Prof. Rockwood: English 101               


Staged Persuasive Essay Supported by Library Research


Topic & Sources Due Week 3
First Draft Due Week 5
Final Draft Due Week 6


(See syllabus for exact dates)



You will write a persuasive essay on an approved topic of your choice using library research to support your thesis.  Please choose a topic you are interested in learning more about.  Some suggested topics are provided below, but you may choose your own topic with my approval.

I have some lessons on writing research papers on my website: WWW.ROCKWOODENGLISH.COM. Please study these carefully before asking me for help.  

The objective of this assignment is to give you the step-by-step experience of writing a basic research paper. I am looking for the following:

You have researched your topic using the library and demonstrate that you have learned more about your topic through your research (perhaps by examining multiple perspectives or perspectives that contradict your thesis)

You have integrated your research into your paper to help support your thesis
You have presented a well-organized, well written paper that offers good support of your thesis
You have cited your sources using MLA citation style



Your research paper will be 4-5 pages, double-spaced using 12 point type with 1” margins. You may write more if you wish.  The Works Cited page does not count toward the page total. You may include pictures and other graphics, however these will also not count toward the page total. I want to see at least 4 pages of your writing (double-spaced).
Properly cited quotations will count toward the page total, and I expect you to use quotations from your sources in your papers (we will discuss how to properly use quotations in a later class). I do not, however, want to see papers that consist mostly of quotations with very little of your own writing.
You should follow MLA style as described in Rules for Writers.
You should use at least 2 high quality sources found in the library or by using the library website – not the internet. NOTE: USING THE LIBRARY/LIBRARY WEBSITE TO OBTAIN GOOD SOURCES IS A REQUIREMENT FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT. I highly recommend asking the librarians for help finding sources.
You must have a Works Cited page at the end of your paper
You must have a source folder with photocopies/printouts of all sources used for this paper (handed in with the paper)
You should follow all of the conventions of good writing we have discussed in this class


Some Suggested Topics:


Below are some suggested topics. You may take one of these or you may choose your own topic with my approval.


Should we get rid of the Electoral College?

Should all adults be required to vote?

Our Broken Criminal Justice System (there are many aspects you could focus on including the for-profit aspects of the criminal justice system). 

Is gun control a good idea or a bad idea? If arguing for gun control, how much should there be & how would it work? If arguing against gun control, how can we better deal with gun-related violence?

Should we ban tobacco as an unreasonably dangerous product? 

The death penalty: good or bad policy? 

Should school uniforms be required in public schools? 

Do all students need to go to college?

Should government cancel all student loans? 

Should healthcare be guaranteed as a right – if so, what does that mean?

Should the government require child immunizations for serious diseases or should this be a matter of parental choice?

Should big tech companies like Google and Facebook be more regulated or broken up?

**YOUR OWN TOPIC: Please OK this with me first. Again, please choose a subject you are interested in and would like to learn more about.



Prof. Rockwood                              ENG 102 Research Paper Assignment


4-5 pages minimum (not including Works Cited page). Typed, double spaced with 1” margins using 12 pt. type (you may write more but not less); MLA formatted/DO NOT INCLUDE PICTURES OR A COVER PAGE (SEE SAMPLE RESEARCH PAPER). I would prefer this paper to be written in the 3rd person to emphasize the subject.

Paper due: See Syllabus 


The paper MUST analyze literature and MUST incorporate at least 2 sources of literary criticism found in the library (or using the library website) to support your analysis. I would HIGHLY recommend using the library and asking the librarians for help.

I am looking for a basic analytical research paper. This means it analyzes a work or works by a single author AND supports its thesis using research.


Suggested Topics: (these can be modified as needed)

Explore Edgar Allen Poe’s treatment of death in some of his works -- in particular, one might compare and contrast two of Poe’s most famous poems: “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven”.

Explore Robert Frost’s use of nature in two or three of his poems as a metaphor for larger ideas about life and death.

How does Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman” question the American Dream and the American system of capitalism? (Note: these can probably be seen on video as well as read).

How does Lorraine Hansberry's play "A Raisin in the Sun" explore the issue of racism in America? (This is also a film - although the Hollywood version does change a few things).

Explore Kurt Vonnegut’s use of satire (choose 3 stories to analyze). 

Explore Maya Angelou's or Langston Hughes's treatment of the theme of oppression in some of their works. 

If you have your own topic – FANTASTIC! I want you to research something you are interested in – but please get my approval first.

FINAL NOTE: You should begin work on this paper immediately. Research papers take time and cannot be written at the last minute.