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ENGL 207 - Introduction to Literature- 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. 

Choosing takes research!

In order to get a good start at choosing a topic, you need to do some background research. Simply saying "I'll write about The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is a good start, but isn't going to get you anywhere useful. By doing background research, you can find additional terms, concepts, and ideas to turn a general idea into something that is easier to research, such as the role of addiction in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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. 

Broad / Narrow / Just Right

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: Love in Elizabeth Barret Browning's works.  

 

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: Floor boards in The Tale-Tell Heart. 

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: Solitude in the works of Robert Frost.

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.