Guidelines on Essay Three (English 227)

Due Date:  Monday, December 18 at 12 PM.  Drop your essay in my mailbox in the English Department, 612 Pray Harrold, or slide it under my office door, 603G Pray Harrold.  Also leave a self-addressed envelope if you want your essay returned to you with commentary.

Length:  Your essay must be a minimum of 4½ pages.  If your essay is shorter, the grade will go down proportionately.  You can, however, exceed this page limit as much as your argument might require.  If you go at least three pages beyond the 4½-page minimum, I will give you a significant amount of extra credit: either by dropping one absence (if you have exceeded the minimum) or by adding 3% to your final grade.

Formatting:  Your essay must be typed, double spaced, and formatted according to the writing conventions that we have discussed throughout the semester.  The key thing to remember: do not try to make the paper appear longer than it actually is.  Use twelve-point Times New Roman font, only one-inch margins, regularly-sized paragraphs, and altogether avoid extra spaces around your name, title, quotations, or paragraphs.  Save a copy of your essay both on a disk and in print before turning it in to me.

Citations:  This essay must have a Works Cited page, formatted according to the basic MLA (Modern Language Association) conventions.  Several handouts on MLA formatting are available in the Electronic Reserves.  MLA documentation requires parenthetical citations within the essay itself; that is, the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence, e.g. (Armstrong 55).  It also requires a Works Cited page, wherein you list all of the sources that you have cited, which may be significantly fewer than those that you have only consulted.  You can model your citations on the common citations that follow (just make sure to alphabetize and double-space them):


Gillespie, Paula.  The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring.  Boston: Allyn Press, 2000.


Duvall, John N.  “The (Super)Marketplace of Images: Television as Unmediated Mediation in DeLillo’s White Noise.”  Arizona Quarterly 50.3 (1994): 127-53.

Journals found through an Online Database:

Johnson, Kirk.  “The Mountain Lions of Michigan.”  Endangered Species Update 19.2 (2002): 27-45.  Expanded Academic Index.  Halle Lib., Ypsilanti, MI. 26 Nov. 2002. <>

Chapters in an Anthology or Collection:

Harris, Muriel.  “Talk to Me: Engaging Reluctant Writers.”  A Tutor's Guide: Helping Writers One to One.  Ed. Ben Rafoth.  New York: Heinemann, 2000.  24-34.


Research Requirements:  You must consult at least five sources in addition to the primary text (William Shakespeare’s Hamlet) from each of the following categories:

1) Either Sigmund Freud, “The ‘Uncanny,’” Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Epistemology of the Closet,” or Edward Said, “Imaginative Geography”;

2) An article, book, or book chapter discussing cultural/historical context relating to Hamlet and to your topic (see the bibliographies available in the book, and/or search the Halle databases);

3) One of the examples of literary criticism on Hamlet included in the back of our edition;

4) Another article, book, or book chapter of literary criticism on Hamlet not included in that edition;

5) An article, book, or book chapter of literary theory not otherwise covered in this class, or a different work of a theorist that we have already covered in this class.  A good place to find literary theory is in the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (available on reserve at the Halle circulation desk).  Also see the bibliographies for the various kinds of criticism in the back of the Hamlet edition.

You must significantly engage with at least three of these sources in the essay itself, either by applying the scholar’s argument in an innovative fashion to the primary text or by using the primary text to complicate or even contest the argument.

No internet materials will count for these minimum source requirements, although you can always cite internet sources in addition to the required sources if you need to.  Articles found through online databases (described below) are fine, if not ideal, to use: these sources are peer-reviewed and are therefore distinct from and preferable to other online materials.  

Databases:  Not only is the MLA database the most important resource to consult for a well-researched essay, it is also extremely easy to use.  See the link on the Halle library’s homepage for Databases ( and look for “MLA Database.”  Several databases — e.g. FirstSearch and Wilson — are linked directly through this database, making many full-text scholarly articles (but by no means all of them) readily available online.  Two other excellent databases to consult are Project Muse and JSTOR, also available on theDatabases” web page

You will likely need to visit the library in person to get the most relevant and most interesting materials for your paper.  In fact, the more unique your topic is, the more necessary an offline, real-world, trudge-up-the-stairs visit to the library will be.  The MLA will refer you to hard-copy materials as well, whether they are in book collections or in anthologies, or in one of the many fine journals that are (as yet) unavailable online.   

There is also a new “EMU MultiSearch” link on the Halle main page ( that you can use to search multiple databases at once.  In addition, Google Scholar (listed with the other Databases) makes a number of books and book chapters available online.

See the Researching Literature handout for further information about using the databases or locating research materials:

Essay Presentation:  There will be an informal five-minute, in-class presentation of the research that you have done for your essay during the last class (Section 3: Thursday, December 14, 1:30-3:00; Section 4: Friday, December 15, from 11:30-1:00 PM), the time otherwise scheduled for the final exam.  In it, you will provide background on your topic, thesis, and theoretical approach to the literature.  The main talking points for the presentation are as follows:

1) Contextualize your topic and describe your thesis about it, likely drawing on the historical or literary critical work that you have uncovered through research;

2) Provide sketch of the trajectory and organization of your research essay;

3) Read aloud and discuss one of your favorite passages from your essay;

4) And/or read aloud and discuss a passage from one of the outside sources, one not otherwise available in the Hamlet edition or covered in class. 

Research Essay Grade:  The research essay will be similar to a final exam in that it must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the skills that we have covered over the course of the semester, whether in terms of writing, critical thinking, or literary theory.  See the Checklist for Essay Three ( to make sure that you have polished the paper appropriately.

Your grade will be based on four factors: 1) to what extent you demonstrate an ability to think critically about literary texts, 2) the importance and originality of your topic and thesis, 3) how well you write and organize your essay and substantiate your argument; and finally, 4) the extent to which you perform the criteria mentioned above.  Most importantly, make sure to address the five scholarly sources in your essay and demonstrate a sincere effort to document those sources properly.  If you do not cite the minimum sources described above, you can expect to receive a C+ at most on your essay.

Also remember that plagiarized papers will receive no credit, jeopardizing your final grade and perhaps even your ability to pass the class.