Below is a description of the kind of document that is expected in this assignment. Remember that in the essay you will be writing for this class, you are expected to follow all the genre and style protocols of a scholarly essay. While MLA style is preferred for this literature class, you may use whatever citation style (APA, Chicago) you find most comfortable. A proposal is a document that outlines for the reader the essence of the argument you intend to pursue in your paper. It is a summary of the commentary you intend to write for your final essay assignment for this class. In many ways, this kind of thing resembles an article or dissertation abstract. (For examples of dissertation abstracts, see the link to “Dissertations and Theses” in the Article Indexes & Research Databases tab in the Library website.) A good source for the kind of literary papers that are appropriate for this class can be found by browsing The Explicator, a journal whose archives can be found via the search utility on the Library webpage. IMPORTANT: Your essay should include information regarding what text you are examining, what point or points you intend to argue, and what data, or the work of which other scholars, do you intend to use to help support your arguments. A biographical approach that focuses solely or primarily on the author?s life story will be of no use to you as an essay topic. If you are examining poetry, you will want to pay attention to issues like rhetoric, image, figurative language, and poetic form; if you are examining a narrative, you will want to consider issues like person, action, place, time, manner, and means, as they are realized in the narrative. For mixed genre works, any and all of these factors can be considered as possible topics. Any of these factors can be used as a focus for illustrating how a work exemplifies its subject matter. It is best to choose one topic, or a subset of one topic, as the focus of your paper. Any attempts to write an essay that covers several of these topics will only make your task that much more difficult. You can choose to offer your own analysis of one of these topics, or you may write an essay that synthesizes scholarly opinion on a particular topic before offering the reader your own conclusions. Either way, be sure to credit all your sources and avoid any approach that can expose you to charges of plagiarism. Remember that in this proposal, you are showing the reader what you intend to tell them in your paper, showing them how you intend to tell them, telling why you have chosen this particular argument, and, finally, what you hope the reader will learn from your presentation. One good source that I’ve found useful in thinking about the genre of “commentary,” which is one way of describing your final essay, is the “About” page for Glossator, an online literary journal: https://glossator.org/about/. While this description may seem overly broad, I’m offering the link with the intention of offering some guidance as you develop your essay. Please feel free to write me with any questions or concerns.
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