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This is the "College Research Paper" page of the "Mesa High School AP Literature and Composition" guide.
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Mesa High School AP Literature and Composition  

Mr. Garcia's AP Literature and Composition resource page.
Last Updated: Feb 4, 2016 URL: http://libguides.mpsaz.net/mhsap Print Guide RSS Updates

College Research Paper Print Page

Journal Databases

Here are the links to the article databases provide by Mesa Public Schools and Google Scholar/Google Books. You will need to see your teacher for a user name and password if you are accessing this source from home.

Citation Generator

Use this citation generator to create flawless citations for your Works Cited Page.


Other Tips for Writing Your Paper


25 Literary Approaches


Abstract and Annotated Bibliography

Click on the link to check out the description and examples of Abstracts and Annotated Bibliographies.


College Research Paper


AP Literature and Composition

College Research Paper- Literary Analysis

 The goal of this paper is to give you an authentic college essay writing experience in the area of literary analysis. This is a very open ended paper since you will be allowed to develop your own topic (with some boundaries) for my approval.

 For this paper, you will need to choose one of the 25 literary approaches to analyzing literature (see attached) and develop a topic within that area of criticism. The literature you choose to analyze must be one of the novels or plays that you have read this year for this class. Once you choose your literary approach and develop your topic, I will need to approve it before you move forward.


Let’s say you chose the Gender Studies Approach. Under this approach, you need to think of a specific topic that you will analyze for a work of literature, say The Scarlet Letter for example. Since the Gender Studies Approach deals with issues related to gender, you would need to develop a topic related to The Scarlet Letter and gender issues.

 Your claim for your paper can then be something like:

       “In The Scarlet Letter, Pearl is asexual, rejecting both the Puritan societal expectations for males and females.”

 Here you see the writer has made a claim, based on his own observations regarding a gender related issue.

 Or, let’s say you chose the Reception Aesthetics Approach. This approach deals with how each individual reader receives a work of literature. Essentially, this theory argues that literature has no inherent meaning—that the meaning comes from how the reader perceives the text. Using the same novel, The Scarlet Letter, you might then develop a claim like this:

       “The color black provides remarkable insight into each of the major characters' internal conflicts in the novel The Scarlet Letter.”

 Notice how this claim relates to how a particular individual interprets the color black in the text. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, may never have intended this claim to be present in the novel, but that doesn’t matter. This is how the reader perceives the text.

 Paper Requirements

 1. Abstract and Annotated Bibliography (100 points).

 For this portion of the paper, which will be due first, you will need to write an abstract and complete an annotated bibliography of at least 10 sources you may use to support the claims in your paper. Your abstract should contain your tentative claim.

 2. Final Paper with Works Cited Page (200 points)

 You will need to craft a 5-8 page paper in which you analyze your specific claim for your literary approach. Your goal is to defend, explore, and complicate your claim through thorough analysis of details from the text. Throughout the paper, you must demonstrate substantial textual evidence from your literary work in support of your claim while also incorporating supporting evidence from at least five other outside sources.

 A draft of your paper will be due for peer review before your final paper will be due.

 Your paper must include a title page, a proper running page heading with your last name and page number, an abstract, a works cited page, and a bibliography (sources read but not directly cited).

 Double space your paper and type it in 12 point, Times New Roman font.

 The paper’s organization will be up to you. Organize your paper in whatever way contributes to a logical exploration of your claim.

 Use MLA format.


 Your research must come from articles contained in EBSCO-host or from other literary journals of merit. You may also find some leads under Google Scholar as a last resort (these must still be journal articles).  Under no circumstances are you to cite web pages, blogs, encyclopedia entries, or other non-credible sources such as Wikipedia. You may use literary criticism books from your school library. Those are the dusty books in the reference section of the Media Center that haven’t been used since the late 1920s.


Plagiarism is when you claim that ideas from other sources are your own. Be very cautious as you write your paper not to commit an act of plagiarism. Whether it is intentional or not, the consequences will be severe. To be safe, cite sources even when you don't directly quote from the source. If an idea is NOT your own, give credit where credit is due. Even if you use ONE SENTENCE that is not your own, it is still classified as plagiarism. Plagiarism will result in a ZERO for this entire assignment. I am interested in your own ideas, not the ideas of other people or ideas posted on websites. 

Remember that your research is supporting material for your own ideas. Your research should not create your ideas for you.



Research Note Cards

Sample Research Note-Cards

 1. Label your 3X5 (works cited cards) by placing a letter for the article in the upper left hand corner.

 2. On the Works Cited card, then place the FULL MLA citation for the source. This will aid in the production of your Works Cited page later.

 3. For each new source, add a new letter. A, B, C, D, E… etc.

 4. For the large note-cards (you will have several for each Works Cited card), label each card with the corresponding Works Cited letter and then assign the card a number. For example, for Works Cited card “A” you might have note-cards “A-1,” “A-2,” “A-3” and so on.

 5. Also write a phrase at the top of the card, describing the purpose of the notes. Where does the note you are taking fit into the context of your research? What area does the research support?  For example: “Evidence of symbolic characters,” etc.

 6. Then, on your note-card, take down the direct quotation you plan to use in your paper, followed by an explanation of the purpose of the quotation! Trust me, if you don’t do this, you WILL forget why you have the quotation later on!

 Once you create your cards, you should have an easy way to later organize your paper!


For a digital set of cards, e-mail mbgarcia@mpsaz.org. 



Research Goals

Research Essay Goals:


1. Set up a jstor.org account. This will give you FREE access to most of the articles in the JSTOR database. Confirm your membership through your g-mail.

2. Set up a Google “Folder” for your research articles. Save all your PDF articles in this folder.





3. Set up a Google Doc in which to cut and paste all of your Works Cited information for your Annotated Bibliography.

4. Download the MLA template and cut and paste it into a separate Google Doc as is, to begin to create your actual essay document.

5. Verify that your research claim is approved by Mr. Garcia.

6. Once your research claim is approved, brainstorm “sub-topics” you will need to research to support your ideas and begin your research.

7. Work on your Annotated Bibliography and Abstract.

8. If you are industrious and efficient with your time, you can print and turn in your Annotated Bibliography and Abstract by the end of class on Friday and be home free during Spring Break!


    Writing your Thesis/Claim


    A thesis statement is a sentence (or sentences) that expresses the main ideas of your paper and answers the question or questions posed by your paper.  It is the place where you are the most specific about what you will discuss in the paper, how you will organize the paper, and what significance your topic has (your argument).  You must have a specific, detailed thesis statementthat reveals your perspective, and, like any good argument, your perspective must be one which is debatable.

    Generally, a thesis statement appears at the end of the first paragraph of an essay, so that readers will have a clear idea of what to expect as they read.  As you write and revise your paper, it's okay to change your thesis statement -- sometimes you don't discover what you really want to say about a topic until you've started (or finished) writing! Just make sure that your "final" thesis statement accurately shows what will happen in your paper.

    Some questions to help you formulate your thesis in a literary analysis paper:

    What is my claim or assertion?

    What are the reasons I have to support my claim or assertion?

    In what order should I present my reasons?

    When Writing Your Thesis/Claim, Consider:

    When you read for pleasure, your only goal is enjoyment. You might find yourself reading to get caught up in an exciting story, to learn about an interesting time or place, or just to pass time. Maybe you’re looking for inspiration, guidance, or a reflection of your own life. There are as many different, valid ways of reading a book as there are books in the world.

    When you read a work of literature in an English class, however, you’re being asked to read in a special way: You’re being asked to perform literary analysis. To analyze something means to break it down into smaller parts and then examine how those parts work, both individually and together. Literary analysis involves examining all the parts of a novel, play, short story, or poem—elements such as character, setting, tone, and imagery—and thinking about how the author uses those elements to create certain effects.

    A literary essay isn’t a book review: you’re not being asked whether you liked a book or whether you’d recommend it to another reader. A literary essay also isn’t like the kind of book report you wrote when you were younger, where your teacher wanted you to summarize the book’s action. A high school- or college-level literary essay asks, “How does this piece of literature actually work?” “How does it do what it does?” and, “Why might the author have made the choices he or she did?”


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