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ENGL 201 - Major English Writers I - Allen-Gleed

Topic Selection

The first place to look for a topic is within the assignment itself. In short, you will choose a piece of literature and an element within the work to write about. Your topic needs to be sufficiently narrow or broad to be able to research and write about. Appropriate topic selection can set you up for success if done well. 

Your topic is too broad if...

  • you are having difficulty discussing something in depth or writing something original.
  • the only similarity between your resources is that they are both on the same piece of literature. 
  • there are a lot of subtopics within the concept.

Example that is too broad: Christianity in Paradise Lost.  

 

Your topic is too narrow if...

  • you get no (or only a few) results in the databases. 
  • you get a lot results in the databases, but they're not what you're looking for.
  • you can't seem to find anything to support your ideas.

Example that is too narrow: Saltwater in Beowulf. 

Your topic is just right if...

  • you readily find articles that match with your ideas.
  • you can see the connection between the work, the article, and your interest.
  • you feel like you'll be able to write enough without stretching it or editing it down too much.

Example that is just right: The handkerchief in Othello

Choosing takes Research!

Literature Resource Center

Literature Resource Center

If you're not sure what you might want to write about, you can always look up the work or author in the Literature Resources Center. This database provides overviews and analysis of literary works, characters, and historical context. 

Literature-focused Reference Series'

Short Stories for Students

Provides critical overviews of short stories from all cultures and time periods. Includes discussions of plot, characters, themes and structure as well as the story's cultural and historical significance.

Poetry for Students

Features discussion and analysis of poems of all time periods, nations, and cultures. Provides an overview of the poem and discussion of its principal themes, images, form and construction.

Novels for Students

Provides critical overviews of novels from various cultures and time periods. Includes discussions of plot, characters, themes and structure as well as the work's cultural and historical significance.

Drama for Students

Provides critical overviews of the most-studied plays of all time periods, nations, and cultures. Includes discussions of themes, characters, critical reception, dramatic devices and traditions as well as cultural and historical context.