Description: Students will write a 3-5 page research essay which examines an artist, period, genre or movement through a well-defined critical strategy (or strategies) using a combination of close textual analysis of lyrics
and MLA style documented research. The paper must be thesis-driven and/or draw some analytical conclusion based on an examination of lyrics
and their relevant musical, biographical, cultural or historical contexts. Works cited should include at least two primary sources (lyrics
) and three secondary sources (criticism).
Planning Your Paper: Choose any artist, period, genre or movement and write researched literary analysis of the subject. Your analysis should support a thesis which not only asserts an interpretation of the works under consideration but also evaluates the works or artists according to a well-defined critical strategy, for example: Formalist, Comparative Lit, Psychoanalytic, Feminist, or Socio-Economic.
• In a Comparative Lit Analysis you might explore the influence of Eastern mysticism on the psychedelic music of the 60's, or more specifically, the influence of specific Buddhist texts or teachings on specific songs by The Beatles and how that music influenced the popular culture of the late 60's.
• For a Socio-Economic Analysis, you might examine how social and economic circumstances of a certain period or place are reflected by its music, for example, the blues of the American South in the 1920's and 30's, or the folk/protest music of the early 60's, or the emergence of rap from urban areas during the 1980's and 90's. You would then support your thesis with direct references to the lyrics
of specific artists and to any relevant criticism, commentary or historical evidence your research reveals.
Your essay should cite all quotes in MLA format and contain at least two quotes from
the works you are analyzing, as well as quotes or references from at least two
secondary sources relevant to the work or author/s you are considering. Be sure to
include a works cited, double space, and title your essay (don't just use the author's!).
Your essay should be 3-5 pages in length (not counting Works Cited).
Literary Thesis/ Outline Worksheet & Peer Critique
1. What is the subject (text/s) of the thesis? Are both the title/s and author/s mentioned?
2. What is the central claim of the thesis?
3. Is the claim of the thesis too broad or too narrow? Is it located in the text under consideration? That is, can it be argued or proven primarily by an analysis of the text itself (as opposed to a broader social or historical critique)? Explain.
4. What critical strategy is the author using for his or her analysis: Formalist, Postmodern, a combination?
5. How is this critical strategy expressed or identified in the thesis? Does the author “narrate” or “announce” the strategy in an intrusive or awkward manner? Or does the author clearly imply the strategy through the nature of his or her central claim? Explain.
6. Is this critical strategy appropriate for the text/s under consideration? Explain.
7. What literary elements are addressed by the thesis?
8. What is this thesis statement’s greatest strength?
9. What part of this thesis would you clarify or revise?
10. Do the subtopics in the student/author’s outline clearly support his or her thesis? Explain.
Formalist/Comparative Postmodern Analysis Critique Use the following questions as guidelines to help the author better see his or her work through the eyes of the reader. As a critic, try to be as specific as you can about the essay's strengths and weaknesses in order to help the author effectively revise.
What literary work/s is the author analyzing?
Does the student-author refer to both the author and title of the work/s?
Is the work's title properly formatted?
Does the student-author offer a clear synopsis of the work in question?
Would you add anything to it?
Where in the essay does it appear? How is this effective or ineffective?
What is the central question that the student-author asks of this work?
What critical strategy does the thesis employ: Formalist, Postmodern, a combination?
Does this strategy seem relevant to the work? Explain.
Beyond addressing the work from one a critical perspectives, what claim does the thesis make about the work?
What literary elements does the student-author address through his or her thesis, if any?
What method or methods of organization does the student-author use to support his or her thesis? For example, does he or she use Illustration by Example, Comparison and Contrast?
How is this effective?
Write a brief outline of the student-author's essay. Is it organized logically? Explain.
Does the student-author support each general assertion that he or she makes about the work with specific references to the text?
Are any direct quotes used? Are they properly formatted and documented according to MLA?
Is there enough commentary by the student-author to justify the use of each quote? What research has the student-author done to support his or her claims about the work? How does it reinforce the critical strategy through which the student-author has chosen to view the work? Is there enough commentary by the student-author to justify the use of these quotes? Does the student-author seem to rely too much on the ideas of others? Explain.
Is there an MLA works cited page? Are the sources scholarly? Explain.
Does the student-author offer enough evidence to support his or her thesis? Explain.
Are there any points that could use further development?
Does each point seem relevant? That is, are they unified?
Does each paragraph flow to the next? In other words, are they coherent?
Does the student-author effectively conclude his or her essay? Explain.
Proofing, Editing and Overall Effectiveness
Are there any grammar or spelling errors which mar the essay's content? If so, mark them.
Are there any awkward or unclear sentences? If so, underline them.
Are there any vague or inaccurate uses of language? If so, mark them.
What is this essay's greatest strength? If you were to revise this essay, what would you focus on?
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