English 563 Eighteenth-Century British Novel Spring 2012
Dr. Morillo

Final Research Paper : Due exam week, TBA


12-15 pages exclusive of Works Cited.
Paper must have a title and a Works Cited section

You will develop your proposal's research question into a paper engaged with some idea(s) from Nixon's Novel Definitions anthology about the novel, and workable in 12-15 pages. 

This final paper will be on a novel or novels or novelist(s) of your choice, but will require that you formulate a thesis. Your choice of topic largely determines what kind of secondary sources you may need to situate and depend your argument. A paper of this kind is still rather short, so it must be selective and focused. It  is only long enough to make a limited number of claims backed by sufficient evidence, and it is about half the length of the manuscript of a typical published essay.
This paper is therefore closer to the territory of the conference paper to read aloud and  closer to an academic writing genre in which you make one good point. One good point can be rich and absorbing, and the significance of an idea is not a function of how big it is, but instead how sharp it is. No matter how much or little you turn to the ongoing critical conversations about 18th-century texts and contexts, be sure that your own voice, staking and defending your claims, is the dominant one.

Give yourself enough time revise and redraft ideas, and to proof your work with your eyes and brain, not just your spellchecker. As the key work in a professional program your papers are the main evidence for your professional skills, so show that you care about your work. The clearest mark of academic written work that is becoming professional is a correct and accurate bibliography and proper citation form in the text (MLA for this paper).

It is highly unlikely that your idea will be so blazingly original that nothing else is published on or close to it. Aim instead to complement and perhaps challenge the current state of knowledge by being informed enough by the thoughts of others while developing a sense of your own voice and style and its place in ongoing  collective debates about historical texts and contexts.

Argument Advice

Since you are writing neither simple summary nor mere description, you will need to propose a specific thesis that is the kind of interesting idea someone could possibly disagree with--something worth arguing and requiring some evidence to be convincing.  I expect a well-stated thesis in the introduction, so you need to have figured out what you've concluded about your topic in order to write the most effective introduction and thesis. So count on revising and rewriting. Very often you'll find that in an early draft your conclusion makes the best material for a stronger introduction in the next draft, because the draft conclusion tends to be more specific and better frames what you have in fact argued throughout the text. The more effective your introduction and thesis, the more time/space you'll have to explain, illustrate, and elaborate the points in your argument. Assume that your audience is less interested in slowly discovering what you have to say and more interested in seeing how you defend and argue for what you've already stated in summary in your thesis.


Return to English 563 Syllabus