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ENG 211 CBU The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Essay


Projects offer you the chance to demonstrate your knowledge and your creative ability to interpret texts and contexts. With this project, I am especially interested in seeing how you develop a thesis that drives your analysis of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Leavers, Lincoln in the Bardo, or The Other Americans in relation to important themes and concepts discussed in this section of Introduction to Literature. In particular, ideas related to identity, empathy, immigration, and/or national meaning could be central to your analysis. Interpretive analysis means you do more than summarize what happens in the novel: you consider why it happens and, most importantly, what it means or represents in a broader literary, cultural, and/or historical context. Always think about what work the literature does. Each of these novels has agency, and you should think through that agency in your project. Your interpretation of the texts will certainly build on our class discussions, but you should also try to demonstrate some of your own original thinking. Strong analysis develops out of close attention to textual details, words, and imagery in order to present a new reading or perspective on the work. This process involves working closely with textual evidence in the form of direct quotations. Outside research allows you to develop context and methodology to support your interpretation.

Outside research: For this project, you are also asked to incorporate a minimum of five outside sources; at least 3 of them should be scholarly works (from a peer-reviewed academic journal or book from a university press; these sources can be about the specific author/novel, a theme, or even about a theoretical or historical concept); the remaining sources can be any outside source, including a reference source for a definition or a book review. Reference sources from Plough Library databases such as Credo Reference or Oxford Reference can be particularly useful in helping you define a key concept or term important to your project. You might also go to sources that serve as primary historical documents or historical sources that provide you with insight to the context(s) important to your argument. You are welcome to use the secondary readings assigned in class as outside sources.

At any point in the process, I would be happy to discuss your ideas, drafts, questions, concerns, or progress with you during my student office hours on Webex.


As you build off one of your previous response papers to develop this project, you are encouraged to develop and organize your essay around your own ideas and interpretations. Which response paper was your best work? Which one presents the best opportunity for further engaging in inquiry to develop an argument, incorporate research, and craft a fuller academic paper? For this option, you should use one of your responses as the foundation for a larger project. Although you are working with a response as the foundation, you might change your argument, purpose, structure, etc. to fit the goals of a larger project that incorporates outside research. Really work to re-vision (see again) the previous response for a new purpose. You should build your essay around an arguable thesis and specific examples from the text(s). Strong projects will offer interpretations based on close readings of the literary works, using specific details (in the form of direct quotations, paraphrases, and examples, all referenced by page number) from both the novel and outside sources to support the overall argument.

Your Canvas Discussion 8 plan should be the main foundation for the development of your project.


Completed project must be at least 6 full pages of text in length, double-spaced with 1” margins all around. Projects under 6 full pages will be considered incomplete, and those under 5.5 pages will receive a grade no higher than a “D.” Most projects will likely be around 6-9 pages. The works cited page does not count toward this page requirement.

Incorporate and cite at least 5 outside sources, at least 3 of which should be scholarly sources (from academic peer reviewed journals or books (monographs or edited collections) published by university presses. Citing means the sources are both referenced parenthetically or syntactically in-text and included on the works cited.

The completed project will be weighted 30% in your final course grade.

Your final draft should follow MLA manuscript style guidelines (see Purdue Online Writing Lab): 1-inch margins, double-spaced without extra line between paragraphs, Times New Roman (sizes 10-12), no cover page, parenthetical references, alphabetical works cited, etc.

Although helpful for understanding plot and character details, Cliff’s Notes, GradeSaver, Sparknotes, and the like are not appropriate sources for college-level writing. Taking information (whether word-for-word or just ideas) from these sources without appropriately referencing them constitutes plagiarism. Be original and insightful. Finally, remember to use the special resources for peer-reviewed scholarly articles and reference sources that are available to you through CBU’s Plough Library (Links to an external site.).

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students who plagiarize will receive a zero on this assignment, fail the class, and be referred to Academic Services, the necessary Academic Deans, and other CBU offices.

Over the final two weeks of the term, we will dedicate considerable class time to the development of your projects.


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