To His Coy Mistress

“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvel

Objective: Enter into the academic conversation and show how your unique reading of a text is in this conversation.

What does this mean? You need to analyze a text but also show you are aware of the academic and critical work done on that text by others.

Sources: One text from our anthology

Outside Sources: Minimum 6 academic sources

Length: 10 pages

Format: MLA


An integral and essential aspect of the academic experience is research. It is a skill set that all disciplines rely upon at some point, and research is not designed to punish you but rather teach you how to pursue knowledge independently. When studying Literature, research is essential to find out “the conversation” about the work. English professors spend a lot of time writing papers back and forth to each other, mostly arguing about “what the text means” or “how the text fails”. You will start to enter into this conversation, and you will add to it.

In a 10 page research paper, you are going to select one piece of writing from class, and you are going to present an overview of its critical acceptance, and you are also going to add to this conversation by offering your analysis of the piece. To say it another way, you are going to see what scholars have to say about a piece of writing, and you are going to actively respond to that criticism. This is what you need to do:

1. Choose one text that we have read or will read in class to study.

2. Present at minimum six (6) different scholarly analyses of that text or analyses of ideas surrounding that text. You will want to briefly summarize the scholar’s position on the text and highlight their key points and how these points are in conversation with the other sources.

3. You will present your own, unique reading of the text. You must show the reader what your position is and why you think that.

4. You will put yourself into conversation with your sources, pointing out where you agree and where you disagree, and why.

Essentially, you are trying to find out what other people say about the text that you are studying, and you need to respond to what they are saying. It is ok to agree with some pieces of a scholar’s opinion and not others, but you need to make it clear what you see in the text and why you feel that way, and if you agree or disagree with a source, you have to make it clear why you agree or disagree. This is a conversation, a literary one, but a conversation. It is very helpful here to look at the different critical lenses used by different scholars as this will give you a wider perspective of the piece. Also, here are a few key points to remember:

You must have a works cited page accurately detailing in MLA format what sources you use.

It is best to use a source that is a bit older as there is more writing on it, so if you use one of contemporary pieces, you might find it harder to find good sources.

Remember: Online only sources like websites, Wikipedia, etc, are not academic sources and therefore do not count towards the minimum requirements. That said, literary reviews from established literary magazines are acceptable sources for this essay.

Using a site like JSTOR or Google Academic is a great way to gather sources. Any source found through JSTOR is going to be an academic source.

Do not spend more than 2 sentences ever describing what happens in the primary text nor spend more than 2 sentences summarizing what a source has said about the text. Stay on topic, and stay focused.

Remember: A research paper is similar but not the same as an essay. You are trying to prove your thesis correct, but you have to do so through the use of many varied sources, not only through your own deductions and reasoning.

Last Updated on January 19, 2018

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