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ENGL 102 - Humanities Focus

Paper 1 Requirements

Overview: For your first major assignment, you will develop an expository research paper that explores the concept of difference. Starting with the themes from our first readings, especially The Curious Incident, think about a specific group of individuals (or a cultural or artistic movement) that will allow you to define, describe, and analyze difference. Think about the ways a group is defined as different by others and/or by themselves. Examples could include people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ communities, immigrant communities, religious minorities. You could look at specific fandom cultures (Trekkies. . .). For an artistic movement, you could, for example, look at graffiti artists.

With an exploratory paper, your research may take you in many directions, even as you focus on a specific group within the framework of difference.

Developing a research question: An essential element of research is thinking about a question you would like answered through the course of your research. Here are some examples:

  • What does it mean to be part of cosplay culture, and how has this culture evolved?
  • What are the origins of punk culture, and how has it been defined?
  • What are the experiences of refugee communities in small towns?
  • How do students with disabilities experience college?
  • How is graffiti regarded in relation to more conventional art? What sets it apart as different? How does it challenge or confirm what defines art?

Purpose: The broad purpose of this paper is to develop research and analytical skills. In the course of the paper, you should describe the group you have chosen, discuss the ways in which this group is defined in terms of difference (for example, from within and outside the group, through stereotype, myth, contrast, and so on), and analyze the significance of your findings.

Requirements: Your paper should be around 1500 words. While you may use a range of sources, including interviews, blogs, and so on, you MUST include a minimum of FOUR authoritative sources. Your paper should be in MLA format with a works cited page, in-text citations, and appropriate page layout.

Audience: Imagine your audience as people in an academic context (including but not limited to professors, other students, scholars interested in writing on the subject). The paper should sound like a thoughtful, formal conversation you are having with them. Academic readers are also inherently curious and skeptical: they ask tough questions, so make sure to use the best sources and to develop your thoughts clearly and with good support. This allows you to approach your topic so that others can truly "see" it and understand it, as well as your views on it and the research you have conducted.

Examples of eBooks

How Professionals Approach This Topic

Look over the "A Psychological Exploration of Engagement in Geek Culture" document below. Skim the reference list to see an example of how you can use different types of sources to support your ideas.  What do all the sources have in common?

Look at a few of the document's sources a bit deeper.  Why are they such strong sources to understand the geek subculture and its differences with mainstream culture?

Depending on the population you have selected for the assignment, you may want to tap into the strength of a specific academic community.  Library databases typically cater to a single discipline, so browse the list for relevant choices for your topic.

What are Search Equations?

Search equations are strings of terms connected by relationship signifiers called Boolean operators.  There are three Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT. Quotation marks are used to search phrases.

You can create complex search equations to combine many different relationships. Use parentheses to isolate some searches before applying them to the whole search.

You don't have to use search equations, but they will often improve the quality and quantity of your results.