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In “Bliss” Mansfield does not use a first-person narrator, but we still get really close to the protagonist. How does Mansfield achieve that? Free Indirect Discourse is one of the techniques she uses

Assessment 3: Detailed instructions


This essay is a typical research essay in literary studies. In an essay we are looking for a new insight into a text in response to particular question. We use research to help us understand the text in more nuance, to get an understanding of what has been said already and to find inspiration for our own response.

Ideally, a research essay is driven by personal interest and engagement with the text (without necessarily being ‘personal’ in form); it is our way of thinking with and about texts, using them for elucidation of bigger questions, our own lives, the world.

Essays in literary studies are based on close readings and research – the buildings blocks we have been working with all semester. The key terms will give you a vocabulary for your work and will also sharpen your view and help you engage meaningfully with a text. As you can see, most essay questions involve the use of key terms in one way or another.

Task details

Due Date:  4 June  23.59pm
Word Count: 1800
Value: 40%


Please choose ONE of the topics on the list. Please base your argument on at least 4 academic sources. You may NOT write again on the texts you have chosen for the Passage Analysis I & II.

5. In “Bliss” Mansfield does not use a first-person narrator, but we still get really close to  the protagonist. How does Mansfield achieve that? Free Indirect Discourse is one of the techniques she uses, but not the only one. You might want to think about things like narrative perspective, interaction between characters, use of space, symbols etc.

6.       Mad women have a long tradition in Western literature. Please discuss by building an argument why the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Between the Pool and the Gardenias” goes mad. You might want to think about pain and the role of masculine power. Please choose only ONE story.

7.       Madness is described in ambivalent terms in Danticat’s and Perkins Gilman’s stories. Please discuss by building an argument what the altered perception of reality means to the narrator in ONE story.

8.       Orlando is both a novel and a biography. Please think about how the genre conventions of both interact and shape the book. Please gather your thoughts into an argument.

9.       In Orlando Woolf destabilises our notions of sex and gender, and Orlando’s desires and their trajectory are difficult to capture with our available terminology (trans / queer / pansexual  etc.?), not least because of Woolf’s scintillating sense of irony throughout the book. Please think about the configurations of Orlando’s body and their desires. Can we label Orlando? Should we even try? Why/why not? And where do categories fall short – what are the slippages, or the excess? Please gather your thoughts into an argument.

10.   ‘The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World’ includes elements of African American music like jazz and hiphop. What are the effects? Please discuss by building an argument.

11.   Suzan-Lori Parks’ play is often discussed as a postmodern play. Please choose one or two concepts usually associated with postmodernist writing and show how they create meaning in a way that a more traditional approach could not have. Please present your ideas in a way that they amount to an overarching argument.

12.   Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’ and Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ are often read as allegorical poems. Choose ONE of these poems and discuss its allegorical meanings by building an argument. In your discussion, you might also want to consider the shortcomings of your argument – what are the strengths and the weaknesses of your attempt at capturing the meaning of the poem in a single allegorical reading?

13.   The supernatural is a prominent feature of Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’ and Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’. Why and how is it used? What does it contribute to the poem? Choose ONE of the poems and discuss by building an argument.

14.   Magic realism involves the inclusion of non-realistic elements presented as natural and real. Discuss how Winterson’s The Passion incorporates magic realism into its narrative. What does the inclusion of magical elements enable the novel to express? Please remember to build an argument.

15.   The phrase ‘I’m telling you stories. Trust me’ is repeated throughout Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion.  Discuss this phrase by building an argument in relation to the ways history and fiction are explored in the novel.

16.   The Passion has two first-person narrators, who tell their own and also a part of each other’s story. Please think about the effects of this unusual choice of narrative perspective. Please organise your discussion into a coherent argument.

17.   Form and meaning are inseparable in any text. How do the formal aspects of the short story (short duration of time, open endings, not much introduction etc.) shape our understanding of the ONE of the short stories we have read in our subject?

Where should I NOT look for research?

Hands off Google! That includes cheat sites, blogs, dot-com sources, dictionary.com and Wikipedia. They will only get you into trouble. They are not scholarly resources, so you can’t quote them. If you don’t quote them but accidentally or knowingly use ideas and material from them (and that includes even paraphrased material or just general points), you’ll get into trouble for breaching the rules of academic integrity. Seriously, it’s not worth it. Avoid Google.

Where should I look for research?

You can use any material you find on:

  • The library search engine
  • Google Scholar (which only includes academic articles)
  • Library databases

The library search engine is not very specific. I recommend the following databases on the library website:

  • MLA – the gold standard in literary studies. Most comprehensive database of articles and books in the field. We may not have everything the database brings up. You can find out by clicking on the “available @ La Trobe” link.
  • JSTOR – the biggest humanities database. Results can be a bit haphazard as the engine doesn’t easily distinguish between sociology, literary studies, nursing or archeology.
  • Project MUSE – similar to JSTOR, but more Australian content. A good database.
  • Our extended reading list
  • Anything interesting you find in the bibliographies of the articles and book chapters that you read – scanning the bibliography on an interesting article is often a good way of finding more resources in the same direction.

What is a good source?

Of course, it’s a scholarly source. It’s preferably in our field (and not nursing), and it is genuinely useful to you.

Is there a minimum number of sources?

We ask you to include at least 5 sources + the primary text. You can use the prescribed secondary readings & further readings on the reading list, but we also expect you to find at least one or two sources of your own.

In order to find 5 good sources, you will probably have to read at least 10 – so, it’s best to plan some time for researching.

What do I do with articles and book chapters that I read?

Read carefully, look up words you don’t understand, underline interesting sections for your topic, take notes and copy out useful quotations – always include the page numbers in your notes (nothing more annoying than hunting for a lost page number with a looming deadline).

Read for anything you find interesting. Research is there to give you a more comprehensive understanding of your topic, to inspire you and help you. You won’t find precise ‘answers’ to your essay question in the research, but you’ll find useful passages or ideas.

Research takes time: if you only read one or two sources and write quickly, you are likely to be swayed by them because you haven’t allowed yourself enough time to think through any pros and cons of what you’ve read.

Starting off, research can feel a bit overwhelming. The answer is usually to read more until you are beginning to recognise certain tropes and concepts. – It is like entering into an ongoing conversation: you want to listen a bit and get an idea where the talk is at before entering with a point of your own. Your contribution to the conversation will be more convincing if you can integrate and refer to what other researchers have said already.

By the way, nobody expects you to write at the level of the research you read. Write to the best of your abilities and imagine a genuinely interested and well-meaning reader who understands that you are a first-year student. Remember that your tutors and I are going to read your work – not some white-haired disgruntled professor with elbow patches peering critically over his half-moon glasses.

We reward honest effort and work and are happy when we encounter the beginning sense of confidence and creativity that comes out of doing research. However, we also understand that many of you will feel a little insecure, finding your way etc. at this point. So, my advice is: read as much as you can and write to the best of your abilities. It’s all you can ever do, in fact.

How do I use my research in the essay?

Use the research to

  • Support your own ideas (… as XYZ also notes …)
  • Take new ideas on board and respond to them (XYZ notes … this is insightful because it shows … / this is rubbish because she doesn’t realise that … )
  • Show that you understand your topic ( … much has been written on this topic (list three references), yet no one has yet looked at … / but I would like to argue something else because / I would like to add the point that … )

There are two traps when working with research:

The first is to arrive with a fully formed argument/point/opinion and just look around for some articles to find a pro-forma quote that fits in nicely with your views. We want you to engage with your readings and see that it genuinely informs your writing.

The second is to feel overwhelmed by research to the point where you don’t feel you have anything to say at all because it’s all already there. If you find you are taking all your points/ideas from your research, you need to take a step back, talk to your tutor and regain perspective. Research is there to help you, not to lead you along.

How do I build an argument?

As with your second assignment, sit down with all your ideas and observations and see if you can find a pattern and marshal them into an overarching point you can make. Your paragraphs will be the smaller or sub-points that walk your reader through your argument.

It’s NOT a good idea to think of paragraphs as topics (i.e. I’ll write a para on this and a para on that) – it’s easier if you think of them as individual points that support your overall argument.

It can help if you structure your paragraph by thinking of the point first, then find the relevant quotes from the text and sort your research into it.

Note: building your argument is time-consuming and involves some serious thinking and conceptual work. Make sure you plan enough time for it. Also note: we don’t always get to a fully blown, coherent argument. We want to see you tried to the best of your abilities.

What is the structure of this essay?

This is a classic research essay with an introduction, body paragraphs (you decide how many) and a conclusion & bibliography.

As always, TEEL is your good friend as it pushes you to think of your topic sentences rather themes for a paragraph.


Please use a readable font not smaller than 12pt. – Times New Roman is always a safe choice. Please use 1.5 or double line-spacing and leave a 4cm margin on the right side for comments.

What about the word count?


The bibliography is NOT counted.

The general rule is up to 10% above or under the word count is acceptable (that is up to 180 words over or under the word limit). Work that is excessively over the word (e.g. 2300) count will lose marks. Work that is significantly under the 10% range (e.g. 1200) is in danger of a fail grade.

Do I need to reference?

Of course, you do. All quotes and even paraphrased ideas from your research need to be fully referenced. Please use the La Trobe Harvard style.

Please don’t forget page numbers. PDFs of online articles usually have page numbers.

ENG1DPL Assessment 2 Rubric




Not Met


Clarity of


Ideas are
expressed clearly and elegantly

Most ideas are
expressed clearly

Expression of
ideas lacks clarity




Writing is
coherently structured

Writing is mostly
coherently structured

Structure remains
largely incoherent


Punctuation & 


Work is mostly
free of grammar, spelling and punctuation errors

Work shows
grammar,spelling or punctuation errors that don’t obscure the meaning


Work shows manygrammar,
spelling and/or punctuation errors thatobscure the meaning at times



Referencing is
complete and follows the Harvard Style


Referencing is complete & follows
the Harvard style with some errors


Referencing is
incomplete, missing and/or doesn’t follow the Harvard Style





Problem Solving



Work offers a
well-supported, plausible interpretation of the essay topic and text(s)
under consideration

Work offers a
plausible interpretation of  theessay topic and text(s) under

Work doesn’t offer
a plausible interpretation of the essay topic and text(s)
under consideration

Critical Thinking



Work offers a
close textual analysis of the text(s) and includes sufficient
appropriate evidence


Work offers an
analysis of the text(s) and includes mostly appropriate evidence

Textual analysis
of the text(s) remains insufficient and/or evidence may not be

Critical Thinking



Work demonstrates
independent thinking & a good awareness of the significance of the
text(s)in a wider context

Work demonstrates
an awareness of the text(s)in a wider context

Reasoning lacks
coherence at times and/or does not demonstrate an adequate understanding of
text(s) in a wider context


work successfully identifies and contextualises theoretical
concepts in secondary readings and incorporatessecondary readings
meaningfully into theresearch essay

work adequately identifies and contextualises theoretical concepts
in secondary readings and incorporatessecondary readings meaningfully into
theresearch essay

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