The Research Process Discussion Questions
1. Choose a poem we have read so far that you like and are intrigued by.
“Head, Heart” by Lydia Davis
“Poem” by Frank O’Hara
“Those Winter Sundays”
“The Act” by William Carlos Williams
“At a Certain Age” by Deborah Cummins
“For a Father” by Elise Partridge
“My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke
“After a Death” by Roo Borson
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
“This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams
“Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” by Adrienne Rich
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
“The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica” by Judith Ortiz Cofer
“Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall
“Daystar” by Rita Dove
“To a Daughter Leaving Home”
“Marks by Linda Pastan
“Do not go gentle into that good night”
“Harlem” by Langston Hughes (page 715)
2. Use the library databases to find an article on that poem or on the topic it explores.
It can be literary criticism (someone’s article about their interpretation of the poem) or topic-based (for example, a research article about climate change, if the poem is about climate or the environment).
3. Read the article and highlight passages that you think are interesting, or that make good points. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything in the entire article – literary criticism and research can be challenging to read! Focus on the points that you do understand. If you feel like the entire article is confusing, choose a different one, though. No one wants you to feel lost and confused.
4. Write a brief paragraph (three or four sentences is great) about the poem or topic. Incorporate at least one quote from the poem and one quote from the article. Remember that quotes should be integrated into your own sentences. There’s an example below, but if you’d like more guidance on integrating quotations, click here for a link to the University of New Orleans’s article on quotation integration in research papers. If you’re not sure how to format your quote, click this link for the Purdue OWL guide.
5. Include internal citations for your quotations. Poems should be cited with author’s last name and a line number (line of the poem the quote comes from). Articles should be cited with author’s last name and a page number. There’s an example below, but if you need more help with internal citations, click this link for Purdue OWL’s guide to that.
6. Include a Works Cited list for your paragraph. It should include the poem and the article. Remember that the database can usually provide the citation in MLA format for you. For more help and examples of Works Cited page, click this link for the Purdue OWL guide to Works Cited pages.
In Adrienne Rich’s poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers,” the speaker describes her aunt Jennifer as “terrified” (9) and “mastered by” (10) conflicts in her life. The speaker’s description gives readers as much information about her, the niece, as it does about the aunt. As one scholar argues, the speaker is making “judgments” about Aunt Jennifer (Rizza 65). Jennifer is, after all, able to “flutter” (Rich 5) her hands to do needlework, though the speaker views her hands as being under the “massive weight” of a wedding band (Rich 7). Michael Rizza sees this description as “contradictory,” and attributes the symbolic weight of the ring to “the niece’s judgment more than actual description” (65). It is not clear that Aunt Jennifer feels as weighed down as her niece perceives her to be.