When writing about literature, you follow the same basic conventions required of any expository essay. That is, you

--state a thesis in your introduction

--develop that thesis by giving supporting reasons and evidence in the body of the essay

--conclude with a summary of your main points and a restatement of the thesis

--cite and document any quotes.

There are a few conventions in writing about literature of which you should be aware.

In the "Files" section on Canvas there are detailed instructions on how to write about fiction, poetry, and drama. These include examples of rough drafts, revisions, and completed papers. I strongly recommend that you read these; they will give you a much clearer idea of what is expected of your papers.

For information on using MLA format to cite and document correctly, see The Writing Tutorial Services at Indiana University, or The Purdue University Online Writing Lab.

About Wikipedia, SparkNotes, and Databases

DO NOT cite Wikipedia in academic essays. Since it is not edited by reputable experts, it often has errors and isn't reliable. It's okay to use it as a starting point for your own research, but go on and find other sources to verify the information, and cite those in your essay.

Also avoid SparkNotes, ENotes and similar sites. Teachers hate them since they provide only the most superficial analyses. Avoid citing them in academic papers; instead, go find analyses from more reputable academic sources: university and scholarly websites, peer-reviewed journals in library databases, and books. Don't be scared by that word "databases." The databases are just collected electronic versions of articles published in print magazines, journals, and newspapers. They also sometimes contain e-books. You can search them and find tons of good material. There's more about how to use the databases in the next section on this page.

LAHC Library Research

As long as you're registered at LA Harbor College, you have access to a number of databases through the Harbor College library. Those databases have tons of articles on all subjects from many periodicals, including professional and scholarly journals. You can access the databases from the following link; from there, just follow the directions to log into the system:

Los Angeles Harbor College Databases

The most effective way to search these databases is to use the "keyword" option at first, to get the broadest search results.

For example: let's say I want to create a museum about old cars, from 1968 back to the beginning.

I would go to the databases main page and try one of the unspecialized databases, "All EBSCO Databases." This would take me to a page which asks which database I would like to use. I would click "Select All" and then click "Continue." This would take me to a page with search boxes. In the main search box, I would type in "antique cars" and leave everything else blank. The first search would produce over 10,000 results. Lots of these will be useless, of course, but some may be of help. There's an article on a classic car museum in Canton, Ohio, for example, and articles on classic car auctions in various places (that could help with acquisitions). To narrow your results, you can add search words to the other boxes as well. You will probably find many more articles than you need. That's okay--it just gives you lots of choices.

Don't forget books; books are good!

Depending on your topic, there may have been books written about your area of interest, as well. To find books on your subject, search the LAHC book catalog. Go to the LAHC Library page and click on the "Search Library Catalog" link. (There's also a link to click if you're off-campus.)

Please feel free to contact me or the librarians if you need help navigating the databases or catalog.

And if you need help getting started or with a rough draft, please feel free to see me in my office (my office location and hours are posted on the Schedule) or e-mail me at annw708@gmail.com.