The qualities and/or characteristics of the Victorian, Modern, OR Post-Modern age.
Do not give a plot summary; this is not a book report. The author(s) and work(s) must be selected from those
we have read for this course. The topic must be one about which you have
not previously written. At least 4 secondary sources are required.
Select from the following essay prompts:
1. Analyze and evaluate the qualities and/or characteristics of the
Victorian, Modern, OR Post-Modern age. Refer to specific authors and/or
literary works to support your points.
?� Weak Topic: Addressing all of the qualities/characteristics of
a period with little to no focus on the literature and without a
specific or focused argument.
o Example: “The post-modern period focused on beliefs in nothing, a
world without absolutes, the disjointed nature of man, and doubt.”
?� Strong Topic: Selecting characteristics that are relevant to a
specific argument about the period and an author(s) and his/her work(s).
o Example: “Despite the post-modern emphasis on a belief in nothing and
a world without absolutes, “Church Going” affirms that people are
spiritually hungry and need to believe in something.”
o Example: Finding a connecting idea between a poem by Auden, Larkin,
and Thomas, such as faith, belief, an aspect of religion, etc.
2. Analyze the Romantics’ enthrallment with Medievalism. Select specific
works to illustrate the main ideas.
3. Discuss the theme of either earnestness or duty in the Victorian
literature assigned, focusing on specific Victorian works to illustrate
the main ideas.
4. Analyze the literary form of any work covered in this course.
?� Weak Topic: Incorrectly identifying the form of a work.
o Example: “’The Rape of the Lock’ is a play that mocks traditional epics.”
?� Strong Topic: Correctly identifying the form of a work and
creating a specific and valid argument about it.
o Example: “’The Rape of the Lock’ is a mock epic that relies on several
epic conventions, including an invocation of the muse, elevated
language, and supernatural creatures, to satirize the vanity of
o Example: Examining “Spring” by Gerard Manly Hopkins as an Italian sonnet.
5. Examine the allusions in Eliot’s poetry, focusing on “Journey of the
Magi” OR “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
?� Weak Topic: Attempting to address every allusion in both works
without narrowing the focus or making a unified argument about the works.
o Example: “T. S. Eliot uses allusions in ?�Journey of the Magi’
and ?�The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’.”
?� Strong Topic: Focusing on the allusions in one work and making
a specific argument about them in relation to the theme or poem.
o Example: “Through the use of biblical allusions in ?�Journey of
the Magi,’ particularly those in the second stanza, T. S. Eliot presents
the picture of spiritual conversion.”
6. Compare and contrast works that contain characteristics of both the
Victorian and Romantic periods, including “My Last Duchess.”
7. Examine Robert Browning’s use of satire in his poetry; focus on the
aspects of society he satirizes. Be specific.
8. Interpret “The Lady of Shalott” from a feminist perspective. As a
starting point, consider her confinement, the mirror, the loom, and/or
9. Analyze the humor and irony OR biographical significance of The
Importance of Being Earnest.
?� Weak Topic: Failing to tie in a discussion of humor and irony
with the main theme of the play or simply summarizing humorous moments
in the play; presenting the entire biography of Wilde and then
addressing the play without making connections to Wilde’s life.
o Example: “Humor and irony are important in the play”; “This play is
hilarious and I enjoyed it.”
o Example: “Wilde led a fascinating life, and his characters are
interesting as well.”
?� Strong Topic: Tying in a discussion of humor and irony to a
critique of what is being satirized; making clear connections between
Wilde’s life and his play.
o Example: “Wilde uses humor and irony to criticize the repressive and
often false morality of many Victorians.”
o Example: “Wilde struggled to preserve his identity in a culture that
valued morality, and this struggle with identity is presented in both
Jack and Algernon.”
10. Analyze Heart of Darkness’s presentation of British colonization,
race OR women in Heart of Darkness OR evaluate Heart of Darkness in
light of Achebe’s “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s ?�Heart
11. Research the social, political, and/or historical context of a work.
How do these contexts influence a specific work of literature?
?� Weak Topic: Presenting a list of historical facts about the
Modern period without making connections to literature or an author.
o Example: “The Titanic’s sinking was a turning point in American history.”
?� Strong Topic: Making strong connections about a relevant
historical event and a work.
o Example: “In ?�The Convergence of the Twain,’ Hardy uses the
sinking of the Titanic to show human arrogance in assuming humans can
• Research an important topic about the selected work(s) and use at
least 3 secondary scholarly sources (plus the primary-text: story, poem,
play, essay, etc.) that address the topic. Do not include any
non-scholarly material such as Wikipedia, MasterPlots, CliffNotes,
SparkNotes, or any publications on the internet. Electronic databases of
previously published articles in journals are acceptable. Rely on
scholarly articles, research databases, and books for information.
o Including no research will result in an “F” for the essay.
o Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and the Bible may certainly be used in
this research paper; however, they will not count towards the 3 required
? If you use an entry from a dictionary, the Works
Cited/References/Bibliography page will have at least 5 entries: the
primary text (story, poem, play, essay, etc.), the dictionary, and the 3
• If your instructor has suggested revisions to your title, thesis
statement, outline, and working bibliography, please incorporate those
revisions in the final version of your Research Paper, which will then
be followed by the essay itself.
• The essay must be double spaced, written in Times New Roman 12-point
font, and use 1” margins.
• Revise and edit carefully.
• Format your paper using APA style.
• Document sources through in-text citations and an end-text Works
Cited/References/Bibliography page conforming to current MLA, APA, or
Turabian style guides.
• Do not use any material or words from another source without giving
proper credit for that material or those words. To do otherwise is
plagiarism and will result in a “0” on the paper. Each paper will be
checked for plagiarism.
• Review the Research Paper Grading Rubric to learn more about how the
research paper will be graded. Comply with all requirements.
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