Can anyone help me with choosing a topic for my final research paper in literature?I chose two topics but my professor said that I might struggle with finding sources, so what do you think a good...

Can anyone help me with choosing a topic for my final research paper in literature?

I chose two topics but my professor said that I might struggle with finding sources, so what do you think a good topic for a research paper about 20 pages(I should be original & creative) its for an advanced class.

Asked on by kgem

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

20 pages is easy (well, okay, maybe more doable than easy...) if you really get into the research and have access to a good library.

One thing that I like to do, once I've chosen the literary work or set of works that I want to focus on, is review the reception of those works over time. A librarian can show you where to go first, such as the Book Review Digest. You can collect as many book reviews as are available, read each carefully, and identify common concerns and reactions among the reviews. From there, you could maybe compare those treatments of the literary work(s) with later treatments.

Another possible, related approach is to collect all of the critical statements on the work(s) that you can find, read and compare them, and (again) identify common concerns and reactions.

A good number of pages in a 20-page paper can be used to walk through (i.e. summarize and selectively quote) the collection of reviews or critical statments. The main thing to be certain to do, if course, is to clearly discuss the patterns that you have identified. Don't allow the paper to become simply a collection of what other people have said.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Wow! Twenty pages is a fairly serious research paper. My first suggestion is to try and find a topic with which you are already somewhat familiar; I would not choose one that you know nothing about. This might also be a good time to choose a topic that you've always wanted to explore--that way, your interest will remain high. And, yes, you should make sure you have access to the necessary resource materials to supply you with your information. Hopefully, you have several large college libraries to utilize in addition to the ever-growing Internet info. 

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dlj21260 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

For your final paper you want to be creative and show your skills along with personal growth from this class. Pick a genre that you are passionate about. Then pick two or three of your favorite authors from that genre. Write a paper in which you compare and contrast their writing styles. Give specific examples listing their works to prove the points you want to make. Discuss in the paper what makes each author unique while also pointing out the similarities between the authors you have chosen. Maybe instead of picking a genre pick a subject you are passionate about such as racism and choose two or three authors that have written on that subject. Write a paper to compare and contrast the authors relating to how well the authors covered the subject. What makes their writing unique to them? Did they cover the topic completely, did they leave anything out? Was the research accurate? If that author was to go back and write a follow up on that topic what direction might they chose to go? Be creative on the spin you place on your paper to show your unique style. Be sure to cite the authors work with exact examples proving your theory about the authors.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

I meant moving on from an author you know.


(PS about 'The Homesteading Narrative' (Alaska ! Could be topical soon... as a child you may have known an example as Little House On The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder although of course there are grown up literature authors in this genre too.) For example, where it started, how it developed across the United States of America, how it relates to other works of American literature (Death Of a Salesman by Arthur Miller or Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck as the idea became fixed in the psyche of Americans...)

You could link it to history with The Pilgrim Fathers, Plymouth Rock,the Pioneers - there seems to be lots of material to work with there. You would put your own personality on it of course.


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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

This question needs to be on the discussion board for a wide variety of responses.

What genre or period of literature are you most interested in? Once you've determined that, is there a particular writer or piece of literature in that genre or period that you enjoy reading or have questions about?

What type of paper are you required to write: expository? persuasive? other? Knowing that will help to shape your topic. For instance, if you are a Shakespeare fan, you might consider how his character Richard III differs from the historical Richard III. If you are writing an expository essay, then you'll just give examples of where Shakespeare takes liberties with history. If you are writing a persuasive essay, you will need to take a side and argue your opinion about the use or misuse of historical fact in literature.

Or are there any mysteries or unanswered questions surrounding any writers that you might offer a solution to? For instance, what really happened when Agatha Christie disappeared for several days in the 1920s? How did Anne Perry overcome the horror of aiding in murdering her friend's mother? Why did TS Eliot lock his wife away in a mental asylum?

Above all, write about something that interests you. You can't be original and creative if you're subject bores you!

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Here are some suggestions:

1. Some of the most interesting topics are ones that are controversial. So, what topics in your field are controversial? You might want to start there and think things through.

2. An easy, but effective way to start is to read an article and write why you disagree or agree  with it. The article will be your first source, and the footnotes can be other sources. Finally, if that article is on a piece of literature, then that literature will be your primary source.

3. Another effective way to go about doing this is to take one footnote in a book and expand that idea. Usually scholars have interesting leads in footnotes.


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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Was there anything which intrigued you as an 'offshoot' idea you didn't have time to pursue while writing an essay for another topic? Are there any off-the-wall theories you have heard about that haven't been much followed-up. (I'm thinking here of theories such as the one that that Bramwell Bronte was the one who really wrote Wuthering Heights.) Yes, you do need to check out how rich the vein of sources is for this type of research before you start. It's a good idea to check out all resources - your college library, local library, specialist libraries to see what they have available. Which local experts live/work near your college - often they will be happy to give you time for an interview if its for a thesis. It is best though to work forward or sideways from a topic you have already covered in some depth. What are you curious about? Others might be curious about it too and interested to read what you have to say if it's well researched, sourced and cited/credited.

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chikazu | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

My idea for a good topic for a 20 page research paper might be something worldwide, like Global Warming or maybe Racism. If you do a topic on something that is global, or even just controversial, it should be easy to find information on it and be able to type 20 pages.

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kgem | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

We are not allowed to write about something we studied before, bcoz this might effect our way of reading,writing about the (work) :S

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