I must start by saying im clueless when it comes to research papers. I am trying to write a research paper on "A Rose For Emily" and have narrowed my topics down to a couple things: effects of insanity, death, or over protective parents. Im not sure which topic to use, how to really start the paper or what good examples are of these topics. I seem to be able to come up with one example of each but i trying to get three examples of each. Im not too familar with research papers so i dont know if i can use all three topics or not....or maybe a way i can wrap all three topics in to one..... Oh and do i HAVE to use resources, besides the book?
Sad i know, College will be the death of me. Please help!
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You may want to ask for clarification on the assignment in terms of what type of outside resources you will need. Can you compare this story to another or should you focus solely on "A Rose for Emily"? If you need to focus on the specific story at hand, there are still plenty of resources. You will want to find analysis of the story that support your view point. You may want to consider other ideas as well. With this story, you might look at the shelter life of Emily rather than her insanity. You could look at the situation with the taxes or Emily's reaction to her fiance wishing to leave her. Is Emily really insane or is she simply ill equipped to handle life on her own?
It will be important for you to reveiw the topic of your research paper and make sure your chosen thesis is on task. Rarely will a professor ask for a paper on a story without offering some direction for the paper's topic.
If you are not completely satisfied with the topics you are thinking about, which it sounds as though you aren't, you might want to research the era in which the book takes place, focusing on how the Civil War affected Southerners, socially and economically. The story's time and place are very much of the post-war era, and it might be interesting to learn more about that era. In fact, many issues that emerged after the Civil War continue to plague us to this day.
Certainly, for a research paper, you are expected to have sources beyond the story that is your focus. Otherwise, it would not be a research paper at all, but a literary analysis. I agree with the others who responded, that your professor should be providing you with clear guidelines and support as you write your first research paper. Some professors will, for example, state that you are expected to use some minimum number of outside sources for a paper. You should also have had some classroom time learning how to use MLA (used in most English courses) to provide documentation for your sources, which is a crucial part of every research paper.
First of all, I doubt that college will be the death of you, because you sound intelligent and articulate and you can write clearly and with grammatical correctness. All these traits, by the way, should also help you with your work on your research paper.
Are you allowed to do a comparison and contrast paper? For example, can you compare and contrast this story to another one by Faulkner or to a story by a different author? Comparison and contrast papers can really be helpful in encouraging students to dig into some analytical detail; it's much easier to see the traits of one thing when we compare and contrast that thing to something else.
You may also want to consult a good annotated bibliography of Faulkner criticism and/or a seek out a good overview of the work that has already been done on this story.
A book I would highly recommend is A Reader's Guide to the Short Stories of William Faulkner, by Diane Brown Jones (1994), which is a bit out of date but still immensely valuable.
I agree with litteacher8 and would add that part of the point of assigning a research paper is to teach you how to do it. Your professor will help you.
If you are hesitant to approach the professor for more guidance right away, you might try to make a list, for each topic, filling out these categories:
- Examples of other stories or ideas matching each topic. These don't have to be good examples, but just something to get you thinking on the right lines.
- Resources (books, websites, magazines, movies, poems, etc.) related to the topic where you might look for more information.
- 2 friend's responses to the question: Which topic would you choose and why?
Take a look at the lists you've made and see if they lead you to a choice of topics. With a better idea of what you want to write about, it may be easier to go to your professor for help in how to write the paper.
This paper won't kill you. If you take it one step at a time, you'll be fine.
It sounds like you need some more guidance from your instructor. My suggestion is to make an office appointment, and explain that you are confused about the requirements. If you are polite and respectful, most instructors and professors will be happy to sit down and explain things.
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