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WRIT 102-20: Heroines: Welcome!

This LibGuide is intended to assist students of Professor Leigh Harbin's Spring 2020 WRIT 102-20 class, which focuses on literary heroines.
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Professor Harbin's Argumentative Research Paper Assignment

Please read this entire assignment carefully.

Argumentative Research Paper Overview:

Your major paper for this class, and the culmination of your freshman writing experience, will consist of an Argumentative Research Paper.

You’ve been building the skills needed to succeed on this assignment throughout the class. We will work on this paper over several weeks. Your final product will be a paper that you can feel proud of and that will set a solid foundation for your future as a successful college level writer.

The assignment is scaffolded to make the work manageable and to prevent both procrastination and undue rushing. Each component is graded to allow you to earn credit as you learn and build you competence and confidence.

Topic Choices:

Choose ONE topic from the choices below. Read each topic carefully, understanding all your options.

  1. The character Melanie in three versions: the short story “Iphigenia in Aulis” by Mike Carey, the novel The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (same author, different version of his name), and the film version of  The Girl with All the Gifts (2016).
  2. One female character of your choice in two versions: (the nameless narrator, Rebecca, OR Mrs. Danvers) in the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Alfred Hitchcock’s film Rebecca (1940).
  3. A heroine (or an heroic male or non-binary human character) of your choice who exists in two versions, one written (novel or substantive graphic novel) and one visual (film, recorded theatrical performance, or TV series). Offred and Carol/YWN are off limits because we’ve already covered them. Be sure you are able to access both versions of your character.  The character must have sufficient substance and differences in both versions to allow you to make an extended comparative analysis. Sufficient substantive sources must exist to allow you to meet the requirements below. (If you are interested in this option and have questions feel free to email me early.

Whichever topic you choose, your paper must analyze a character who has been adapted from one text to another, building an argument for how adaptation impacts the character’s empowerment.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, begin your research. Remember, the Marymount library and databases are available to you. Gradually develop a full, rich argument.


Your paper will combine research and your own well-organized ideas. Your final paper will use the two or three primary sources you’ve selected for your topic and at least three secondary sources such as peer reviewed articles or other substantive sources of interest such as film reviews in major publications. ALL sources must be properly documented using complete and correct MLA stye.

Argumentative Research Paper Components

Make sure you understand the instructions, requirements, and due dates for each component. Email me early if you have questions.

1) Topic Choice and Preliminary Research Question (PRQ):

Send in an Email to Dr. Harbin by April 21              Worth 50 points

Begin by stating your topic choice. Then, state the preliminary research question (PRQ) that you want your paper to answer. Remember, good research questions begin with the words “How” or “What”.   Questions that require analysis in order to answer them will work well. The question should have a specific focus but should not be answerable with “yes” or “no”. The answer should require an argument.

Your PRQ must:

  • have appropriate scope for a 6-8 page paper
  • be answerable with research
  • suggest an argument of your own that can be supported with your own reasons and evidence from sources


Strong PRQ: How can Carol in Todd Haynes’ [Safe] and Gilman’s narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” be seen as empowered despite their entrapment?  (Has a working idea. Opens the possibility for supportable central claim.)

Weak PRQ: Is Carol White more empowered that YWN? (Suggests a simple “Yes” or “No’ answer.)

Please Note: If you choose topic 3, provide brief descriptions of the character in both versions and full info on your texts: complete titles, author or director, etc., dates of publication, run, or release.

2) Annotated Bibliography:

Submit on Blackboard by April 28                            Worth 75 Points

Your annotated bibliography must contain at least 5 potential secondary substantive and/or scholarly sources.

Provide a complete and correctly formatted MLA style Works Cited entry for each secondary source.

Provide a brief 2-3 sentence summary of each secondary source. What is its main point? What overall position does the writer take regarding your character(s)? How will the source help you answer your research question and make your own argument?

Note: It’s not necessary to read every word of every secondary source, although of course it’s great if you can do that. Skimming to look for main claims can help you save time.

Check out the Sample Annotated Bib on Blackboard to see the format.

3) Skeleton Outline/Discussion Quiz 3:                    Worth 100 points

Submit a typed 1-2 page skeleton outline on Blackboard in Discussion Quiz 3 by May 5

Post 2 comments to your classmates’ outline by May 7

Your skeleton outline consists of a working central claim, followed by at least 3 supporting reasons and at least 3 pieces of cited evidence supporting each reason.

Your working central claim answers your research question. A strong working central claim is:

  • stated as a sentence
  • supportable with research
  • clear and concise
  • appropriate in scope: answerable in a 6-8 page paper
  • disputable enough to allow you to build a strong supporting argument, in other words, you can imagine a reasonable person disagreeing with your claim.

Your written skeleton outline must also include

  • At least three major reasons (secondary claims) that support the central claim
  • At least three pieces of evidence (facts and specific examples) to support each reason, each with a correctly formatted MLA citation (at least 9 total pieces of evidence in your outline. More is great!)
  • No Introduction/No Conclusion - the outline begins with the working CC and covers the BODY of your paper.

Check out the Sample Skeleton Outline on Blackboard to see the format.

4) Preliminary Draft:                                                Worth 100 points

Turn in on Blackboard by May 14

Submit a well-developed research paper draft consisting of at least four FULL pages of text that contains a central claim, and shows most of your supporting argument. Include correct MLA documentation: Proper in-text citation and a correctly formatted works cited page. Focus on the CC and the argument in the Preliminary Draft. No introduction or conclusions yet.

5) Final Draft:                                                            Worth 150 points

Turn in on Blackboard by May 21

The final paper must be 6-8 pages in length and use at least two primary and three secondary sources with correct documentation including in-text citation and works cited page. The final draft must include an introduction, central claim, and a well-developed argument supported by reasons and evidence. Finally, it should end with a strong conclusion.