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Can you help me choose a nice topic for my mid-term and final research paper for...

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adesanmi | eNoter

Posted September 7, 2011 at 9:02 AM via web

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Can you help me choose a nice topic for my mid-term and final research paper for English 101?

Can you help me choose a nice topic for my mid-term and final research paper for English 101?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 7, 2011 at 9:18 AM (Answer #2)

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The topic of your mid-term and research final depend wholly upon what you have studied over the semester. Therefore, the ideas I am providing are very general ideas which can be used when looking at many different texts and genres typically examined in an English 101 class.

1. One of the most common literary devices used in literature is symbolism. Examine the use of symbolism in the texts read over the course of the semester.

2. Examine the characteristics of a period piece (Romantic, Age of Reason, etc). How does the text exemplify the a work typical of the period regarding its use of characteristics, themes, and ideology.

3. The point-of-view, or narrative voice, in a text is very important. Find two texts that examine similar themes but have different points-of-view and discuss the differing impacts each have based upon their narration.

4. Many texts examine the journey of the protagonist. Discuss the journey of a protagonist throughout a novel. What journey did the protagonist embark upon? Was it a physical journey that helped the protagonist to grow physically? Was the journey a mental one which allowed the protagonist to grow mentally?

5. Discuss the use of direct and indirect characterization in a text. How does the use of indirect characterization help or hurt a text from your point-of-view?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 7, 2011 at 8:25 PM (Answer #3)

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In addition to the number of excellent suggestions made in #2, I would very strongly suggest that you pick a topic that you are passionate about and interested in. It is so important that you are engaged in the topic for such a big assignment, as if you have to do one that does not engage you it can be incredibly painful! So, what interests you? What have you enjoyed from your course? That will help you select a topic.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 7, 2011 at 10:41 PM (Answer #4)

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It would be very helpful if you could tell us more about the details of your assignment.  What, specifically, are you being asked to do?  Is it a research paper on literature (as Post #2 believes) or can it be on any topic whatsoever (in case the point of the paper is simply to learn how to write)?  If it is a literary paper, what texts have you studied in this course?  If you can give us this information, we'd be much more likely to be able to help you.

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 7, 2011 at 11:55 PM (Answer #5)

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Usually English 101 research papers cover either a text from the syllabus or a text related to but not on the syllabus. In the first case, you might choose something you really liked and delve deeply into what critical opinion says or what the author's life was like or what the historical context of the author's era was. On the other hand, you might attempt to unravel a controversy: e.g., Was Henry James truly only so much empty eggshell on an overlit alter? In the second case, you might read something you think you won't like and give a critical opinion on it: It is in fact terrible and here's why or here is why it is surprisingly not terrible.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted September 7, 2011 at 11:56 PM (Answer #6)

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I would advice you to pick something that you already know a little about.  It will be easier to find relevant information if you know a little about what to look for.  With that said, I would also suggest picking a topic that you are not completely knowledgeable on.  It can get incredibly boring learning about something you already know.  It is also frustrating to have to find references for information that you already know.  Pick something relevant to the course that has interested you.  As previous pointed out, research is much more interesting if you care about the subject.  It will keep your writing interesting and inviting rather than dull.  An interest in the topic will prevent your paper from being a monochromatic recitation of facts.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted September 9, 2011 at 11:01 PM (Answer #7)

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I  agree with all the above posts in that it is important to pick a topic that you have a genuine interest in. If you can do that it will be easier to find your voice and to have it show through in your writing.

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:14 PM (Answer #8)

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Sometimes in English 101, the topics assigned are not literary, since 101 often emphasizes description, narration, and exposition (explaining) more than argumentation, analysis, or persuasion. If that's the situation in your case, you may want to consider writing a paper on something significant that happened during the year in which you were born, or even on the day on which you were born. You will find a suprising amount of information (especially if you consult www.archive.org and also a good "yearbook" for the given year, such as the "yearbooks" produced by the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Good luck!

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 20, 2011 at 11:15 PM (Answer #9)

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Sometimes in English 101, the topics assigned are not literary, since 101 often emphasizes description, narration, and exposition (explaining) more than argumentation, analysis, or persuasion. If that's the situation in your case, you may want to consider writing a paper on something significant that happened during the year in which you were born, or even on the day on which you were born. You will find a suprising amount of information (especially if you consult www.archive.org and also a good "yearbook" for the given year, such as the "yearbooks" produced by the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Good luck!

I agree.  In my experience, English 101 is not a literature based class, but rather, an "intro to writing" class.  In this case, it seems you could probably write an argumentative essay about a topic of your choosing.  If this is the case, my best advice is to pick a topic that is interesting, not over-used, and has plenty of current and published research to use as sources for your argument.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:03 AM (Answer #10)

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This sounds rather open ended.  Does the class have a theme or genre attached to it?  What works have you read?  One thing you can do is consider a common link between the works and maybe a thematic connection.

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