“My Papa’s Waltz” – family violence
- MLA formatted Word document
- 5-6 pages (approx. 1600-1800 words)
- At least 5 sources
o Minimum of 3 sources must be academic (library database)
o Up to 2 sources may be news or other sources (verified and reliable)
Step 1 – Topic:
Choose a topic explored in one of the literary pieces that we have read. I’d recommend that you choose a
topic you care about or are interested in.
Your essay should be centrally focused on an arguable claim related to the topic. The piece of literature
should not be the focus on the essay.
- Some ideas:
o “A Wall of Fire Rising” – income inequality, suicide, or immigration
o “Boys and Girls” – misogyny, gender roles, farming in US
o “A Good Man is Hard to Find” – any criminal justice related topic, including gun
violence or the death penalty
o “Cathedral” – topics related to art, blindness, physical disability or disability
o “My Papa’s Waltz” – family violence, alcoholism
Step 2 – Research Question:
Once you’ve chosen a general topic, you’ll need to narrow down your research. Topics like “immigration”
or “gun violence” are far too broad for an essay of this length, so figure out exactly what you want to
research and focus on.
This website can help you formulate a research question for your topic.
Step 3: Thesis Statement:
A thesis statement is (a) arguable (b) supportable and (c) a preview of your essay.
- Arguable means it’s not a statement of fact. It doesn’t have to be controversial or persuasive,
but it cannot be factual or obvious.
o An example of an arguable claim is “Disability accommodations in public institutions
are not only legally required in the US, they provide opportunity and benefit
o Notice that the arguable claim makes a statement and takes a side, but is not
necessarily trying to evoke any action from the reader.
- Supportable means it’s not an opinion, guess, or generalization. It has to be something that
research can back up and support. It cannot be a statement about morals or values, that
something is “right” or “wrong,” or “good” or “bad.”
- A preview of your essay means that your thesis tells us your topic, your stance, and what you’ll
cover in your essay.
Click this link for a great resource for more information on thesis statements.
Click this link for another resource on thesis statements for research papers.
- Your essay should have at least 5 sources.
- At least 3 of these sources should be from the academic databases.
- Up to 2 of these sources can be from reputable popular sources, like The Washington Post.
- Do not use blogs, personal webpages, or sites like Sparknotes or poemhunter.
Your essay should have at least 4 paragraphs: Introduction (containing thesis), 2 discussion sections where
you present supporting points, and conclusion.
• Lead In
• Background on topic
• Thesis Statement
Discussion Sections (you should have at least 2 – each should contain the following)
• Topic Sentence
• Example from Research
• Summarize arguments
• Project into the future, offer suggestions for further research, identify topics otherwise
unexplored, connect to introduction, or connect to current event
The literary text
You may make use of how the literary text discusses the topic. For instance, if there are quotes from the
story that illustrate or support a point you are making, you can use that quote. In that case, the poem or
story would count as a source (a non-scholarly source). You can, but you are not required to, use the literary
text in your essay