LITR 5731
Seminar in Multicultural Literature: American Minority

Research Option:

1 research essay


Research Project due 1 December

Length: 12-20 pages; Weight: 35-40% of final grade.

The paper's assigned length is the equivalent 12 to 20 pages, double-spaced—though it need not be double-spaced when you submit it.  Follow MLA documentation style. You are required to refer to at least three critical, theoretical, or historical (i. e., secondary) sources.  Your paper should center on one or two "primary texts"; usually the primary texts are drawn from the course’s readings, but you may propose an outside text. If you use more than one primary text, you do not have to treat them in perfect balance—that is, you might develop your ideas more from one than from another, using the second text mostly for contrast or relief. The topic is your choice but must have a direct relevance to the course (see below). Texts may be chosen from within or beyond the course readings, but if all the texts are from outside the course, their relevance should be clear.


Essay Topics: In choosing and developing a topic, students generally start either with a text or with an idea.

If you find yourself interested in a text but aren't sure how to develop a topic from it, try isolating a problem or issue for minorities or for American culture or literature that the text explores. This problem or issue may be cultural or literary.

  • How is the problem or issue expressed, and in what ways do the text and/or its characters attempt to resolve it, and with what success?

  • What insight into American culture and literature does the text develop?

  • For secondary sources, try to find criticism of the particular texts involved so that you can build on ideas previously established.

            If you are starting with an idea, you may want to find a theoretical text that deals with the idea for the sake of development. Then find texts in or beyond the course that develop the idea.

            As another subject option, review the course objectives. You are not expected to duplicate ideas developed in lecture and discussion as you would for an exam, but you may use them as background or as launching points.

            In some cases students may continue to develop the topics they began in the midterm. The central ideas are expected to demonstrate further development and research.

            For examples of previous research topics, review the Model Assignments on the course webpage.