ABI Faculty Development Program Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter
Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter

Personal Poetics: A Researched Essay

Class information

ENG 201 – Introduction to Literature

approx. 25 students

English 201 is a very brief introduction to the major genres of literature, poetry, prose and drama, and how to discuss and write about literature. Students will: read stories, possibly a short novel, a play and a range of poems for the class; class will discuss how to make meaning from literature and how the forms of writing and uses of language function, and consider questions the literature raises and the value those questions have in relation to thinking about the world generally. Students also learn about basic literary research using library and  internet sources and MLA documentation. By the end of the course, students should become more confident readers, critical thinkers and writers.

Project overview

The researched essay satisfies course requirements to:  1. write a well-developed, thesis-driven argument and analysis essay that uses evidence from literary texts and incorporate research, and are comprised of clear, grammatically correct, effective sentences in well-organized paragraphs, 2. frame research questions; plan research strategies, find and evaluate sources using the BMCC Library and the BMCC Library Website; and present the results of research, and 3. correctly use the conventions of MLA documentation and citation, including a “Works Cited” page. The essay fits into the course introduction to reading, engaging with/responding to and critiquing poetry.

Why did you select this project? How does it relate to identity and purpose?

Students almost invariably say that one quality of writing that is specific to poetry is its intimacy and emotion, and they tend to respond to poetry more personally and strongly. For this reason, it makes sense to me that students might find research based in a poem they responded strongly to, or about which they have feelings, more engaging. It’s my hope that this allows them to connect their subjectivities to academic research, to see themselves as part of an academic project/process and to see poetry as a site of dynamic and broad representation in language.

What advice do you have for other faculty who would like to implement a similar project?

Allot significant time for this–I find that students need in-class support for the research as well as the writing. I’m finding that a conversation (at least one) about the various ways we research in daily life are and aren’t similar to academic research is really interesting and helpful to them and to me–they are used to using digital tools to look up information, but that doesn’t necessarily translate, or translate as I might expect, to academic research and evaluating resources.

Also, it’s really helpful to have read/evaluated/incorporated a secondary source earlier in the semester. Likewise, writing one annotated bibliography entry already is very helpful.

Related materials

Researched Essay Process
The file attached takes you through my (scaffolded) process of working with students through this researched essay. I hope it’s a useful suggestion.

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