Common Theme Throughout Jane Austen Novels Assignments | Get Paper Help
Think about this project as preparing to write a lengthy essay, such as an Honors thesis, on a topic you’ve developed in this course. In such a case, before even coming up with a way to organize your thoughts about such a writing project your first step would be to survey the literature. You would want to see what scholars have been discussing about this topic, and whether any articles or books address your topic, either broadly or along the lines of your
thinking. Then you need to assemble a likely list of articles and book chapters you might use for your essay; next you need to read the articles and book chapters* and assess them in terms of
your essay and thesis idea. For this project we are using secondary sources only, not primary sources such as Austen’s letters, biographies of her life, or even her novels. Your Annotated Bibliography will need a title that suggests the topic, and a 200+ -word paragraph at the beginning (before the bib) that describes your topic well enough that the bibliographic entries and annotations make sense. This bibliographic survey is the stage this project concentrates on, and it involves several elements.
A) The first is to decide what your topic is: will you focus on a theme in Austen’s novels, will you compare two novels from a certain perspective, will you consider Austen’s style, will you use a theoretical perspective (Lacan, feminist, materialist, etc)? These are just possible topics; you should spend a bit of time thinking about what has drawn your interest over the semester, and what you’d like to read more about. What is an annotated bibliography? 1) First of all, it’s a bibliography, organized according to the rules for bibliographic citation. Each bibliographic entry is followed by a summary, description or other annotation that treats the work represented by the entry. The annotation is intended to
make sense of each work’s inclusion in the bibliography toward a particular end (in this case, your hypothetical thesis project). 2a) The standard for English papers and articles is the MLA style. The Healey website can give you citation formats, but you should also know how to do this manually. 2b) For this project your annotation will be a 3-4 sentence explanation of i) why this article is pertinent to your topic, and ii) why you think it’s important to include. The article’s or book chapter’s thesis, summarized in your own words and not copied from the abstract or the article itself, should be included in either part of the annotation. 3) For this project you need between 6 and 8 sources. Choose the higher number if a couple of the sources are more general, the lower number if all the sources are clearly relevant to your topic.
B) On the Healey website do a search using the Databases page, and then choose the MLA database. This is the most comprehensive listing: relying on JSTOR, Expanded ASAP, Project MUSE, etc, means you’re limited to the articles in the journals those databases contain. So only use those resources to find articles and book chapters in addition to what the MLA database will give you. You will have to do an Advanced Search in order to make use of multiple search terms until you find articles that are treating the topic you’re interested in investigating.
C) Keep searching until you come up with enough sources that you could cull some out if they don’t address what you initially thought they would. If you find the articles/book chapters and your topic are not aligning very well, this is a hint that your topic is too broad, so consider how you can narrow it. If you’re finding far too many articles, this is a hint that your topic has been over-treated, and you need to go in a slightly different direction so that you’re exploring something with a possibility of shedding new light on Austen’s work. Again, you can narrow your topic, but you might also want to complicate it instead. A successful annotated bibliography is one that makes you or someone else want to read these articles and book chapters. This project should also make your reader want to read the thesis you hypothetically would then set out to write. In our English Honors seminar, and our MA program, we ask students to do an annotated bibliography before writing their thesis; the point is not only to prepare the student to write their long essay, but to help their thesis readers understand the project more thoroughly, and in what direction it will go. Think of this project as a longer version of what you normally do to write a research paper for a 400-level literature course, but with your own notes translated into a more extended explanation written for someone else of why this particular source, and what it will do for your topic.
(*By book chapter, I don’t mean a chapter in a single-authored book necessarily, although you can choose to include one; usually the term refers to an essay included in an edited volume of essays on a particular topic.)
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