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Writing a Literary Research Paper Proposal

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Please help me get started on how to write a proposal given the instructions below.

The proposal is one statement, a sentence, that states the story and author you've chosen, PLUS the theme AND literary element you plan to use to explore that theme, that is, include a theme or themes and a fictional element (or elements) you plan to explore and write about.

Recall that themes are not topics or subjects (such as loss or identity), but rather the author's statement about that topic (such as the devastating effects of a loss at a young age or the effects of a strict conventional society on a character's identity).

Fictional elements may include any of the literary elements in your book and that you took a quiz on (and these below may be further researched in other sources.) You have a whole chapter on the elements of fiction in your textbook and very good questions to ask of the one you choose in the "Writing about Short Stories" chapter in your book. Answering these questions for your chosen story will help you generate material for writing.

Elements include character (do they change and how?), setting, plot (an analysis of the conflicts), formal structure (exposition, complications, crisis, climax and resolution), point of view, style (diction, sentence structure), tone (irony, the different types--verbal, situational, dramatic) and symbol.

Therefore, your proposal might read as follows:

Through her use of setting in "The House on Mango Street," Sandra Cisneros shows the effects of place on a young girl's mental growth.

Shirley Jackson manipulates the formal structure--specifically the exposition, complications and climax-- of "The Lottery" to create the shocking ending.

That's it, one statement. The proposal should reflect your main goal. If your thesis changes a bit as you actually write the paper, that's fine, but please let me know about any drastic changes, such as a different element or theme altogether.

The proposal should include the title and author of the short story on which you plan to write your essay and a specific direction or thesis you plan to explore. You will inevitably write about a theme, but decide also HOW you plan to explore that theme: through character (their words and actions, other characters' words, the narrator's words), setting, tone (including irony and the different types) point of view, style, symbol? (Read the appendices in Charters for help with this and the whole process).

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Solution Preview

To create a response to this statement, you must first choose the novel, short story or reading that is NOT contained in your course syllabus. Since you did not include what WAS contained on the syllabus, my suggestions may use examples that you did cover in class, and if those are not acceptable, you will have to model your response using a selection that you have not covered, but which you, yourself, have actually read, know and can comment upon.

Once the story has been chosen, you must consider what the main themes of the work are; what did the author want to communicate to the readers, and then you must consider the literary tools or devices that they used in order to effectively communicate those themes. Often, those devices will pinpoint the direction ...

Solution Summary

Direction for writing a proposal statement for a literary reserach paper. Three example statements provided for three varied works as models.

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See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Research Paper Proposal

Research Paper Proposal Format
Use the following format for the research proposal as your "guide". Note the word "guide" because you may find a need, given the specific topic you have selected, to modify.

A) Title Page
It should be concise and descriptive - creative wouldn't hurt!

B) The Purpose of Your Research
State the purpose of your research and why it interests you. You are encouraged to select a topic that fosters your professional growth and development. You should also identify the audience for your work. Your research may traverse several fields (eg. Sports Psychology research might be of interest not just to psychologists, but also to teachers, doctors and parents). Your target audience determines what style of writing you may use, and/or what theories to apply.

C) Opening Statement, Argument or Hypothesis
The opening statement, argument or hypothesis focuses your ideas for the paper; it's your argument, insight or viewpoint summarized into a sentence or two that gives the reader your main idea. It present the rationale for you paper and clearly indicates why it is worth exploring. If you are not sure about how to refine, narrow or broaden your thesis, return to #2 above.

D) Summarize two Internet Sources that Support your Topic
Your proposal should summarize two web-based resources that support your topic. Choose the sources carefully. They should demonstrate your understanding of the research issues related to your topic and show your ability to critically evaluate/integrate the literary sources. Choose current, relevant, scholarly sources that can be found by visiting the Empire State College Online Library at http://www.esc.edu/library such as books or professional journal articles. If you are not sure how to do research or use the Empire State College Online Library, return to #1.

E) Document and Cite your Sources
By citing your sources you are letting your reader know that you've consulted experts whose ideas and information back up your own thoughts and ideas. You must cite your sources correctly so that your academic integrity is not called into question. If you don't document, you could inadvertently plagiarizing. Visit the Empire State College's Writing Resource Center to get help with documenting sources or visit Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation site.

F) Expected Outcomes
State here your expected outcomes from the research you will conduct on your topic. If you stated a new hypothesis you will need to state certain expected outcomes that you intend to prove.

G) Is It Set In Stone?
Goodness, no! The idea behind research is exploration. If it is set in stone, we might as well not bother with research. Your proposal outlines your intentions and a plan. Once you delve further into research you very well may find that your opinion, opening statement, etc. may need to be tweaked and edited.

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