Final Research Essay
TOPIC: What’s the real story behind Vlad Dracula, the historical prince for whom the book is named?
**Annotated bibliography and proposal is attached to help assist you**
Goals: to demonstrate: 1) the ability to conduct responsible research, 2) the ability to cite sources appropriately, and 3) the ability to integrate researched information with your own ideas and commentary. Ten sources minimum.
This essay is to be 10-15 pages. It is worth 30% of your overall course grade.
You will create an essay of 10-15 pages (no more), complete with at least 10 sources.
Three or more of these sources must be published nonfiction books, available in physical form, and created by scholarly authors.
Five total sources must be scholarly/nonfiction/criticism.
Other sources may include magazine or newspaper articles, documentary films, websites, interviews, live presentations and performances, speeches, myths and legends, works of literature, pop culture texts, etc. Please remember that anything sourced from a holy book is to be presented as literature, and not as instructions for living or undeniably accurate history. Children’s literature and other pop culture works will not count towards your three book minimum.
Begin by researching a topic rather than forming a thesis. Many of you, probably most, will not know your ultimate thesis when you begin researching. This is one of the freedoms of a research paper: you start by exploring, then you figure out what you want to say about the things you’ve learned. Start with curiosity and enjoy the processâ€”you may be very surprised by what you discover.
Have fun with this assignment. Pick a topic that interests you! Anything related to our course focus is acceptable (and feel free to go beyond film and literature). As with your previous essays, do not bend the class topic too far. Related topics I’ve seen which I believe are directly related to monstrosity: phobias, cannibalism, torture, murder, human trafficking and slavery, sexual “deviance,” etc. As always, fear must be distinct a factor. Do not write about a topic such as same-sex marriage (or, heaven help you, about Macklemore) simply because LGBT people are treated as “different” and “othered.” That’s not enough; we need to see some real monstrosity in here.
Always remember: a research paper should consist of no more than 20% quoted material. The essay may contain up to 50% sourced material (including quoted and paraphrased). The other half of the essay is created from your ideas, comments, and insights into this subject and what others have said about it. Instead of setting out to prove something, think of yourself as joining a conversation/discussion about this topic, conducted through your sources. You are bringing together experts’ and casual fans’ knowledge and commentary and joining the conversation with your own insights. See whose ideas you can find to agree with you and which sources disagree with your opinions. Your sources should elevate, enliven, and illuminate this subject, rather than simply talk about it in terms of obvious facts, likes, and dislikes. We’ll discuss the evaluation of sources in more detail as the quarter goes on.
Some optional questions you may wish to consider:
*What is unclear, unconfirmed, or absent from a certain monster text, and how can you use what is there to draw conclusions?
*What metaphors are present? What is symbolic? Are you reminded of anything?
*How does a certain monster, story, or text reflect the culture (time, geography, and social trends) in which it was created?
*If someone were to disagree with you, what evidence would they have that you’re wrong or inaccurate? Can you refute this evidence to reinforce your argument?
As you write and revise your drafts, work on finding the balance between your own style and voice and a formal, academic tone. Do not erase your own excitement, curiosity, or sense of humor from this essay, but aspire to a more formal tone that includes all of these aspects of your own style. You may write in first person, but limit this. Do not focus on personal experiences, but rather your ideas and analyses.
It can be difficult to maintain focus and organization in an essay this long. For this reason, you will have three drafts instead of two. Build your essay, change the order of your points, and let it evolve as it needs to. Your thesis may be located at any point within the first two pages or on the final page, but it must be placed logically in a way that helps make your point, and the thesis should be obvious and recognizable.
If you write about one of our texts from class (including Dracula and The Elephant Man), it can count as one of your sources, but the books won’t count towards your three book minimum (because they’re fiction, of course). Dictionaries do not count at all towards the minimum sources (although they should be cited if you quote from them), and neither does Wikipedia or any other wiki website. Wiki sites are an excellent starting point for research, but not a source by themselves.
It is essential that you demonstrate the ability to conduct research and cite it responsibly and accurately. If your final essay does not demonstrate these requirements, you will not pass the class.