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ENG 102 - Short Story Fiction with Historical Research

This guide is for Ms. Grigg's short story assignment in English 102 that uses literary and historical sources.

1. Getting Started

Exclamation PointFirst Things First - Assignment Requirements

Before you begin work on any research paper, examine the assignment closely for any requirements. 

Q. How long is the paper? 

This essay should be at least four pages and follow all the MLA formatting rules.

Q. How many sources?

You'll need 6 total sources for this paper. The first source will be the short story itself in your textbook (primary source). The other 5 sources will be outside (secondary) sources that you'll use to help you analyze the story. See below for more information on what kind of sources.

Q. What kind of sources?

For your' 5 outside (secondary) sources, you'll need:

  • 2-3 literary criticism sources (analysis of the short story itself)
  • 2-3 historical sources (analyzing the time period of your story).

You'll be connecting these two ideas in your paper - how the real-life historical time period (aka setting) affected the story / is an important part of the story.

You can find these 5 outside sources from books, ebooks, or the library databases. You may not use general internet sources for this project (i.e. no Google searches, no Wikipedia, etc.)

Q. How do you cite sources?

Use MLA format for your citations. You may want to remind yourself what information you need from a source to do the MLA Works Cited page and in-text citations before you get started. See our MLA guide or the citations page on this guide to get started.

Q. What is due when?

Make note of the due dates for the following parts:

  • Outline, thesis statement, Works Cited page, and one annotation
  • Annotated Bibliography (final)
  • Final Draft of Paper

Each one of these takes time, so plan ahead and give yourself time to work (and ask questions).

Q. What other requirements should you make note of? 

Make note of other requirements from the assignment sheet - including how many quotes you need to include, etc.? Ask your instructor for clarification on any parts you're not sure about.

Selecting a Topic/Short Story

Probably the first thing you need to do when beginning work on a research paper is to select the short story or topic that you're going to write about. Consider the following:

  • Which of the 5 or so topic choices sounds the best?
  • What was your favorite short story?
  • Which short story/topic do you think will be easiest for your to analyze
  • Which one do you have the most to say about?
  • Do some searching - do some quick searching to see if your topic has sources you can find (if you can't find sources, Ask-a-Librarian for help!)

Re-Read the Story!

Once you've selected a short story topic, re-read the story very closely, paying close attention to the setting and the role it plays in the story, but also looking for themes, symbols, imagery, etc. that are also important. Use a highlighter or a pen to mark interesting parts of the story that you want to use in your paper. Write notes in the margins. (If you can't write in your book, take notes on a separate sheet of paper).