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CLOSE READING RESEARCH ESSAY TOPICS (30%)

For this essay, you will be required to provide a close, detailed and persuasive reading of an aspect of one of the course texts. The required length for the paper is 750-1000 words. Please stay as close as possible to that word count; 50 words under or over is acceptable, but if you find yourself below 700 words or above 1050, you will need to edit your paper as appropriate. The paper must have a title, be double-spaced, and must indicate (by number) which topic you have chosen on both the first page of the paper, and in the file name. Include your name, your instructor’s name, your course number (including section), and the assignment due date at the beginning of your essay. You will be required to use proper MLA format for in-text quotations and selections from the works that you analyze, and from all scholarly texts you consult. You will also be required to provide a Works Cited page in MLA format. The Broadview Pocket Guide to Writing, your course-recommended text, is a good resource for guidance in MLA formatting.

You will be submitting via the dropbox function on our D2L course website. Log in and go to the Assessment section, and from there, to the Dropbox. There will be a folder labelled “Research Essay” into which you can upload your essay. While you have the option to upload your essay more than once (in the case of last-minute revisions), only the most recent file will be graded. Please label your file in the following manner: Include your chosen topic number, last name, and the assignment name. Example (if your last name was Wolf): Topic1-Wolf-ResearchEssay.docx. All submissions should be in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format.

As this is a formal essay, your paper will be structured to include a strong introduction ? in which you lay out your thesis and provide an overview of your analysis ? and conclusion ? in which you will summarize your key points, and come to a decisive conclusion which supports your thesis. In addition to providing a detailed reading of your assigned works, you will be required to incorporate two literary critics’ analyses. These critical works must be from peer-reviewed academic journals, articles in essay collections, chapters from scholarly books, or dissertations or theses, and they must address your chosen texts (i.e. they must directly discuss the works you are analysing, or the topic you are considering). These academic sources must be literary criticism; secondary sources from other disciplines are not acceptable for this assignment. (Additionally, note that academic book reviews are not useful secondary sources for this assignment.)

You will be assessed for your ability to read closely and carefully, to organize your ideas around a central argument/thesis, to integrate your chosen critics’ analyses, and to argue your position convincingly. Your paper will also be assessed for grammar, sentence structure, word choice, paragraphing, and overall organization of ideas. While you are encouraged to consult and integrate the critical texts we have discussed in class, these selections do not count towards your minimum required two scholarly secondary sources.

Evaluation:
Papers receiving grades of A- or above are significantly above average in these areas: grammar/punctuation, organization, argument, ideas, supporting details and engagement with secondary/scholarly sources.
Papers receiving grades of B- to B+ are above average in the same areas.
Papers receiving grades of C- to C+ are average in these same areas.
Papers receiving grades of D to D+ are below average in these same areas.
Papers receiving grades of F are incomplete or have failed to meet the basic requirements of the assignment.

Due Date: 11:59pm, Tuesday, April 12.

Topics (Choose ONE):

1. In Reading Children’s Literature, Carrie Hintz and Eric L. Tribunella explain that while some fantasies “provide opportunities to vicariously escape from responsibility…fantasy characters just as often have to take on leadership roles in fighting ‘real world’ struggles and/or problems within their fantasy worlds” (365). Discuss the role of reality in Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, or fantasy in Tess Sharpe’s Far from You. Choose one of the following two approaches, depending on your chosen text:
a.) The Last Unicorn: Does the high fantasy setting and narrative facilitate engagement with children’s real world struggles or problems? How? Consider whether characters must accept or reject leadership roles/more responsibility over the course of the story, and what effect that has on their connection to the world around them. Is the fantasy genre an appropriate venue for exploration of realistic themes when writing for children? Why or why not?

b.) Far from You: Does the New Realist setting and narrative facilitate escape from children’s real world struggles or problems? How? Consider whether characters must accept or reject leadership roles/more responsibility over the course of the story, and what effect that has on their connection to the world around them. Is the New Realist genre an appropriate venue for exploration of fantastical themes when writing for children? Why or why not?
Choose 1-2 scenes to discuss in detail. Refer to specific characters, lines, and scenes that best support your argument. You must integrate a minimum of TWO critical sources into your paper to support your analysis.

2. As Carrie Hintz and Eric L. Tribunella note in Reading Children’s Literature,
sexuality permeates both childhood and children’s culture. While children’s sexualities might sometimes resemble adult sexualities, they might also be different in important ways that sometimes render them invisible, or nearly so, to adults. Sexuality involves a range of possible desires, pleasures, acts, and identities…[T]here are many other qualities besides sex/gender that could have emerged as the basis of sexual classification. (453)
Discuss the role of sexuality in either Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. or Tess Sharpe’s Far from You. What type(s) of sexual identity and/or performance are present in the text, and how does the novel support or reject these categories? Consider how the story frames the characteristics of and relationships between the characters, and whether those qualities are linked to sexual identity, either in forms that resembles adult sexualities, or in different, more child-based ways. What commentary is the narrative making regarding children’s sexuality, especially in relation to the identities and behaviours of children? Choose 1-2 scenes to discuss in detail. Refer to specific characters, lines, and scenes that best support your argument. You must integrate a minimum of TWO critical sources into your paper to support your analysis.

*****ell

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