Short Story Research Paper

Short Story Research Paper

 

Rough Draft Due:                 Thursday, November 12, 2020

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Final Draft Due:                    Sunday, November 15, 2020

 

Length:                                   At least 1,500 words, not including quotations or the works cited page.

 

Primary Sources:                   Only the short stories that are assigned for this class.  This means that the majority of the citations (and hence evidence) in the essay should come from these sources.

 

Secondary Sources:               At least three secondary sources.  Secondary sources are sources beyond just the literary work(s).  Please limit your search for secondary sources to the following:

  • articles from one of the college’s electronic databases, such as the Literature Resource Center, MagillOnLiterature Plus, Salem Literature, and Short Stories for Students
  • books from the college library (print and/or eBooks)
  • articles from scholarly online journals and websites if—and only if—they are linked through the course Blackboard site.

 

Formatting:                            MLA Style.  Please use 12-point Times New Roman font, and fully justify your paragraphs.

 

Documentation:                     MLA Style.  Please include both in-text citations and a works cited list.

 

Grading:                                 300 points.  22.5 percent of final grade.

 

Rubrics:                                  Maryland Standards for a “C” Paper

Rubric for Literature Essays

 

Academic Integrity:               Please write the “Code of Integrity Pledge” at the bottom of the last page of your essay, sign your name after it, and submit your essay to Turnitin.

 

Audience:                               Your professor, your classmates, as well as other professors and college students in the United States—but only those who have already read the literary work(s) that you are writing about and who therefore do not need a plot summary of the work(s)

 

Assignment:                           Select one of the following topics, and write an essay that convincingly responds to it:

 

A.        Gender

 

Write an essay arguing for what Alice Munro’s observations about gender are in “Boys and Girls.”

 

  • In “Boys and Girls,” the narrator gradually comes to realize the social constraints of being a female, especially by the end of the story.
  • Argue for what observations you believe Munro is making in the story about gender.
  • After your introduction, provide researched background information on how gender constraints affected the lives of women during the time the story was written.
  • Then, argue for what Munro’s observations on gender are by considering at least three of the following questions:
    • Does Munro believe that traditional gender roles can help people discover the life-path that is best for them, or does she believe that traditional gender roles can hinder their ability to define the kind of life-path that they really want to follow?
    • Does Munro think that people’s gender helps others see them for who they really are, or does she think that their gender can cause others to make assumptions about them that are incorrect—or even to diminish and discriminate against them?
    • Does Munro suggest that people should strive to adhere to traditional gender roles, or does she believe that people should be free to deviate from them?
    • Does Munro imply that gender roles are essential, or does she suggest that they are socially constructed?[1]

B.        Race and Class

 

Write an essay arguing for what Toni Cade Bambara’s observations about race and class are in “The Lesson.”

 

  • In “The Lesson,” the African-American narrator, Sylvia, and her friends confront the racial and economic inequality between themselves and the world of wealthy white people, especially when they visit the toy story FAO Schwartz.
  • Argue for what observations you believe Bambara is making in the story about race and class.
  • After your introduction, provide researched background information on how racial and economic inequality affected the lives of African Americans during the time the story was written.
  • Then, argue for what Bambara’s observations on race and class are by considering at least three of the following questions:
    • What does Bambara want to make readers aware of in terms of race and class?
    • What role does Bambara suggest that education has in making people aware of racial and class inequality?
    • What does Bambara suggest about people’s openness to discussing or confronting racial and class inequality, including among minorities themselves?
    • What is Bambara’s evaluation of America as a democracy, especially in light of racial and class inequality?
    • What does Bambara suggest should be done about racial and class inequality?

C.        Domestic Violence

 

Write an essay arguing for what Sandra Cisneros’s observations about domestic violence are in “Woman Hollering Creek.”

 

  • In “Woman Hollering Creek,” the protagonist, Cleófilas, comes to realize that her marriage will not resemble the romantic telenovelas that she had once watched, especially when she experiences domestic violence at the hands of her new husband.
  • Argue for what observations you believe Cisneros is making in the story about domestic violence.
  • After your introduction, provide researched background information on how domestic violence affects the lives of women.
  • Then, argue for what Cisneros’s observations on domestic violence are by considering at least three of the following questions:
    • What does Cisneros suggest about the role of popular culture (such as telenovelas) in shaping women’s acceptance of pain and abuse in relationships?
    • What does Cisneros imply about whether victims of domestic abuse realize that they are victims?
    • What does Cisneros say about whether domestic abuse is just a one-time event?
    • What does Cisneros suggest about the difficulty—and necessity—of women leaving abusive relationships?
    • Whom does Cisneros think abused women should turn to for help (especially in terms of gender)?
    • What does Cisneros suggest about the importance of personal and economic independence for women, especially in terms of avoiding and/or leaving abusive relationships?

 

 

 

D.        Homosexuality

 

Write an essay arguing for what Junot Diaz’s observations about homosexuality are in “Drown.”

 

  • In “Drown,” the narrator reflects on his relationship with Beto, who used to be his best friend but from whom he is now estranged—because of two previous sexual encounters between the two of them.
  • However, as Joseph Kelly notes in his introduction to the story, “according to Diaz, everyone shies away from the important themes in this story: machismo, masculinity, and homosexuality” (136).
  • Argue for what observations you believe Diaz is making in the story about homosexuality.
  • After your introduction, provide researched background information on how homosexuality—and especially homophobia—affect the lives of men, both gay and straight.
  • Then, argue for what Diaz’s observations on homosexuality are by considering at least three of the following questions:
    • What role does Diaz believe that homophobia plays in male bonding?
    • What role does Diaz believe that overt displays of heterosexuality play in male bonding?
    • What does Diaz say about whether straight men are able to be friends with gay men?
    • What is Diaz implying about the fluidity of sexual orientation?
    • What role does Diaz believe that society plays in the ability of gay men to be out?
    • How does Diaz believe that men try to compensate for a sexual orientation that is not 100% straight (whether real or perceived)?

 

  1. Exploitation and Its Impact: Native American Populations

 

Write an essay arguing for what Sherman Alexie suggests are the consequences of exploitation and stereotyping of Native Americans in “What You Pawn I Will Redeem.” Present what this writer shows about the ways in which exploitation and stereotyping impacts Native Americans.

 

  • In “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” an unnamed Native American narrator and his comrades go on a quest of sorts, seeking to raise enough money to redeem a Native costume from a pawn shop. As the narrator presents the events of the day, he shares family and American history, observations, personal beliefs, stereotypes, and attitudes about Native Americans with readers.
  • Argue for what the author wants readers to understand about the impact of exploitation, oppression, and negative stereotypes on especially Native Americans in the United States.
  • After your introduction, provide researched background information about the exploitation and oppression of Native American. Note, also, how stereotypes affect Native America populations. Include evidence about the quality of life common on reservations and in other areas where Native American communities exist. Research what social problems are prevalent in this group of people.
  • Then, argue for what Alexie’s observations or suggestions are about the prospects for success among members of this community. Include responses to the following questions:
  • What does Alexie suggest about how the historical exploitation of this group as well as stereotyping of it leads to or feeds into self-images that drive alcoholism, mental health problems, homelessness, and other social problems? In the story, how are we to understand why the protagonist drinks and behaves in other anti-social ways?
  • What does Alexie suggest about the capacity of Native Americans to meaningfully mold their own destinies as individuals and as a minority group—or as tribal members? Is it reasonable to hope that they can be successful? Is the protagonist successful in his quest? How is the reader to understand the ending of the story?
  • How is the reader to understand the method the protagonist uses to raise funds for the Native costume he wishes to redeem? Describe in your paper the sequence of these activities. (Do not simply summarize all plot details; rather characterize how the character goes about gathering funds for this purpose). Discuss to what degree there is a method and to what degree any meaningful attempt to fund raise is obstructed or thwarted by the protagonist’s alcoholism. How does the history of exploitation and the stereotyping experienced by this population feed into all of this?

 

 

 

 

[1] Essential means that gender roles are natural, inherent, and biologically determined:  that people are just born that way (and are abnormal if they aren’t); socially constructed means that gender roles are the product of social norms, rules, and customs:  that they can be (and sometimes should be) relaxed or changed.

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