The overarching theme of the Senior English classes is “choice.” Thus, having chosen a work that you find appealing, you will also choose your own focus of study in writing a close analysis of that work. Drawing out an essential element (whether it be thematic, structural, ideological, historical, or any number of other literary aspects you can focus on) from a work of literature is a fundamental skill for the student of literature to possess. As seniors, you have been cultivating this skill over the course of your high school career. Therefore, you are now challenged to ascertain the most pertinent and intellectually intriguing aspect of your chosen work and to develop a strong, argumentative thesis based on it. Should you need some kind of focus, you may consider your work in light any of the concepts we have discussed throughout the year (consider leadership ideas, language usage, social commentary, etc.). Your thesis, however, must be provable based on the text itself—in other words, you topic must be relevant to the story at hand.
• 1500-2100 words (5-7 pages); typed, double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman
• ALL margins must be 1”. Check default margins in page setup.
2. Content of the Primary Source:
• Analyse the theme, symbolism, style, and narratorial choices of your chosen primary source.
• Address how the work reflects the society, culture, politics, literary theory, etc. of the time in which it was written.
• Choose thesis based on an aspect that appeals to you and if relevant which addresses the concepts of sovereignty and stewardship.
3. Secondary Sources:
• Must make use of a minimum of two valid, authoritative outside critical (or support sources in the case of a work which does not have a critical body written on it) sources in the writing of your paper. Research implies you have consulted expert opinions and analysis of your text. This research will serve as support for your own ideas developed in light of your thesis. Finally, your critical sources must reflect and have a direct bearing on your chosen topic; random selection of sources with no attention to content is not acceptable.
• Though no specific number is required, due to the nature of this paper, you will need to research background information on the culture and society of your author as is relevant to the work chosen. Any and all sources consulted should be contained in your annotated bibliography. WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A VALID CRITICAL SOURCE.
• You must keep copies of your sources, whether in hard copy or in electronic form. You should be able to produce this proof of your sources upon request from your teacher, though this is also for your own benefit in keeping the information readily at hand.
4. Style and Organization:
• MLA format should be used in all citations and documentation. See the MLA Handbook, or provided websites for this format.
• How you structure your paper (paragraph format, number of paragraphs, etc.) is up to you. Determine the best structure to demonstrate your ideas and to prove your assertions.
• Papers that do not have properly documented quotations and paraphrases will not be accepted.
5. Oral Defense:
• All students will be required to present their papers and defend their theses and analyses orally to the instructor, as well as a potential panel of other instructors. Defenses can be expected to run 10-15 minutes; students can choose slots before or after school.
The Thesis Defense
The purposes of the thesis defense include:
• Making a public presentation and defense of a scholarly research project
• Exhibiting expertise in terms of research, analysis, and synthesis of scholarship
• Satisfying the teacher that the student has been successful in explaining the essence of the research and the argument of the written paper, and has done so by employing clear and effective writing and oral communication
The oral thesis defense is devoted primarily to the thesis, although wider issues do sometimes enter into the discussion. The student should speak for 5-10 minutes, reviewing the thesis, its logical organisation, and its evidence. Questions from the teacher and any guests will follow.
Students may be asked to address the following topics, among others:
• origin and development of the thesis idea or proposal
• secondary literature (current scholarly opinion/debates in the research field)
• research methods, analytical procedures, and alternative approaches
• uses of evidence, formulation of conclusions
• possible counterarguments and/ or implications of the thesis for further investigation
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