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English research paper?

I did my undergrad in a non-traditional, interdisciplinary program where I studied a hybrid of several different non-disciplines. I took five years off, and I am now in a more traditional English M.A. program. I am only now discovering that I don't always know how to work within the confines of the English discipline...in all my papers I seem to be doing *something* wrong, but no one will tell me exactly what, because I'm sure I was supposed to have learned it eight years ago.

So the question is...what exactly distinguishes the research element an English research paper? Is it enough to engage with scholarly articles and criticism on the subject, or do I have to directly address some aspect of the author's biography the way most of my fellow students seem to be doing? What percentage of the paper should be directly addressing the research? My professor seems to prefer pretty straightforward analysis, and the Marxist Formalist method that got me through undergrad hasn't really worked for him in the earlier papers I've written.

I would ask my professor, but I'm already afraid he thinks I'm sort of an idiot.

cross-posted to gradstudents


Oct. 12th, 2016 04:39 am (UTC)
I would ask my professor but I'm already afraid he thinks I'm sort of an idiot