Writing an essay requires you to answer a research question.
How does the author's use of certain themes or styles contribute to your reading of the text? How do the depictions of characters differ from one work to another? Essentially, you are offering insight into your reading of the the text supported by relevant research sources.
Purdue University has some great information on writing about literature, including this page which may be a helpful for starting a research project: Literature Topics & Research
How you choose to answer your research question is up to you, but your response to the question should be backed by research that shows evidence to support or oppose the views being expressed. You will likely need to use a combination of research sources, some of which may relate directly to the author or work about which you are writing, and some which may discuss material you want to explore in your assignment that you can relate to your text. For instance, if you were investigating an author's representations of mental health or depression, you might look for sources that consider how those have been represented in other art or literature.
Searching for information using library tools is best accomplished when you stick to keywords or phrases that describe your subject specifically (do not type in your entire research question and expect useful results!)
|"Author Name" AND "Name of Work Being Studied"
|"mental health" OR depression
|gothic OR horror
|literature AND depression
What do I want to tell my reader? A thesis should tell the purpose of the paper.
Read background information about your author / work / literary movement. Interviews, book reviews, encyclopedia entries, course notes, etc. will all help you incorporate detailed academic sources in your research, and may bring to mind ideas for research questions you want to pursue.
You would never build a house without a blueprint, so why would you write an essay without one? Build the scaffolding before filling in the details. Break out topics and sections first so you know where your paper is going, and you know your research needs.
Identify your keywords before searching. Use a thesaurus to come up with synonyms for the same word to expand search results.
Find a good article? Check the citations or reference list and search OCtopus to find the articles used by the author.
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