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This course’s main focus is literary analysis. Your research paper will be a detailed analysis of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. You will support your analysis with three outside sources—books or journal articles—that strengthen your essay’s major claims or examples. The essay needs to be at least five pages and include at least three sources. You must use MLA format to cite parenthetically all direct quotations, paraphrased material, and summarized material. You must also list all sources on a Works Cited page in proper MLA format. Failure to properly cite any source material—be it a sentence or a paragraph—will result in a zero for the assignment.
A literary analysis involves close “reading”: you explain quotes in the text and why they are important. An analysis is not a summary. As you analyze the paper, you are pulling it apart to figure out what it means, what the author might be trying to demonstrate, or what the story itself is saying. Ask yourself “Who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions. Who is central to the passage? What is the context? When or where does the passage occur in the story (context)? How does it relate to the narrative’s larger themes and ideas?
A literary analysis essay is also not about your opinion; you are making an argument. You are also not trying to convince me that the author or the story is good. Separate the author from the story. See “Writing about Literature” at OWL and in your Little Seagull handbook.
Essay Prompts: You can chose one of the following prompts or propose a topic of your own (subject to my approval) based on Morrison’s novel.
1. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye references dolls, Shirley Temple, and other examples of white beauty aesthetics to contextualize Pecola’s self-hatred. Come up with an essay that discusses the way Eurocentric beauty standards contribute to Pecola’s internalized racism.
2. The Bluest Eye is also a narrative of black migration to the North. What problems do black migrants encounter when they leave their homes and settle in places like Lorain?
3. Claudia serves as the narrator of The Bluest Eye. Her anger seems to give her a strategy to fend off the messages Pecola succumbs to. How does anger act as a strategy of resistance in the novel?
4. How do the McTeers act as a foil for the Breedloves in the novel?
• Type papers in Times New Roman 12-pt font
• Double-space everything
• One inch margins all the way around
• Proper MLA heading
• A title
• Page numbers on each page
• 5 pages
• 3 sources
Instructions for Incorporating Quotes into Your Discussion:
Choose quotes from the reading that support your argument. Decide where the discussion of the quotes should be placed in your paper. Integrate the quotes with your discussion for cohesion and unity. Quotes cannot stand alone.
A. Your topic sentence should open every paragraph after the introduction. Remember that a strong topic sentence supports your thesis statement and makes a claim of its own. Support your topic sentences with evidence and explanation from the novel.
B. Introduce any quotes you use. For example, where in the text does it occur? Who is speaking? What should the reader be looking for in the quote?
C. Provide the quote. Make sure you type it exactly as it appears in the text.
D. Translate the quote. Write what you think the quote actually says. Pretend it is a different language and you have to translate it for me. Tell me how you understand, or read, that quote.
E. Explain the quote’s significance to the text. How does it fit into the story? What function does it play in the story? How is it connected to the meaning of the story?
F. Explain the quote’s relationship to your overall idea/argument/main point about the text. Bring the reader back to your argument. Why did you select this quote to support your argument? How does it support your argument?
Checklist for Final Paper:
1. Does your paper focus on one topic/position? Do you have a thesis statement/argument?
2. Do you support your position with at least three quotes?
3. Do you introduce and explain your quotes?
4. Do you cite and punctuate your quotes correctly?
5. Is your position prevalent in the paper, using the quotes as support only? Do you avoid summary?
6. Did you revise, edit, and proofread for grammatical and mechanical errors?
7. Do your sentences follow one another in a logical/readable way? Do your paragraphs make sense together and are they in a logical/readable order?
8. Is your paper at least 5 pages? Does it fully cover your topic?