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An introduction paragraph with your thesis highlighted yellow. Be sure that your introduction paragraph starts generally by introducing the topic and any background information you want to include. It should end with an argumentative sentence that makes a claim about Watchmen using one of the five critical approaches.Then, you must include an outline of what your 4-8 body paragraphs will be about. Please use numbering or bullet points, and be specific by indicating a clear topic or even a complete topic sentence that makes a claim about your topic. Remember that this will be an argumentative paper, so do not simply summarize the sources you have read.Thesis Statement=Yellow (Last sentence or two of introduction paragraph)Countering Move=Blue (This is when you are using a quote or idea from one of your outside sources and countering that person’s ideas. You need a minimum of one countering move.)So what I’d like back is a introduction and an outline of body paragraphs of the essay.


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Five Critical Approaches to Literature
*Adapted from Chapter 6 of Writing Essays about Literature
The terms literary theory and critical theory refer to essentially the same fields of study. They
both address ways of looking at literature beyond the typical plot-theme-character-setting
studies. Just as a perspective is a way of looking at something, a critical perspective is a way of
criticizing or analyzing literature. Your critical perspective is the view you bring to the literature
you read.
This approach looks at the ways in which characters are portrayed while examining societal
expectations/expected gender roles of each. Cultural traits and sexuality are also explored. Subcategories include Feminism and Queer Theory.
Feminist criticism tries to correct predominantly male-dominated critical perspective with a
feminist consciousness. This form of criticism places literature in a social context and employs a
broad range of disciplines, such as history, psychology, sociology, and linguistics, to create a
perspective that considers feminist issues. Feminist theories also attempt to understand
representation from a woman’s point of view and analyze women’s writing strategies in the
context of their social conditions.
Queer theory overlaps in many respects with feminist theory in its aims and goals, being at once
political and practical. To many queer theorists, gender is not a fixed identity that shapes actions
and thoughts, but rather a “role” that is “performed.” It also challenges the notion that there is
such a thing as “normal,” because that assumes the existence of a category for “deviant.” Queer
theorists study and challenge the idea that these categories exist at all, but particularly in terms of
sexual activities and identities.
Overall, focus on analyzing the significance of the interactions between characters or the deeper
social criticisms being made by the author.
Questions to Consider:
o How are gender roles constructed or deconstructed in this text?
o Which group(s) are marginalized throughout the novel, and in what ways?
Pitfalls (Fallacious Thinking):
o Avoid making judgment calls, victim blaming, or trying to explain why a character’s
actions led to his/her being targeted for a crime.
o Avoid assuming that because an author portrays a group as marginalized, he/she is sexist.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a theorist and historian. After examining social organization in a
scientific way (thereby creating a methodology for social science: political science), he perceived
human history to have consisted of a series of struggles between classes–between the oppressed
and the oppressing.
This approach views a work politically and economically. The characters in the story are set in a
level of social structure, and in turn, this affects them. For example, a character with high money
and power is able to behave a certain way because of money and power. Or, another character is
not allowed to act a certain way because the government does not allow them to. It directs
attention to the idea that all language makes ideological statements about things like class,
economics, race, and power, and the function of literary output is to either support or criticize the
political and economic structures in place.
Some Marxist critics use literature to describe the competing socioeconomic interests that
advance capitalistic interests such as money and power over socialist interests such as morality
and justice. Because of this focus, Marxist criticism focuses on content and theme rather than
Questions to Consider:
o How do the characters’ social statuses or desire for those statuses contribute to their
motivations, actions, and/or treatment within the novel?
o Do any of the characters overcome oppression, and if so, how?
o Are certain social conflicts ignored or blamed elsewhere?
Pitfalls (Fallacious Thinking):
o Avoid making assumptions about the author’s political beliefs and making the paper a
biographical examination.
o Avoid reductive ways of applying Marxist theory, such as only focusing on economics or
using moral equivocation when identifying which characters are rich or poor.
This approach is concerned with relating the idea of a text to other key concepts: culture,
discourse, ideology, the self, and history. New Historicists examine intersections of text, reader,
and history and with a special emphasis on literature as a cultural text. New Historicists also
examine the relationship of literature to the power structures of society.
New historicists address many different dimensions of a culture, including political, social,
economic, and aesthetic concerns. They regard texts as not simply a reflection of the culture that
produced them but also as productive of that culture by playing an active role in the social and
political conflicts of an age. New historicism acknowledges and then explores various versions
of “history,” sensitizing us to the fact that the history on which we choose to focus is colored by
being reconstructed by our present perspective.
In other words, with this approach, one could analyze the historical events the literature is
referencing or re-imagining as well as the historical events surrounding the readers at the time
the work was published.
Questions to Consider:
o What historical events leading up to and during the 1980s might have contributed to the
events, themes, or symbolism within the graphic novel?
o How does history help shed light on the nature of the hero in this society?
Pitfalls (Fallacious Thinking):
o Avoid reductive ways of approaching the text, such as merely identifying which
historical events, images, or figures appear in a work without analyzing the significance
behind why they appear or how their appearance impacts the work as a whole.
o Avoid assuming that a direct comparison can be made between the culture as presented in
the text and the culture as it really was in real-life. In fiction, the reality those characters
are living in is not necessarily indicative of the reality folks were living in during the time
the book was written or the time in which the events in the story take place.
This approach looks at the psychological motivations behind the characters and their decisions.
Perhaps these decisions are based on conscious desires, or their decisions could be based on
unconscious motivations.
Freud believed that everything is based off of pleasure, sexuality, wish-fulfillment, repression,
and the unconscious while Jung believed in individualism and reflections between symbols and
people. Finding some overviews of their theories in your research would be a helpful place to
This approach argues that through literature, writers can show true human nature and human’s
complexity through their work and characters. Therefore, evaluating some of the unconscious
thoughts, dreams, etc. in accordance with some larger theme or issue going on in the text is
Questions to Consider:
o How can symbols reflect the psychological desires of a character (or characters)?
o How do certain characters and their actions represent Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego?
o How can a specific psychological theory be applied to the characters’ actions?
Pitfalls (Fallacious Thinking):
o Avoid diagnosing characters with mental (psychosomatic) illnesses. Unless you are a
licensed psychiatrist, this would never be appropriate for literary criticism.
o Avoid focusing on the author’s psychological motivations instead of the characters’
This approach is a way of interpreting literature through nature and the ecosystem. It deals with
not only nature as an individual entity, but the positive and negative relationships between nature
and humankind.
Questions to Consider:
o How do themes within the novel reflect ecocriticism?
o What kinds of criticisms of man’s relationship with/effect on nature are made through the
use of setting?
English 124
Instructor: Sarah Martin
Watchmen Research Paper
150 points
Provide an in-depth exploration of the graphic novel Watchmen. You will apply one of the five critical
approaches we discussed (historical, psychological, gender, eco-critical, or Marxist) while emphasizing
the graphic (visual) elements in your evidence. Your essay must be 2000-3000 words, not including the
Works Cited page. Further, you must cite 5-10 credible sources— peer-reviewed scholarly journal
articles or professionally published books— and document them using MLA format and the Grossmont
College Library databases.
Audience, Evidence, and Structure
Assume that while your readers have already read Watchmen, they have not read the outside sources you
will be providing to back up your claims.
 Begin each body paragraph with a claim that relates clearly back to your thesis statement. In
other words, do not let your outside sources drive the structure of your essay by simply
summarizing what others have to say. Be sure your thesis statement and claims all clearly reflect
one of the critical approaches.
 Find sources that are credible and appropriate. Refer back to “Researching Credible Sources” for
help on how to navigate the article databases on the Grossmont College Library’s web site.
 Quote, paraphrase, and summarize amply, including chapter and page numbers. In addition, you
need to effectively integrate your 5-10 outside sources. Use standard MLA format to cite these,
and follow the 5-step process laid out for you in “Quoting Sources Using MLA.”
 Incorporate evidence from both the graphic novel and an outside source in each body
paragraph—this includes both quotes and images. When referencing any examples from
Watchmen, cite the chapter, page, and panel number.
 Include at least one countering move. This will be highlighted blue.
How to Use both Forwarding & Countering Moves with Outside Sources
 Support your own ideas with the prestige of established critics’ names, essentially augmenting
your authority via academic name-dropping.
 Disagree with a known critic, challenging his or her ideas. Do not be intimidated by big names:
Your challenge more than likely will be welcome to many readers who share your disagreement.
 Accept a critic’s general statement and apply it specifically—perhaps in ways not originally
intended by the critic.
 Conversely you can accept a critic’s specific statement and apply it generally.
 You do not need to find critics who write expressly about your topic. In fact, the stronger, the
more original your thinking, the less likely it will be that you will find such specific support.
Instead find critics who develop related ideas.

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