Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Little Paper Story

When we were asked to bring a favorite book to class, I didn't fully realize that those would be the books that we wrote our papers on.  So I just brought my favorite book, A Little Princess.  I wasn't very pleased when I realized that I would have to compare that book to Alice in Wonderland in a paper, because it didn't seem like the type of book that would work very well for a paper.  I also couldn't see anything those two books had in common.  Fortunately, I discovered along the way that it is very possible to write a paper on A Little Princess and that both books do have things in common.

I first got a general idea for a possible thesis while brainstorming similarities between Alice in Wonderland and A Little Princess in my notebook during class.  I came up with several possible angles, but I decided that I wanted to talk about how imagination worked for Sara and Alice.  My thesis was somewhat vague at that point, but I cleaned it up a bit with more brainstorming.  I think that I had my idea for the thesis and the direction my paper was going in mostly figured out while pondering my paper during English Symposium.  It also helped to get different perspectives from other people along the way.

The feedback I got didn't really figure into my paper very clearly, but it helped me to see the different ways in which my thesis could be looked at.  First I tried talking to my roommates and family members.  They mostly just provided encouragement, but my roommates did help me to consider a “so what?” for my thesis.  I also tried Facebook and Goodreads.  Neither of those were very helpful.  I did get an interesting comment on a discussion thread that I started on Goodreads, but it didn't really apply to my paper.  I looked up Alice in Wonderland and A Little Princess on Pinterest and Tumblr, but I didn't expect them to be very useful, and they weren't.  The most useful feedback came from comments on the blog and from Reddit.  I never would have thought to use Reddit for anything academic before, but I thought that I might as well try, and I was pleased to discover that there are some very intelligent people there if you look at the right subreddits.  Mostly, Reddit helped me to see places where I would have to make sure my argument was clear and firm.

I started the research process online, and there were a few interesting directions I could have gone there, but it was kind of slow initially.  Later, I went to the library and found several good sources.  Then, after getting an idea from those sources of the kind of things to look up, I went back to the internet, which was a little more effective.  I don’t think I used this as well as I could have for this paper, but I discovered for future papers that it can be useful to look up the articles that are quoted in other sources, especially if they are referenced in more than one of them.  There was one article that seemed very relevant to my paper, which was referenced in two of my other sources, but unfortunately, I couldn't find it in time.

After all of that, I still wasn't completely sure of what I wanted to say in my paper, but that became clearer as I started writing.  Soon enough, it was finished and a project that had initially seemed far too long suddenly seemed too short as I realized that my paper was far from perfect.  I edited as much as I could with some more feedback, and now, for better or worse, it is finished.

1 comment:

  1. This is kind of funny. I had the exact same experience. Although I do like the book I chose, I more or less chose it at random. I hadn't read it in years. Then I got super anxious about having to write a paper comparing it to Alice. But, like you said, it all worked out in the end.