Key Text Paper
Write 3-5 pages in this paper (at a minimum, at least the equivalent of 3 full pages of
double-spaced, 12-point text not counting the header on page 1 or 750-1250 words).
Use a standard MLA header and number your pages.
Purpose: Argue for and support an interpretation of one of our course key texts using
an underlying literary critical approach.
- Read the entire text carefully and flag and/or annotate important passages.
Consider turning in a “hotspots” annotation of the text for extra-credit.
- Choose one of the suggested critical approaches to the key text you have
selected. Consider carefully the typical questions a reader would use to
approach a text from this particular critical perspective. (Follow the links in the
table below to the Purdue OWL’s pages on each critical approach where you will
find a bulleted list of critical questions.) If you are not familiar with literary
criticism, or have another idea for a critical approach to the paper, make an
appointment to discuss your idea before you begin to write.
KEY TEXT CRITICAL APPROACHES
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK Formalism (link)
New Historicism/Cultural Studies (link)
OROONOKO Marxist (link)
THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT
Short story from class by Poe,
Hawthorne, or Melville
any of the above that seems well-suited,
depending on the particular story
- Research and skim at least three scholarly articles, book chapters, or reference
articles (located Google Scholar or SNU Library databases or holdings) that
relate to your text and critical approach. Non-academic Internet sources will not
count as research, though you may find them helpful to inform your thinking.
- Focus on a specific thesis that states an interpretation of the text informed by
your critical approach. Your interpretation should provide a convincing reading of
the text viewed through the critical lens you have chosen.
- Identify key points that support your thesis. These should be points from your
own thinking and reading about the text that will develop your argument.
- Pinpoint key elements of the text that provide evidence for your key points and
analysis of the text that supports your thesis. You will need to be able to support
your evidence and analysis with specific examples from the text (cite by section,
line, or page number).
- Organize your paper to lead the reader through the key points supporting your
thesis. Consider the most appropriate order for sequencing these key points.
- Discuss each key point in detail, illustrating each key point with specific examples
from the text and context in which it was written (as appropriate to your critical
approach). Be specific in your illustrations, which may include quotes, bits of
dialogue, descriptions of key scenes or character interactions, examples of
narrative strategy and the narrator’s voice, etc. Use appropriate terminology for
the genre of the text and the type of criticism you have chosen.
- Begin and end effectively. Your introduction should state or clearly suggest your
thesis. Do not simply restate your ideas from the introduction in the conclusion,
where you should indicate something about the implications or importance of
10.Follow typical academic writing rules and standards.
11.Use MLA style and documentation guidelines. Be sure to quote and cite when
you integrate material from sources. Papers containing unacknowledged use of
sources (aka plagiarism) will not be accepted.
- Provide a Works Cited page listing your text as a primary source and the
scholarly articles as secondary sources.
13.Give your paper an interesting title that indicates the direction of your thesis. (Do
not use the boring title “Key Text Paper.”)