Studies in 18th-Century Lit

Literature 315

Winter 2004

Guidelines on the Research Essay:


Due Date:  April 26, 2004, 12:00 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, stamped manila envelope if you want commentary on your essay.


Length:  Your essay must be a minimum of six pages.  If your essay is shorter, the grade will go down proportionately: 17% for 5 pages, 25% for 4˝ pages, 50% for 3 pages, etc.  You can, however, exceed this page limit as much as your argument might require. 


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


Citations:  The essay must have a Works Cited page, formatted according to MLA (Modern Language Association) conventions.  A handout on MLA formatting is available in the Electronic Reserves.  MLA documentation requires parenthetical citations — that is, the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence, e.g. (Said 55) — as well as the Works Cited page, wherein you list the sources that you have quoted, which may be significantly fewer than those sources that you have only consulted.  Common citations are as follows, only they should also be alphabetized and double-spaced:


Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner.  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.

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 three sources: one historical article, book chapter, or book relating to your topic and two scholarly articles or chapters from scholarly books.  You must significantly engage with these secondary materials in the essay itself, either by applying the authors’ arguments in an innovative fashion to the primary text or by using the primary text to complicate or even contest those arguments.  No internet materials will count for these minimum source requirements, although of course articles found through the Halle’s online databases are fine, if not ideal, to use.  Since you will only have room to consult a few authors directly in the paper, pick your sources wisely in terms of relevance and substance.  


Databases:  Not only is the MLA database the most important resource to consult for a well-researched essay, but it also is 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) readily available online.  Two other excellent databases to consult are Project Muse and JSTOR, also available on the “Databases” web page.  In addition, you will have to find some articles in person in the library in order to have the most relevant and interesting material for your paper.  The MLA will refer you to these materials as well, whether they are in a book or anthology or in one of the many fine journals that are (as yet) unavailable online.  See the “Recommended Databases for Literature” for further information about using the databases and locating research materials.  It is available both online and in the Electronic Reserve:


Essay Topic:  Rule number one: write on something that you very much want to write on and are especially interested in learning more about and mulling over more deeply.  If you have a secondary interest (linguistics, sociology, anthropology, political science) or another major, minor, or basic life ambition (e.g. teaching, social work), see if you can find a way to tie in that other interest to the concerns of restoration and eighteenth-century literature.  You cannot write on the three novels covered in the second half of the semester — The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, and Northanger Abbey — but you may write on any other work that we have covered in class and even, in some cases, other works by the same authors.


Essay Proposal:  In the proposal, you will 1) identify the topic you will address, 2) explain the argument you plan to make about that topic, 3) list in MLA style the three sources that you have consulted, and 4) provide an outline.  Your outline must include the following: an introduction, a thesis statement, and at least four topic sentences.  This essay proposal will be worth the equivalent of two responses.


Research Essay Grade:  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, if you do not address the three scholarly sources described above in your essay, you can expect at most to receive a C.  Also remember that turning in a paper you wrote for another class as an essay for this class, i.e. recycling the same words for double credit, constitutes academic dishonesty at EMU.  Any such paper, or any plagiarized paper, will receive no credit, jeopardizing your final grade and likely even your ability to pass the class.