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ENGL 057 - Critical Connections - Keiter: Getting Started


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McCormick Library Hours


The Invention of Wings Research Essay Assignment

ENGL 057 – Keiter

Length: 500 – 750 words plus a works cited page, MLA 8th edition

Assignment Overview

Write an essay in which you research an issue related to The Invention of Wings. You will select one topic from the list that interests you to explore further. Using HACC’s library for academic research, you will research your selected topic and then write an informative essay about that topic in which you provide a historical perspective of the issue and a connection to the novel. 

To accomplish this, you will need to conduct research in the HACC library collection to find a minimum of two academic sources, but no more than three,  help you explain the topic to an audience of interested readers (your classmates). You will need to make sure that you have a tight focus for your essay. For example, the topic of slavery is too broad; you should narrow the focus to a particular aspect of slavery (such as workhouses or slave auctions). It is imperative that you properly cite your sources and that the essay ends with a works cited page.

Specific Steps to complete this assignment*

  1. Read pages 90 – 108 in The Little Seagull Handbook.
  2. Decide on your topic before the library instruction class.
  3. After the library instruction you should complete your research. Do not hesitate to ask the librarians for assistance. 
  4. Bring your thesis statement to class on April 7th.
  5. Bring your updated thesis statement and essay outline to class on April 9th
  6. Bring your sources to class on April 9th.
  7. Bring a completed, typed draft of your essay to class on April 21st for required peer reviews.
  8. Bring a revised, typed draft of your essay to class on April 23rd for a conference with Professor Keiter. 
  9. Use at least two different academic sources (but no more than three). No websites and no encyclopedias.
  10. The final draft is due on May 5, 2020. You will need to submit the rough draft with the workshop papers, the conference draft, printed copies of your sources (with information highlighted), and your final draft. This must be submitted in two pocket folder.

*All due dates are subject to change. Steps to completing this essay may need to be modified if we do not return to campus in early April as planned. 

Topic choices (keep in mind you need to make a connection between the historical topic and the novel):

  • Abolitionist movement
  • Quaker religion
  • Suffrage
  • Slave revolts
  • Slave laws/restrictions
  • Story quilts
  • Education of women (in the early 1800s)
  • Urban slave jobs or positions
  • Slave punishments
  • Oral storytelling
  • The Grimké sisters

  • No matter which topic you select, you will need to focus your essay. These are broad topics that will require you to create a narrowed focus in order to create a well-written essay.

Getting Started

Generating ideas – spend time reviewing your reading notes, your journals, and your book. Do you see any patterns or ideas that would help you answer this prompt? Use brainstorming strategies to help you discover the connections: free write, list, web, and so on. You will also need to start your research in this step of the writing process.

Plan – once you have ideas, you need to make sense of them. Do you see a primary idea that you would be able to discuss? How about supporting details? Take time to outline your essay before you begin drafting.

Draft – using your outline create a first draft of your essay. Do not get hung up on making it perfect; the goal is to get a draft together. You will spend time in the next step improving this draft.

Revise – spend time revising your draft for clarity. A few things to consider are:

  • Do you have a main point (a thesis statement)?
  • Does every paragraph directly support the main idea?
  • Is the essay confusing? Is it easy to understand?
  • Have you used the three required academic sources to support your main point? Are those references correctly cited?
  • Is your essay engaging?
  • Is your entire essay written in third person?

Edit – once you are happy with your revised draft you need to move to the editing stage. When you edit you need to:

  • Review every sentence for accuracy. Do you have the right words for what you are discussing?
  • Check the grammar, spelling, and punctuation in every sentence.

Proofread – once you think your essay is complete, make sure you proofread to catch any last errors that you may have missed earlier.


Barbara Stockland's picture
Barbara Stockland


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Celia Fox
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