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An introduction to essay research: how to find books and articles, search efficiently, evaluate sources, read effectively, take essay notes, structure your essay, and make sense of citation.

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SMC 188Y Essay Assignment

Write a 7 page paper on an issue of marginalization in Canadian culture. It may involve a historic or contemporary issue and may be related to any populations, institutions and/or ideologies you choose, so long as you demonstrate how marginalization is present. For instance, you could write on Indigenous cultures and residential schools. You could write on prejudice toward one particular race in the social determinants of health. You could write about gender inequality. The LGTBQ community. Mental health. Ageism. Child Abuse. The criminal justice system as discriminatory. Refugee status …

There are endless topics you could choose from. The assignment is to choose an area of injustice that you desire to explore and develop a coherent thesis and argument that suggests why marginalization is present.

(1) The first part of the assignment, due 27 November, is an annotated bibliography and thesis statement (5%).

For your annotated bibliography please include at least 5 sources in the format shown to you by Richard in the workshop on annotated bibliographies. You may include more than five sources, if doing so serves you in any way, but the assignment is to have no less than five. (Note, Richard is going to post his power point presentation in the Library Resources pages on our Blackboard page)

(2) Attach to your bibliography, on a separate sheet, your thesis statement. This statement should be 2-4 sentences in length and should clearly show the topic of your essay and the argument you will develop in the body of your essay.

Your finalized essay is due 5 February (15%)

I suggest that you allow your thesis statement to grow out of the research you do for your annotated bibliography. The steps to follow might be:

  1. Choose your topic

  2. Find sources

  3. Annotated bibliography

  4. Brainstorm notes/ideas in response to your reading

  5. Write your thesis statement

As always, for any concerns/questions about the assignment or the writing process, as Dirk or myself. In early January, we will devote some time in class to essay structure.

SMC217H1 Literature and the Christian Child

Research Essay: The Christian Novel

In this assignment you are asked to choose one of the novels we are studying in the second part of this course (except that by J.K. Rowling), and to examine it as a “Christian novel” for children. This is not simply a descriptive paper; it is an argumentative (or persuasive) essay: you are to make a claim about your chosen novel and prove your claim by means of evidence drawn from the novel, backed up by scholarly, secondary sources.

  1. Select one of the following novels to discuss in detail: The Water Babies; The Princess and the Goblin; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Bridge to Terabithia; The Fire-Eaters

  2. Look for Christian elements in your chosen novel. What ideas about childhood and a child’s moral development can you find? Narrow this down to a specific topic (e.g., innocence, belief, death and life, sacrifice, forgiveness, prayer, reasonableness). Consider how the genre of the novel, and specific literary strategies, interact with your topic.

  3. You should use at least TWO appropriate, scholarly, secondary sources to supplement your own ideas about your chosen novel. These may be specific works of analysis (e.g., on Katherine Paterson’s fiction), or more general theoretical works (e.g., on Christianity and literature). You do not have to agree with the authors, but the relevance of your choice must be clear. (Published remarks, interviews, and essays by the authors themselves on their own work will be very useful, but treat these as supplementary sources in addition to the required peer-reviewed sources.)

  4. Formulate a clear thesis statement (or argument) about your novel, and select the evidence you will use to prove your thesis (or make your argument). Please note:

    • This is not yet a thesis: “In this paper I will analyze the relationship between childhood and Christian sacrifice in David Almond’s The Fire Eaters.”

    • This is better: “In this essay, I will argue that Bobby understands McNulty’s death as a sacrifice like that of Christ—a gift of his life to save the world from destruction.”

    • Provide narrative detail where this is necessary to support your thesis, but make sure to concentrate on analysis and argument over description and narrative.

Length: between 2100 and 2500 words (double-spaced, double-sided, standard fonts and sizes). Please include word count on your title page.

Due: at the beginning of class, April 3rd. This paper is worth 30% of your final grade.

Style: Please use Chicago (footnotes) and give a complete bibliography. (A handy reference can be found here:

Save paper! Please attach the rubric, facing inward.