English 102 Research Paper Topic

One sign of a paper that is not sufficiently developed is that it is organized by source rather than by the author's main ideas:

  1. Introduction
  2. First Source
  3. Second Source
  4. Third Source
  5. and so on

A well-developed research paper is organized point by point.

  • It is focused on your thesis.
  • It uses parts of the sources to support parts of the thesis.
  • It uses multiple sources in a single section, because it is drawing ideas and information from various places to support an original idea.
  • The same sources will be cited repeatedly in different sections, because different facts or ideas from those sources are relevant to different points you want to make.
  1. Introduction
    • Use a hook to get the reader's interest
    • State the question, with necessary background info
    • State your answer to the question (your thesis, the point you will try to prove)
  2. First major point to support the thesis
    • Here you might use part of Source #1 to provide statistics
    • Part of Source #2 to provide an interpretation of those statistics
    • Part of Source #3 to provide some other facts you need for this major point
    • You'll also add your own perspective, tying all these parts together into the single point you want to prove
  3. Second major point needed to support the thesis
    • Here you might use a different part of Source #2 to provide some other statistics
    • Part of Source #4 to provide some other facts
    • Part of Source #5 to provide an interpretation of those facts
    • Part of Source #1 to provide a different interpretation
    • Here too you'll tie all these parts together into the single point you want to prove

And so on for all the points you need to prove to prove the thesis. The Research paper focuses on your own thesis, and uses the sources as needed to provide support for the thesis.

A good rule of thumb: Most paragraphs in the Research paper should cite more than one source. If your paper typically cites only one source per paragraph, that’s a sign that the paper should be re-organized.

Think of a car engine: when we do critique (as in the Literature Review), we're not driving the car (what you do normally when you read). Instead, we're popping the hood and taking the engine apart to see how it's made and find the broken pieces. Now, with the final research paper, you've got ten or more engines in front of you, and you're pulling them apart, taking pieces from one and pieces from another and putting them together into a new engine, one you build yourself. Don't just present the reader with one engine and then another and then another. Build your own, single engine from the parts of the others.

English 102
Developing a Research Paper Topic
  • You must submit a topic for approval before submitting a paper. If your topic has not been approved by the final deadline, you will be unable to submit a research paper and you will fail the class.
  • Topics must be submitted in Blackboard and must include the specific aspect of the text(s) you will be discussing.
  • Once you submit a topic, you are bound to it.  Any changes in topic must be accompanied by a written explanation for the change.
    • Please also remember that you must submit a library assignment for the same topic as your research paper.
  • Topics cannot be changed after the final deadline. Papers written on topics other than the approved one will not be accepted and you will not receive credit for them.

General Topics to Consider for Frankenstein:
  • View/Treatment of Women
  • Justice
  • Family Relationships
  • The Sublime
  • Science vs. Nature
  • Solitude
  • "Bounds of Knowledge"
  • Doppelganger
  • Ambition
  • Duty: Creator to Creation/ Parent to Child
  • Responsibility to Self vs. Responsibility to Humanity
  • Appearance vs. Reality
  • Symbols/Images: Lightning/Ice/Tree/Worms
Potential questions to respond to (and potentially useful sources from the Norton edition):

1.  Explain the significance of the dream Victor has the night that he succeeds in bringing life to his creation. Explain the symbolism of the images involved  in terms of the themes presented in the work as a whole.  You should incorporate discussion of Victor's view of and relationship to Family, Women, and Sexuality in your discussion, using quotes from other parts of the novel to support your discussion. (Poovey, Winnett) (Helpful Link)

2.  The word "doppelganger" was used repeatedly in our discussion.  Explain the degree to which both Clerval and the Creature can be seen as doppelgangers for Victor, discussing such issues as relationship to Nature, relationship to Women, and view of Self in your discussion.  Be sure to include quotes from Victor that describe his view of the similarities between himself and each of the other two figures. (Levine, Gilbert & Gubar, Mellor)

3.  Describe the criminal justice system presented in this novel, using the three examples of William's murder, Clerval's murder, and Elizabeth's murder, as well as the official responses to these acts, in your discussion.  Is it a fair system? Do all crimes get investigated in the same way?  Do some people receive preferential treatment? If so, who? What characteristics determine the treatment the different suspects receive?  Incorporate your responses to these questions into a smooth discussion.  Do not just answer the questions in order.  Make sure to include quotes describing each of these situations. (Spivak, Veeder, Sayres , Vincent  )

4.  An important concept that we discussed was the relationship between appearance and reality. Describe what this relationship is, using the examples of three different characters, including Victor, the Creature, and one other figure.  Are these figures always "what they seem"? What factors contribute to the distinction between appearance and reality?  Incorporate your responses to these questions into a smooth discussion, using quotes to describe each of the three characters. (Lipking, Veeder)

5. Explain the similarities and differences with regards to the relationship between Victor and Elizabeth and Safie and Felix.  How does each man view his "partner"?  Look at passages on pages 19, 24, and 82-83, for some ideas.
(Winnett, Mellor)

6. Compare the relationships between Victor and his father and that between Victor and his creature.  What are the similarities and differences?  Some important quotes can be found  on page 21 and 24-25 and on pages 65-66.  You may also consider Victor's question to Clerval. "How could you suppose that my first thoughts would not fly towards those dear, dear friends whom I love, and who are so deserving of my love?" (38), in light of the fact that he is lying. (Lipking, Levine, Moers, Gilbert & Gubar, Butler)

7.  What are the similarities and differences involved in the comparison between the relationships involving Victor & Elizabeth and the Creature and his potential female mate?  How do Victor and the Creature view their "partners" and their future "married" lives?  Look specifically at the discussion between Victor and the Creature, esp. pages 98-100. (Mellor, Winnett)

8.  In what ways is Frankenstein a gothic novel?  Describe at least  three different characteristics of gothic literature that are exemplified by the novel, being sure to provide extensive examples from the novel to support your claims. (Moers, Gilbert & Gubar)

9. Why does the Creature frame Justine for the murder of William? What does this say about the way he has learned to view women?  What does this say about the criminal justice system and society in general? (Veeder, Mellor)

10.  What is the function of solitude in this novel?  Look specifically at Victor and the Creature.  Do they have the same view of solitude? Does it have the same effect on them? Explain. (Mellor, Poovey, Lipking)

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