, Gunter

From jazz to swing: African-American jazz musicians and their music, 1890-1935/ Hennessey,Thomas

The History of jazz/Ted Gioia

From Jim Crow to civil rights: The Supreme Court and the struggle for racial equality/Klarman, Michael J.

Journey from Jim Crow the desegregation of transit, Barnes, Catherine A.

The Anti-Apartheid Reader : The Struggle against White Rule in South Africa

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