- Don’t give the biography of the author.
- Don’t retell the story. Seriously, don’t!
Analyze the Literature
- Textual Criticism. Establishing the text is important for ancient texts & frequently for more recent ones as well.
- Source Criticism. What sources did the author use? What did the author change? Keep the same? What does that mean? Here is an example of source criticism.
- Psychological approaches.
- Sociological approaches.
- Structural (and post-structuralist) approaches
- This is just a thumbnail sketch of all the approaches to literature. A good place to start becoming familiar with the various approaches is by collecting the Critical Theory Trading Cards. Never be at a loss for a way to analyze literature again!
CRITERIA FOR GRADING
THE RESEARCH PAPER
- You did not provide a thesis.
- You assumed a thesis but did not state it. Or you stated a thesis, but the thesis was vague or too broad.
- You provided an adequate thesis.
- You provided an outstanding thesis that cogently sets up your analysis.
- You had neither topic sentences nor logical development.
- a. You had topic sentences, but they were not logical.
- b. You had logical development, but you did not provide topic sentences.
- Weak topic sentences. Weak development.
- a. You had topic sentences, but they did not support your thesis.
- b. You had topic sentences, but they were too broad.
- You had both topic sentences and logical development. These provide a competent but uninspired framework for your description.
- You had excellent topic sentences and logical development.
C. DETAIL (EVIDENCE FROM PRIMARY SOURCES)
- Unsatisfactory use of primary sources.
- a. You provide no supporting details and quotations from the work you were analyzing.
- b. You provide details and quotations in an apparently random order.
- Weak use of primary sources.
- a. You provide some details and quotations, but they are too general and vague.
- b. You provide some details and quotations, but too many do not belong where you place them.
- You provide generally provide details and quotations in the proper places and provide a general picture of what you are analyzing.
- Your use of details and quotations clearly, effectively, and aptly supports your argument.
D. USING RESEARCH MATERIALS (SECONDARY SOURCES)
- Unsatisfactory use of secondary sources.
- a. You did not use research materials in your paper.
- b. You abused research materials (plagarized).
- You used research materials in a manner that demonstrated a lack of mastery of them. Examples of this are quotations that do not support the argument you are tying to make and strings of quotations that run on too long.
- You use materials in a competent but uninspired way to support your argument.
- You smoothly integrate the research materials you use into your argument.
E. WRITING THE ESSAY
- Your essay lacks coherence and cohesion. Transitions are ineffective. The paragraphs read like a list, with no connection between the sentences.
- The paragraphs have a general focus, but some sentences are unrelated. Coherence, cohesion, and transitions need work.
- Paragraphs are generally well developed with fewer than three problems of focus, unity, or coherence. Transitions may be a bit forced.
- Paragraphs are focused, unified, and coherent. Transitions are logical and effective.
- You exceeded 10 serious grammatical mistakes.
- You had 7-9 grammatical errors.
- You had 4-6 errors.
- You had 1-3 errors.