“How has one particular theme or element of American culture changed in its portrayal throughout th

You will be writing a 1,400+ word research paper as a requirement for completing this course. You may choose from a wide variety of topics to answer the following question:

“How has one particular theme or element of American culture changed in its portrayal throughout the time period studied in this course?”

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Some ideas: you might talk about women’s roles, femininity, men’s roles, masculinity, race, racism, war, art, science, religion, etc. If you have another idea, feel free to ask me for guidance.

You will need to use a minimum of three PRIMARY sources (read in this class, either from your textbook or as a provided resource) that covers a large portion of the time period studied. (For example, it would not be appropriate to write an essay on racism using only sources written before 1900.)
You will need a minimum of three SECONDARY (outside) sources for this paper. The three sources must adhere to the guidelines for using sources and must come from outside the textbook. (More information about researched sources will follow.)
The paper should have a clear thesis statement. The thesis statement will be a single sentence, written in the third person, that makes a claim about the topic. It will be located near the end of your first paragraph.
Your paper should have multiple developed paragraphs (an absolute minimum of three, but you will likely need more like 5-7 in order to reach the required length and cover the entire time period of this course).
If you want me to look at your thesis or rough draft, I will be happy to do so. (I will not edit the paper, but I will give you general comments.)
I expect a minimum of three quotes from your primary sources (though you may use more) and three quotes from your secondary sources (though you may use more). However, remember that the target percentage of non-original text for a researched essay is 10-15%, so the bulk of your essay should still be your original writing.
Your paper should be written following MLA guidelines (internal citations for each source; line numbers for poems; page numbers for other works). Use 12-point Times New Roman font, double space, and include a header, title, and page numbers.

Citing the work:
For the works you are using from the textbook, you need to give the page number for any quote from a story and the line numbers from any quote from a poem. For all your sources, you will need a Works Cited page. Give the author and page number (Brown 42) for any quote in the text; the full bibliographic information will appear on the Works Cited page. Follow MLA standards.

For example:

Works Cited

Garland, Hamlin. “Under the Lion’s Paw”. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, ninth edition, volume

C, edited by Robert S. Levine, W.W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 775-784.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, ninth edition,

volume C, edited by Robert S. Levine, W.W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 119-302.

BEGINNING YOUR PAPER:
This paper should be a demonstration of your thoughts and opinions about a subject of your choice. Academic honesty is necessary when constructing a paper, so be sure that you save ALL background information so you can provide your notes should you be asked to do so. Do not plagiarize your work from other sources and risk your integrity and academic future. Please remember that your instructor can and will assign an automatic F3 with a grade of F if you plagiarize your paper extensively OR copy another paper (ie download a paper from the internet). An F3 means that you were withdrawn from the course for cheating; the grade remains on your transcript.

NARROWING THE TOPIC AND TAKING NOTES:
An important step in the research process is the thesis statement — which is crafted once a subject has been adequately narrowed. One needs a subject broad enough to write a minimum of 500 words on, but narrow enough that you don’t wind up needing 500 pages! For example, the thesis statement Most toothpicks are made of wood is not going to take you very far. A better statement would be Wooden toothpicks can be used in a number of amazing ways. See the difference? Another important factor is YOUR interest level in what you have chosen to write about. Think of it as a temporary roommate. Is this topic something you want to live with for the next few weeks? If not, reconsider your topic. Generally speaking, you will either be given a specific topic, or several topics from which to choose what you will write about.

NOTE TAKING:
You can take notes a number of ways. From using note cards or notebooks to simply going to the copy machine and printing up your information to highlight later, there are many ways to assemble your information. Keep the following in mind:

You must use a variety of sources
Your sources must be reliable (do not use blogs, online essay mills or other questionable sources)
You must make sure you can document the source adequately (this means making sure you have page numbers, and/or Web addresses, publishing information and authors for all material you quote or paraphrase.)
Your sources support the point of view you are arguing.

TYPES OF SOURCES:
Overview sources are those that provide general background material such as encyclopedias. They are generally not useful for more than a superficial look at a topic and are not acceptable for this paper.

For this course, library sources involving literary criticism would be ideal. Many of these are available to you online as full text articles. The easiest way to access them is to click “PSC Library” to the left of the screen in this course. This process also gives you access to the catalog of physical books, which can be excellent sources, but I understand that many online students prefer to stick to digital sources.

TAKING NOTES:
When note taking, keep in mind the three “R’s”:

Relevance: is the material you are gathering either directly or indirectly supporting your thesis statement? If not, you don’t want it.
Recent: is the material you are gathering timely? Generally, sources over 15 years old are too old unless you are trying to put something in historical context.
Rank: how important is the information you are gathering? Will it provide your primary defense of your position or secondary? Is the author an authority on the topic or merely Aunt Martha? What is the source of the information? Not everything in print (or online) is reliable.

QUOTES VS PARAPHRASING:
Quotations are used when the information is so concise and so well worded that you cannot say it any better. When shorter than 5 lines, quotes are used within quotation marks. When longer than 5 lines, they are indented on the left with no quotation marks. Refer to a grammar handbook or The MLA Handbook for specific examples. Remember that the author and page number need to be part of the essay’s text, and other identifying information is found on the Works Cited page at the end of your researched paper.

Paraphrases are used when you can condense the information you are taking from the author into your own words. You will still need to cite the author and page the information came from, but since the words are yours, you will not need quotation marks, and you will not indent the information.

Remember–you MUST document every outside source that you use.

WORKS CITED:
The purpose of a Works Cited page is to give credit to other authors for the information you gathered from them for use in your text. It creates a reference document that can be used by others who are also doing research in the area of your topic. For these reasons, it is important to provide as detailed an account of your sources as possible. What follows is a brief overview of documentation. For more detail, you may check the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook or any recent grammar book. Writing Labs on all campuses are also available to help with details. In addition, your instructor is available to help with individual questions.

Below are three general patterns for the Works Cited page. Obviously, there are many more kinds of resources available! Please consult a handbook for help with other sources.

GENERAL BOOK PATTERN:
Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publishing House, Year of Publication.

Jones, Johnathon. Washing Dishes for Fun and Profit. Delacourt, 1983.

GENERAL PERIODICAL PATTERN:
Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine or Journal, volume and issue # (if there is one), Date of Publication, pp article appears on.

Brown, Charlie. “Soap Suds.” Better Dishes Journal, Jul 1994, volume 12, issue 3, pp. 65-72.

GENERAL ON-LINE PATTERN:
Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Title of the Web Site or Online Magazine, Date of publication, http:// complete address.

Smith, Martha, “Famous Dish Washers.” The Web’s Best Guide to Washing Dishes, 15 Jun 1997, http://www.dishwashersABCs.com
(Links to an external site.)
.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:
The Works Cited page is the last section and last page of your research paper.

Names are presented in alphabetical order, last name first unless there is no author. The first word in the title is then presented in the same order.
If you don’t quote, summarize, or paraphrase from a work, it should NOT show up on the Works Cited page.

At any point, you may seek additional assistance and information on the PSC LRC Homepage under the section called “Help, FAQ, About Us.” There are two areas–“Research Paper Help” and “Composing and Citing”– which address all aspects of writing a research paper. A third area, called “Information Guides,” will give you ways and sources for looking up information on argumentation topics.

Do not hesitate to contact any Writing Lab or your instructor for specific, one-on-one assistance concerning your research paper.

At any point, you may seek additional assistance and information on the Pensacola State College Library Homepage, There is a section marked research paper. Anything you need can be found there.

Banned Sources

The list generated below is made up of sources that are easily found, but not readily verified as accurate sources for information. When doing research, look first in print sources such as books, technical journals, and reputable newspapers. Online, refer to Web sites that end in .org, .edu, or .net although these will not always be reliable either. When in doubt, ask your instructor.

Do NOT use:

Wikipedia
Enotes, Monarch Notes, Sparknotes or Cliffnotes
Gradesaver, Bookrags, 123Helpme.com
Masterplots or Shmoop
Essays written by others that are posted on the Web unless part of a university Web site
Blog entries
Information posted on personal Web sites
Works that are self published
Works that have neither an author nor title

Use of these will result in a zero grade for the essay.

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