Historical Fiction or Creative Non-fiction Project
For this project, we will start by reading a piece of premier historical fiction: Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. The purpose of reading this “novel” is to form a thorough understanding of the genre. This means, we want to understand the difference between fiction, non-fiction, and historical fiction. You will want to be thinking about a possible topic of interest to you during this segment of the course. You will want to choose a topic that you can use as a basis for your historical fiction paper and then later turn into a traditional research paper (this will be very beneficial because I will allow you to re-use four sources from your historical fiction paper when collecting sources for your traditional paper). Your topic need not be related to the events in In Cold Blood in any way: it is the style you will be emulating not the content.
For this project you will need to accumulate four sources. These sources must either be from academic/scholarly books or peer-reviewed journals. You must use some combination of books and journals. In some cases, I may allow magazines that are specialized and documented (trade journals). NO WEB PAGES WILL BE PERMITTED! Please be aware that accessing journal articles through a database such as EBSCOhost is not considered using web pages. You will complete an annotated bibliography before turning in the final research project. This paper is to run 2 to 3 pages and will contain a works consulted page and possible footnotes. There will be no in-text citation: we are able to eliminate this documentation ONLY because of the historical fiction format we are using.
For your historical fiction paper you will need to create a unique narrative voice. You may choose to speak from the viewpoint of a historical person or you may re-create a historical event through the eyes of a fictional character. Either way, you will be employing a fictional narrative stance. For example, you could pretend to be Martin Luther King, Jr. and tell his life’s story in the first person, or you could re-create the Kent State Massacre as though you were an anonymous bystander watching the events unfold. You may even find creative approaches to this project that are acceptable. For instance, you might want to set up your text in the form of letters or a journal rather than a traditional page-by-page academic organization.
The keys to this project are to
Your works consulted page will follow MLA style format and must be the last page of your project. (This will not count as the 2-3 pages of text—this will be the 3 rd or 4 th page of the paper). We will also discuss the use of footnotes: you must use a footnote in the introduction to identify your narrator as either based on a historical figure or entirely fictional. Footnotes also might be necessary if you find you want to use direct quotes in this paper. In such a case, you would want to indicate when the quotes are taken from a source and not just dialogue you made up to advance your story.
Have fun with this project—choose a topic you are really interested in learning more about! Don’t be afraid to be creative!
Traditional Research Project
This project will be a traditional research paper. You will take the topic from your historical fiction paper and turn it into an MLA documented piece of research. You are allowed to re-use acceptable sources from your historical fiction paper, and you will need to do some additional research as well. Seven sources are required for the traditional research paper. This project will be four to five pages plus a works cited page. You will submit a prospectus (a topic proposal) and a second annotated bibliography prior to the final due date of this project.
The criteria for your sources will remain the same as that for your historical fiction paper. These sources must either be from academic/scholarly books or peer-reviewed journals (a combination of books and journals is required). In some cases, I may allow magazines that are specialized and documented (trade journals). NO WEB PAGES WILL BE PERMITTED! Please be aware that accessing journal articles through a database such as EBSCOhost is not considered using web pages. Because we are no longer working in the historical fiction genre, in-text citations MUST be included in correct MLA format. I will be looking for correct paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting techniques including correct form for long and short quotes. In addition, it will be imperative that you are selective and responsible in the application of your sources.
It is important to distinguish the differences between this project and your historical fiction research project. The most noticeable difference is, of course, that you will not have a fictional narrative voice. Instead of telling a story in the first person, you will be telling it in the third person, as a student reporting facts to his/her audience. While you can write an argumentative paper if you would like, it is acceptable and perhaps preferable to simply use an informational research approach. In addition, each and every borrowed idea—everything that is not common knowledge—must be accurately indicated via in-text (or parenthetical) citations.
The keys to this project are to
Remember, there are three ways to borrow information from a source: summarize, paraphrase, or quote. I will be looking for the implementation of all three of these in your paper. Familiarize yourself with your MLA handbook—you are not expected to memorize the formats; you are expected to understand how to use the handbook as an aid to correctly cite your sources throughout your work. Also be aware that each and every source listed on your works cited page must be cited at least once in your research paper.