Selecting a topic:
As you know suggestions for topics have been available since the beginning of the term. A number have been listed at the end of your course syllabus and the topics distributed for the two short papers are also appropriate for a longer paper grounded in research. Remember that all of these are suggestions. It will be important for you to discuss your thinking about a topic with me well in advance, as well as throughout the process of research and writing.
Expectations: Some specific notes in addition to the Grading
Criteria already distributed:
My expectations for the paper are fairly common expectations for papers of academic critical analysis, and they function as the criteria I will use to assess your paper. They include
1. Thesis: a well presented argument that provides readers with an interpretation of a Faulkner text or texts. The entire paper should be organized and focused by this argument.
2. Development: The primary support for your claim must come from your own critical analysis of the primary text(s). Develop your argument with clearly articulated subpoints supported by discussion of appropriate passages from Faulkner's work. Do not weaken your paper by quoting excessively or substituting long quotations for discussion. Remember that your task is to convince readers of your interpretation, and that cannot be done simply by copying what Faulkner has written.
3. Research: Your thesis must be grounded in appropriate Faulkner criticism. While you will certainly consult more sources, you must demonstrate your familiarity with a substantial body of Faulkner criticism related to your topic by referring to 3-5 (5-7 for graduate students) secondary sources in your paper. Reading critical interpretations should sharpen your own thinking and perhaps bring to light issues you had not considered before. But do not use secondary sources to "prove" your own interpretation. Use them instead to demonstrate your awareness of what has been said on the subject you're exploring and to demonstrate for your readers what your are adding to the discussion or where you differ from what other critics have said.
As you know, a number of sources have been made available for you on Reserve in the Ingram Library. You will find many more critical works on Faulkner on a variety of subjects in the library catalog. And you must conduct a search of the MLA Bibliographical Index for articles relevant to your topic. The Index is available online through Ingram Library/Galileo. Or click here link and enter MLA Bibliography.
Do not rely on or cite such sources as Cliff's Notes or similar sources available in print or online. While such "notes" might help unravel some of the knots Faulkner presents, they are often unreliable and are always unauthoritative. Similarly, while a number of respectable journals are available online now, personal web sites posted to present an individual's views are not reliable sources for research.
4. Documentation: Document sources completely and correctly
using MLA style. Use a handbook; The MLA Style Manual
and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 2nd edition, 1998, available in the Reference section of the library, PN147 .G444; or a reliable web site such as the one provided at this link as a guide.
5. The final paper should be 12-15 pages in length, typed, double-spaced with one inch margins all around. The Works Cited page should be the final numbered page. It does not count toward the length requirements, however.
6. As always you are expected to demonstate a command of the conventions
of academic composition and usage.