This week you will submit your final research paper on Fences
ENGL 1020 Research-Supported Essay on Fences
Objective : This essay will be a thesis-driven, research-supported essay on the play Fences . Your purpose is to make an original argument and support it with evidence from the play as well as scholastic research sources.
Your intended audience is an academic one; therefore, tone, language and style should be appropriate for an academic audience.
Format: Paper should be formatted according to MLA: Double-spaced and indented paragraphs; standard font (Times New Roman); standard print size (12), standard margins (1”). Give essay a unique title. Follow the MLA paper formatting for name, date, class info placement and so forth.
Length: Minimum length requirement is six pages. Maximum length is 8 pages. The Works Cited page does not count towards page count. If you feel you need to go beyond this maximum, you may do so but only if it enriches the analysis.
Due date: August 2. No late essays accepted.
Weight towards final grade: 25%
Please choose one of the following topic ideas and develop a thesis (in your own words) and subsequent analytical essay supporting that thesis. You may tweak these ideas to suit your own ambition. If you would like to develop your own topic/thesis concerning this play (that is not part of this list), you must email professor for approval.
1. Character Arc: How does Troy's character change over the course of the play? Create an essay where you trace and discuss the complete character arc of Troy Maxson. Consider how he is initially portrayed, how he views and treats others, his ambitions, and his world view. Also consider what factors and/or influences in his life shape his current character. In your conclusion, discuss whether Troy is a modern tragic hero—someone whose intentions are good but is flawed.
2. Fathers and Sons: Analyze the relationship and conflicts between Troy and Cory. Go beyond just “retelling the plot.” Analyze why these conflicts are occurring. Reach inside the characters of Troy and Cory to tap into their motivation and behavior based on generational differences, Troy’s parenting style, and historical context. Discuss in your conclusion whether a resolution is reached. In other words, can Troy still be forgiven? Note: If you would like to include Troy’s relationship with Lyons, you may do so.
3. What about Gabriel? Gabe cannot be easily dismissed as just a “kooky” minor character. He seems to be quite important to the play (especially his actions at the end) and appears in pivotal scenes. What is his function? Analyze certain scenes in which he appears and how he affects Troy and others. What is his spiritual/religious significance?
4. Historical context: Create an essay in which you explore the late 40’s and 50’s in terms of world events, particular the sports color barrier and racial issues that affected and influenced August Wilson. While reading Fences, it is important to look at the year 1957 (in which the play took place.) Trace and comment upon pivotal events that you think influenced Wilson and his creation of the play and how these events of the past affect Troy. Your research can also go back to the Negro Leagues as this would certainly be relevant to Troy’s character and his athletic aspirations and challenges. Were Troy’s fears/concerns for Cory valid worries of his time?
5. Professor William Cook, who teaches at Dartmouth, lectures and writes extensively on August Wilson and his work. He has talked a great deal on what he calls the “confessional duologue”—a “dialogue of personal encounter whereby characters compel certain self-disclosures from one another through interlinked session of talk.” Characters are “forced to speak what is dreaded to confront the ghosts they have refused to acknowledge” (Cook). How does this relate to Rose? According to Cook, it seems as if she is an “example of a person forced to confess her troubles with her life after years of keeping her frustrations bottled up inside her” (Cook). Create an essay in which you analyze the complex character arc of Rose which would include a discussion of this “confession.” Discuss how she could be said to grow from a submissive victim of historical context to a stronger heroine by the play’s end.
6. Discuss the significance of the title, Fences, as it relates to characters and themes of the play. In other words, there is a literal meaning (the actual building of the fence) and figurative/metaphorical meanings.
7. In many American plays, blacks play only minor roles or are only mentioned in passing by the main characters. Wilson reverses this by only referring to white characters but never having them appear on stage. What effect does this have on the play? How does their absence and presence inform the characters' world?
Would the play be more effective or less effective if the white characters mentioned in the play were more present? Provide textual evidence to support your answer.
9. Analyze how the sport of baseball and the personification of Death and the Devil are used within the play to enrich the complex characterization of Troy. (Please note that you can also opt to just choose to analyze the role of baseball or construct an essay analyzing the personification of Death and the Devil).
Strategies for the essay
The essay should have the following elements:
· an engaging introductory paragraph. You might even want to cite a quote in the opening paragraph to make your opening engaging to the reader.
· an effective and clear thesis statement, ideally, at the end of your introductory paragraph. Remember that thesis statements can be 1-3 sentences in length, can be explicitly or implicitly stated, and should clearly indicate the main idea(s) of the analysis of your work. In other words, the thesis should not merely be a recitation of plot; rather, it should indicate what ideas will be analyzed. Please do not use first person ("I" or "me") and avoid the announcement tone–i.e. "This essay will show.."
Here’s a hypothetical example (using another play by Wilson): In Two Trains Running, by August Wilson, powerful imagery demonstrates the function of black music as both cultural resource and economic commodity. This emphasizes Wilson’s response to the chaotic fragmentation of African American communities in 1969.
· a statement of background on the topic, if necessary. For example, you may want to provide historical background on your topic, if needed.
· unified, supported, and coherent body paragraphs that defend the thesis
· research sources integrated into the essay that support the arguments you make in the paper. A balance of paraphrases and direct quotes from these sources should be smoothly integrated within the essay with the use of signal phrases. All paraphrases and quotes from sources should be followed with parenthetical citations according to MLA style of documentation. Along with your research sources, use selected lines from the play to support your essay.
· an effective, satisfying conclusion that emphasizes thesis, highlights key points, and reflects upon theme as a result of your analysis.
· a Works Cited page that lists the sources cited. The references should be listed in MLA format. You should have three research sources listed, along with your primary source (your play within our textbook), totaling four entries.
The sources and citation format for this essay: You are required to use at least three academic sources for this essay. You may integrate additional sources if needed but the minimum is three. Two of these three sources must be acquired through the databases subscribed to by PGCC’s Information and Library Services (print or electronic).
You may not use the following Internet sources: Wikipedia, Schmoop, Sparknotes, Schmoop, GradeSaver, Bookrags. In general, do not use websites that offer “free essays” or “grading help” or that merely give plot summations.
Keep in mind that if the sources are scholarly, the argument you make in the paper will be more persuasive. For this reason, feel free to use all scholarly sources from the PGCC databases. SCROLL
Again, please feel free to cite more than three sources. You may find four sources are necessary to establish your argument and defend your thesis.
MLA documentation and Library Database Guidance:
*Research Sources should, ideally, focus on literary criticism of August Wilson and his play Fences as connects to your selected thesis. Avoid simply inserting biographical info of author—“Wilson was born here, went to school here” unless it is essential to supporting your thesis. For example, if your thesis is to show the character arc of the character of Rose, then your research should focus on her character, (and perhaps how others, like Troy, interact with her), Wilson’s views on presenting female characters, historical context and how it affects gender roles, and the like. As mentioned, at least two of your research sources should come from PGCC’s academic databases on the library website. Click on the Library Resources link in our course menu. Once you click into the library, you will see “A-Z databases,” “Databases by Subject” and other Resources. There is also a helpful research tutorial as well as a space to chat with a librarian.
It is suggested that you start by accessing Gale Literature which combines three fine databases, Literature Resource Center, Literary Criticism Online, and About the Author. You may also peruse other databases as well (such as Bloom’s Literature, Academic OneFile, ProQuest, African American History Online, Drama Collection, Gale Virtual Reference Library, etc.) but Gale is a good place to start.
For any remaining sources accessed through the open Web:
*As discussed, you may not use Spark Notes, enotes, any grade “saver” websites, Schmoop, or Wikipedia. For a valid open web source, generally URLs with .org, .gov. and .edu will be legitimate. For a “dot.com” source, just evaluate it for validity. Look for credentials of author and/or sponsoring organization of the source/article, publication date, language used, etc. Online newspapers and journals are also good places to search on Google.
How to format in-text citations from your play Fences: When citing from the text of the play, please include act, scene, and page number(s) after your direct quote or paraphrase from the text. i.e. (2. 3. 1358). This indicates that the quote or paraphrase is from Act 2, Scene 3, page 1358.
Follow MLA style of documentation for all in-text citations of outside research sources. Your Works Cited page as well as your in-text citations (parenthetical citations that occur after your quotes or paraphrases within the text of your essay), should be in the updated MLA style. The Works Cited should include your primary source which is the play within your textbook, and your selected three (or more) research sources (total of four sources). As this is a second-level English course, it is assumed that you already have learned this style in your EGL 1010 course. You may also consult a good college writer’s handbook that has the updated MLA documentation style. Papers that do not have the two elements of MLA—parenthetical documentation within the text of your essay after any paraphrases or direct quotes from research and a Works Cited page will not be accepted. There is also a sample research paper in Module 8 as well as MLA supplements in Module 9.
The rubric to be used for assessment is below:
RUBRIC for Research Paper on Fences / MLA
The rubric grade that is assigned is one that best corresponds with the quality of the submission.
In general, a solid “A” paper will receive a 95 (anything above a 95 is generally considered superior), an A- paper will receive a 93 and so forth. Percentages may be higher or lower depending on quality of content and mechanics.
Thesis and organization: Strong organizational model with effective thesis statement, topic sentences, and transitions; clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Content: a thoughtful, in-depth essay which addresses the analytical thesis/research strategy and is developed through skillful and varied diction; evidence and reasoning is sufficient and skillfully presented through a balance of paraphrases and direct quotes; signal phrases are evident to smoothly integrate research into body of essay. There is a balance of research and writer’s own commentary/analysis. Diction and tone: employs precise choices of vocabulary; tone demonstrates a high degree of audience awareness. Mechanics: sophisticated sentence structure, demonstrating a command of subordination and parallelism; contains very few (or no) errors, showing a mastery of the conventions of written English. Adheres to formatting: double-spaced indented paragraphs; word length is adhered to; direct quotations and paraphrases are documented properly according to MLA. Works Cited with required number of sources is attached and documented properly.
Thesis and organization: clear organizational model with effective thesis statement, topic sentences, and transitions; identifiable introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Some areas may need slight revision. Content: a good response which addresses the analytical thesis/research strategy and is developed through effective diction, although some areas may need more development; evidence and reasoning is generally effective and presented through a balance of paraphrases and direct quotes; signal phrases are evident but may be inconsistent. Slightly more commentary/analysis from writer may be needed to balance research.
Diction and tone: employs a good vocabulary which may be less precise than a superior paper but are still appropriate; tone demonstrates audience awareness. Mechanics: while sentence structure may be less sophisticated than a superior paper, it is still effective; may contain a few agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization errors, but overall observes the conventions of written English. Adheres to formatting: double-spaced indented paragraphs; word length is adhered to; direct quotations and paraphrases from research are, overall, well integrated, but may be inconsistent in terms of signal phrases or documentation. Works Cited with required number of sources is attached but may need slight refinement.
Thesis and organization: essay follows basic principles of organization, but thesis statement may be ineffective, topic sentences may be inconsistent, and transitions may be weak; some paragraphs may lack unity and organizational pattern may be inconsistent. Content: a satisfactory response which addresses the analytical thesis/research strategy; evidence and reasoning is, for the most part, competently integrated although the inclusion of some diction and research may be awkward, may lack relevance or may be repetitive. Some points in body of essay may lack development and support. Diction and tone: employs generalized vocabulary which may be less precise than a strong paper; audience awareness may be weak. Mechanics: sentence structure is adequate, but may be noticeably simpler than in the categories above; contains minor errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization—some of which may be distracting. Adherence to formatting may be inconsistent and MLA documentation needs marked revision (or may be lacking/inconsistent). Number of required sources may not be met.
Thesis and organization: essay may have significant problems with thesis statement and organization, topic sentences, and transitions; coherence may be weak Content: the response makes a weak attempt to address the analytical thesis/research strategy though some parts may not correspond; use of varied diction and integrated evidence from research may be weak, repetitive and lack development and proper integration into text of essay through the use of signal phrases. There is a considerable lack of original commentary/analysis from the writer. Diction and tone: vocabulary is too general and vague; may have some usage errors; may lack audience awareness. Mechanics: sentence structure is often awkward; may lack subordination and parallelism; contains enough errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization to be distracting. Adherence to formatting may be inconsistent. MLA documentation needs marked improvement (or may be lacking/inconsistent). Number of sources may not be met.
Thesis and organization: essay is disorganized; may lack or have inappropriate thesis statement, topic sentences, and transitions. Content: fails to address the analytical thesis/research strategy ; may lack varied diction and integrated research; may be too brief. Diction and tone: vocabulary is very basic; may use words inappropriately; lacks audience awareness. Mechanics: sentence structures are overly simple or have confusing structure with excessive coordination; contains many distracting errors in agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization; meaning may be difficult to determine. Adherence to formatting may be inconsistent or lacking. MLA either requires extensive revision or may be lacking.
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