Write a multicultural research essay



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For this assignment, you will write a research essay that compares a cultural element depicted in a non-American novel with research about that cultural element in history.  This essay is a cornerstone project, which is a multi-faceted assignment that serves as a foundational experience for you at the beginning of your academic program.  Writing this essay will help improve your research, writing, and analytical skills.  Also, writing the essay will help you to evaluate information, improve your digital literacy, and become more understanding of global issues.


Writing the research essay will meet several course competencies, including demonstrating basic information literacy skills, analyzing multiculturalism in a non-American novel, internally documenting literary and scholarly works using current MLA guidelines, and creating works cited entries for literary and scholarly works using current MLA guidelines.


The final research essay will be worth 20%, the annotated bibliography and mid-paper reflection for the research essay will total 5%, and the final reflection is worth 3%, together equaling 28% of your total grade.




You will write a multicultural research essay that compares a cultural aspect of a novel to the real culture portrayed.  As your focus, you should choose a specific cultural aspect depicted in the novel you have chosen.  Your essay will determine the accuracy of the novel’s portrayal of your chosen cultural aspect. For example, how well does Anna Karenina portray the legalities of marriage and divorce in late 19th century Russia?  The length requirement for this essay is 2300-2800 words, not including the endorsement or works cited page.  Your works cited page should include the multicultural novel you have chosen and five additional scholarly sources to support your claim about the novel. That means you should have at least six authoritative sources on your works cited page.  You must adequately quote and paraphrase from all sources with correct documentation.  A good number of source uses is 6-10 significant uses from the novel and 1-2 significant uses for each of the scholarly sources.  That is a bare minimum of eleven source uses (quotes, paraphrases, or summaries) in your essay.


When discussing the novel, use literary present tense. When you discuss historical aspects, these points should be made in past tense.  In your introduction, you should identify the novel, author, and setting. You may give a short summary of the novel in your introduction to set up your thesis, and you should preview the points you will use to support your thesis.  Your thesis should judge the accuracy of the depiction of a particular cultural aspect in your chosen novel.  You may give background of your author if it pertains to the topic of your essay.  Do not include irrelevant aspects of your author’s biography.  Your topic sentences should be support points for your thesis.  Each body paragraph should use illustrations from the novel and/or scholarly sources to support its topic sentence.  You may restate your main points briefly, but remember to discuss the importance of your essay.  Only repeating your main points is not a complete conclusion.  You should leave your audience with a strong conclusion and psychological closure.


Late essays will not be accepted.  Failure to meet the length/source requirements will result in a non-passing grade.  If your essay is not turned in correctly or on time, your essay may receive a grade of zero.  Please follow all requirements on the policies for assignments document.

Here is a breakdown of the assignment requirements:


  1. Choose a non-American novel from the provided list by week 5. Novels on this list are written by non-American authors and focus on non-American cultures.
  2. Submit your novel choice in week 5. This will count as part of your daily grade.  The submission link is in Blackboard, in the multicultural research essay folder.
  3. Complete the library quizzes by week 6.
  4. Acquire a copy of your novel by the beginning of week 6. You may get a copy of your novel at the TCTC library, your local library, from Amazon, or a book store.  Many of the novels are available electronically through the TCTC eBook databases.  Please don’t wait to start looking.  You should be ready to start reading by week 6.
  5. Read and take notes on the novel by week 7. Depending on your reading and note-taking speed and the length of your chosen novel, it might take you longer or less time to read than your fellow students.  Creating a reading calendar will greatly benefit you.  You will need to read this novel on your own as you’re continuing to read texts according to the class schedule.
  6. Assess the culture portrayed in your novel (location and time period) by week 7. As you’re reading, you should get a clear picture of when and where your novel takes place.  You can also get help by reading the Novels for Students entry for your novel, available in the Gale Virtual Reference Library through TCTC.
  7. Choose a cultural element portrayed in your novel as the focus of your paper by week 8. Some cultural elements are gender roles, courtship rituals, religion, the prison system, laws and regulations, wars, movements, rebellions, the political system, food, music, philosophy, and clothing.  You should choose one cultural aspect as your essay’s focus.
  8. Research your chosen cultural element by week 9. For example, if your novel is Like Water for Chocolate, and you chose “food” as your cultural element, you would research food culture in Mexico in the early 1900s.  You would specifically look for research that parallels scenes and portrayals in the book, like food preparation, the kinds of food commonly eaten, and food for celebrations.
  9. Submit an annotated bibliography, worth 4%, in week 9. Putting together an annotated bibliography will help ensure you know how to document your sources, and will help you organize your thoughts.  For those of you who have never done an annotated bib before, it is a great way to keep your research and thoughts organized as you write your papers. You will need an entry for each source you plan to use, so at least six entries. You will provide a full MLA-style entry for the source, just like you would on the works-cited page of your essay. However, under each entry you will include a summary of that source. In your summary you will discuss how the author’s points correspond to your own. For the novel entry, you will just give a summary.  You will use each entry to capture useful quotes or passages that you wish to quote in your own essay. Each of the six entries should be at least one full paragraph and contain at least one direct quote or paraphrase.  You may find that some entries are longer than others, which is fine.
  10. Mid-paper reflection, worth 1%, due by week 9. For your mid-paper reflection, you will write 250-350 words that discuss where you are in your process, such as what you’ve learned so far, what cultural aspect you will discuss in your essay, why you chose the sources on your annotated bibliography, and what you are finding difficult.  This should be submitted to Blackboard.
  11. Write a draft of your research essay that evaluates the novel’s accuracy in portraying the cultural element you have chosen as your essay’s focus by week 13. Like reading the novel, you may want to create a calendar for yourself for weeks 9-13, so that you can reach mini-goals.  Examples are when you want to have your introduction finished, or you could break it down by word count and have 500 words due every five days or so.
  12. Complete a peer review, worth part of your daily grade, in week 13.
  13. Submit your final research essay, worth 20%, in week 14 (by April 30). Your research essay is due in print form and electronically to Blackboard by the due date.  You must also electronically submit scans of the sources you used, only the pages from which you quoted or paraphrased, by the beginning of class on the due date.
  14. Final reflection, worth 20% of your final exam grade, due in week 14 (by April 30). For your final reflection, you will answer questions on the final reflection worksheet.  This should be submitted to Blackboard by the time of the final exam.



Your essay will be graded on grammar and mechanics, title, formatting, documentation, organization, structure, development, style, cohesion, and unity.  Your annotated bibliography will be graded on grammar and mechanics, formatting, authority of your sources, and organization.  The performance assessment tasks for the multicultural essay are available in Blackboard for you to use as a checklist prior to submitting your essay.

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