The Observed Life: Gossip, Secrecy, and the Circulation of Social Knowledge

Research Essay

Final Essay Draft
Please submit your final essay draft via email to me no later than Wednesday December 21. Your essay should be between 15 and 18 pages in length, typed, in a standard 12-point font, and with one inch margins. The format of your research paper should follow MLA guidelines: I have included a formatting checklist below.

I am available to meet with you and talk about you draft Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Dec 12, 13, and 15) next week. Please email me to schedule an appointment. After that, I shall be available to answer your questions and concerns via email ( from Fri Dec 16 to Sun Dec 18. From that point forward, you must work on your own so it pays to plan ahead and not leave everything until the last possible moment.  

Evaluation Criteria
When I read your final essay draft, I shall be evaluating it according to how well it accomplishes the following six criteria:

  1. States and argues for a thesis that goes beyond a straightforward interpretation of the texts.
  2. Establishes a well-defined motive for the thesis (an incongruity, puzzle, or surprise in your primary texts and/or a significant hole, limitation, or disagreement in the secondary literature).  
  3. Engages and interacts critically with secondary sources (challenging, correcting, or extending them in the strategic ways described by Mark Gaipa).
  4. Uses the four quoting steps: orient, quote, reflect, connect or distinguish.
  5. Performs its critical ambition by taking interpretative risks and providing unexpected insight.
  6. Follows MLA formatting instructions correctly and is free from mechanical errors (grammar, punctuation, spelling) that could have been caught if attentively proofread.

NOTE: the Draft as Final Paper:
It can feel a little strange to be asked to turn in a draft as your final paper of the semester. And, of course, the draft you turn in is only the first, provisional version of what will become your Honors research paper. However, it’s important to think of your draft in all the ways that you would a finished paper, with one important exception: try out ideas that are daring, risky, dynamic, zany, and that push at the edges of your thinking.

Formatting Checklist
Note: this checklist is not exhaustive, but it does indicate the main formatting rules that you must follow. You will need to refer to OWL, the online writing lab hosted by Purdue, to supplement the directions listed here. 

Research Paper Layout

  1. At the top of the first page, type your name, your instructor’s name, the course number and the date on separate lines, double spacing between the lines.
  2. Center your title. Do not italicize or underline your title, put it in quotation marks or boldface or type it all in capital letters.
  3. Number all pages consecutively through the research paper in the upper right-hand corner.
  4. Double space the entire research paper, including block quotations
  5.  Do not justify right margins. A ragged right hand margin (as in this document) is fine
  6. To indicate the beginning of a new paragraph, indent one tab space. Do not include extra spacing between paragraphs.


  1. Italicize the names of books, novels, plays, poems published as books (e.g. The Iliad), newspapers, Websites, online databases, films, and television shows.
  2. Use quotation marks for the titles of articles, chapters of books, essays, lyric poems, and individual episodes of television shows.

C. Names/Numbers/Dates

  1. The first time you mention an author in your paper, you should give their first and last name (Emily Dickinson). After that just use their surname (Dickinson)
  2. Spell out numbers written in one or two words but represent other numbers by Arabic numerals: (one, thirty-six, 101, 1, 275).
  3. Spell out centuries in lowercase letters (the twentieth century). Hyphenate centuries when used as adjectives before nouns (eighteenth-century thought).

D. Works Cited

  1. The list of works cited appears at the end of your paper. Begin your works cited list on a new page and center the title: Works Cited.
  2. Arrange your entries in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Primary and secondary sources are placed in one continuous list.
  3. Begin each entry in your works cited flush with the left hand margin, If an entry runs more than one line, indent the subsequent line or lines one-half inch from the left margin.
  4. Double space your works cited list. Do not include extra spacing between entries.

Previous Assignments:
Annotated Bibliography
Prospectus Draft

Workshop 1 – Establishing Motive
Workshop 2 –Reading for Gist/Function/Detail
Workshop 3 – Engaging Secondary Sources and Integrating Stance
Workshop 4 – Using Quotation

Mark Gaipa, Gaipa_Engaging-Sources

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