Author: Ireland,UCD School of English, Drama and Film

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The Internet, Online, 25/11/2015

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Writing essays at third level differs in several respects from other types of writing (e.g. compositions, technical reports, newspaper articles, or letters). An academic essay is a formal piece of writing, which means that it must adhere to certain standards in style, argument, layout and presentation. While your tutor/seminar leader will advise you on matters of style and argument, this sheet explains what is expected of you in terms of layout and presentation. The style required by the School is that of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. MLA style is an efficient and accurate way of presenting evidence in a scholarly essay.  As the examples below show, very limited information is provided in the body of the text.  This information is a signpost or key to a full bibliographical listing in a Works Cited section.  Please Note: Citations in the style recommended by MLA (the use of brackets, etc.) are to be used instead of footnotes and endnotes. See an edition of the MLA Handbook in the UCD library for information on footnotes and endnotes.

1) General

Before submitting your essay, carefully check all of the following:

  • spellings are correct; pay particular attention to proper names (e.g. Spenser, Woolf, MacNeice);
  • punctuation is clear and aids understanding;
  • grammar and syntax are correct and clear;
  • all quotations are accurately transcribed;
  • titles of books, plays, films, etc. are italicised or underlined;
  • chapters in books, individual poems not published as books, short stories, essays, articles, etc. are placed in inverted commas (double quotation marks);
  • double-spacing is used throughout your essay (single-spacing is used here to save space);
  • the essay is easy to read (leave a wide left-hand margin for comments by your tutor/seminar leader)
  • all relevant details are included on the cover-sheet provided (your name, tutor’s/seminar leader’s name, essay title, etc.).

2) List of works cited

One key difference between the kinds of writing you will have done before and third level essays is the need to provide sources for the texts you quote and discuss, including secondary material. To do this, you must keep a record of all the materials you have consulted in preparing your essay and organise them into a Works Cited* section. This should be ready BEFORE you write your essay so that you can use it to give sources for your citations (see 3 below). You must follow the format below in all particulars, including punctuation, underlining and indentation. The Works Cited section should be arranged alphabetically by author’s surname and placed at the end of your essay on a separate page.

*A Works Cited section is a list of all primary and secondary material cited in your essay (this may include non-print sources).

How to list a book in a Works Cited section:

Author’s surname, first name. Book Title. Ed. Name of editor(s). [if applicable]. Place: publisher, date.

e.g. Eliot, George. Middlemarch. Ed. David Carroll. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988.

How to list a work in an anthology in a Works Cited section:

Author’s surname, first name. “Title.” Title of anthology. Ed. Name of editor(s). [if applicable]. Place: publisher, date. Start page-end page.

e.g. Plath, Sylvia. “Tulips.” The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 3rd ed. Ed. Alexander Allison et al. New York: Norton, 1983. 1348-49.

How to list an article in a journal in a Works Cited section:

Author’s surname, first name. “Title of the article.” Title of Periodical volume number. Issue number [if applicable] (date): start page-end page.

e.g. McLeod, Randall. “Unemending Shakespeare’s Sonnet 111.” Studies in English Literature 21 (1981): 75-96.

How to list an essay in a book in a Works Cited section:

Author’s surname, first name. “Title of essay.” Title of book. Ed. Name of editor(s). [if applicable].  Place: publisher, date. Start page-end page.

e.g. Wayne, Valerie. “Historical Differences: Misogyny and Othello.” The Matter of Difference: Materialist Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Ed. Valerie Wayne. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991. 153-79.

How to list a play in a Works Cited section:

References to a printed play should use the format given above for a book. However, this is a printed record of a work that is intended to be performed and your essay may be referring to a particular performance or series of performances. In such cases, additional information to be provided (such as the director, theatre company, and place and date of performance) should be included in brackets.

Playwright’s surname, first name. Title. Editor/edition information. Place: publisher, date. Dir. Director’s name. Theatre Company. Theatre. Date of performance.

e.g. Miller, Arthur, Death of a Salesman. New York: Viking Press, 1977. Dir. Joe Dowling, Guthrie Theater, Gaiety Theatre Dublin, Sept 27 2004.

How to list a film in a Works Cited section:

A film is a permanent record of a performance yet different versions may exist (such as a director’s cut or a remastered version) or some versions may include additional material (such as DVD extras); this information should be given in brackets. Due to the collaborative nature of film production and depending on the focus of your essay, further information on screenwriter, producer, director of photography, film composer etc. may be required. References to a published screenplay should use the format given above for a book, inserting the words “Screenplay of” before the film title.

The basic entry is: Director’s/screenwriter’s surname [this is most commonly director but will depend on your focus], first name. Film Title. Original release year. (Version details).

e.g. Hitchcock, Alfred. The Birds. 1963. (Universal Video, 1987).

Additional roles (if given) should be listed after the film title and preceded by the appropriate abbreviation: Dir. [director], Scr. [screenwriter], Perf. [performer], DOP [director of photography], Comp. [composer].

e.g. Hitchcock, Alfred. North by Northwest. Scr. Ernest Lehman. 1959. (Warner DVD, 2001).

If referencing the screenplay itself, this would be given as: Lehman, Ernest. Screenplay of North by Northwest. London: Faber, 1999.

3) Linking your citations to the Works Cited section

Your quotations should be relevant and support your argument by providing a specific illustration of a point or an idea. There are basically three types of citation which will require supporting references:

a)     Direct quotation should always be precise in all details (including spelling, punctuation, and lineation, where relevant—most often for poetry and sometimes for drama), and include an accurate page or pages reference.

b)    Close paraphrase and citation of information should also be accurate, and should be accompanied by a page or pages reference.

c)     Loose paraphrase or general ascriptions of points of view should be accompanied by a reference to the source or sources. Even though you have not used a direct quotation or a close paraphrase, you must make it clear that the argument comes from a particular source or sources by listing the book or article, etc. (or the specific chapter in the book or section of the article, etc.) from which you have drawn the argument.

If your Works Cited section is correct and complete, placing accurate references for quotations and arguments in the body of your essay will be simple. Quotations MUST be exact in every detail. The citation of the source should follow the quotation and must be placed in brackets. Not citing your sources properly exposes you to the charge of PLAGIARISM which may result in deduction of marks and/or disciplinary action (see separate school guidelines on plagiarism on Blackboard or the school website). The full citations for the examples given here can be found in section 4, set out as they would be in a full Works Cited section.

How to quote passages from PROSE and key your quotations to a Works Cited section:Short quotations (less than 4 lines of prose) should be placed in quotation marks within the text:

Middlemarch’s opening sentence is simple, but effective: “Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress” (Eliot 7).

This also applies to secondary sources which are a significant part of your essay:

Michael McKeon suggests that the “origins of the English novel occur at the end point of a long history of ‘novelistic usage’” (19). [NB: McKeon gives the phrase “novelistic usage” in quotation marks; we use single quotation marks for quotes within a quote – you must clearly indicate where both types of quote end, even if this requires two consecutive sets of quotation marks as it does here.]

Longer quotations should be indented from the margin and do not usually require quotation marks:

In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses a fragmented style to convey her central character’s mental fragility. For example:

There were greenhouses, too, but they are all broken now.

There was legal trouble, I believe, something about the heirs and co-heirs; anyhow,

the place has been empty for years. That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don’t care–there is something strange about the house–I can feel it. (155)

NB. As some sentences introduce quotations by identifying the source, there is no need to spell it out again in the citation (see the previous two examples).

How to quote passages from POETRY and key your quotations to a Works Cited section:Short quotations (up to 3 lines) may be included within the text. Parenthetical citations should list LINE numbers (if available) and not page references. The initial citation for the poem should include the word “line” (or “lines”) to establish that the numbers designate lines:

Ben Jonson quickly introduces us to the twin themes of his elegy on Shakespeare by referring to his “book and fame” (“To the Memory of My Beloved” line 2)

As this is the initial reference to the poem, the word “line” is included in the citation.

Longer quotations must be indented from the margin. You must follow the layout of the poem from which you are quoting.

Jonson signals the fact that Shakespeare is exceptional by using exclamation marks and by suggesting that he is the best of poets:

I therefore will begin. Soul of the age! The applause! Delight! The wonder of our stage!

My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by Chaucer or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie A little further to make thee a room: (“To the Memory of My Beloved” 17-21)

As this is the second reference to the poem, the word “line” is omitted from the citation.

How to quote passages from DRAMA and key your quotations to a Works Cited section:The same rules on length apply here as with poetry and prose (above). However, if quoting dialogue between two or more characters, you must indent the quotation, and list the characters’ names, followed by a period (full stop):

Throughout Othello Iago proves to be a master manipulator of language, using insinuation and inference to plant suspicion in Othello’s mind:

IAGO. Ha! I like not that. OTHELLO.             What dost thou say? IAGO. Nothing, my lord; or if–I know not what. OTHELLO. Was not that Cassio parted from my wife? IAGO. Cassio, my lord? No, sure I cannot think it    That he would steal away so guilty-like,    Seeing you coming. OTHELLO.               I do believe ’twas he. (3.3.34-40)

The citation must include act (3.3.34-40), scene (3.3.34-40) and line numbers (3.3.34-40), as above.

NOTE: when you quote from Shakespeare or any other dramatist make sure that you state the edition used. This will appear in your Works Cited section as below. It should always be a “reputable” edition rather than, for example, a schools’ edition.

How to quote from FILM sources and key your quotations to a Works Cited section:The same rules apply as for prose and drama in terms of length and dialogue between characters. However, unlike print sources, you cannot identify the place in the text by a page number (unless you are referring to the screenplay). If you are working from a DVD, you should note the chapter number; if you are working from a video, note the elapsed time in minutes. In both cases, ensure that the version details are included in your Works Cited entry.

e.g The inter-title which prefaces each individual narrative in About Adam allows the audience understand what attracts each character to Adam. Serial dater Lucy is intrigued by his apparent shyness: “ fact, Adam didn’t even come on to me..” (Ch. 2).

Remember that DVD titles often give shortened versions of the film dialogue; it is preferable to listen carefully to the recording in order to accurately transcribe dialogue. Beware of relying only on the film’s spoken language however; to engage with this medium also requires an appreciation of the visual and aural registers and how these are constructed within film.

e.g Just before Lucy sees Adam she is singing “Some day he’ll come along – the man I love” while the camera, operating from her point of view, pans over the diegetic audience. Her interior thoughts are given as voiceover and the film’s audience sees Adam just before Lucy notices him. Inter-title, soundtrack, camera action, and voiceover therefore operate to give the film’s audience access to Lucy’s thoughts, while foreshadowing the love that the film later does so much to undermine (Ch. 2).

How to quote from Online sources and key your quotations to a Works Cited section:The example below includes a quotation from a book. However, the source of the quotation is not a printed book but an electronic version online.

Harriet Jacobs begins her account of her life with a dramatic image of childhood innocence: “I WAS [sic] born a slave; but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away” (Jacobs ch.1).

NB: The use of [sic] indicates that you are quoting accurately from the text and that the capitalised “WAS” is not your typographical error.

This is a text taken from a web site. To cite it correctly you must enter information as detailed as that required for a print source (see above). However, as your source is a web site, you must include:

a)     date you accessed the site

b)    address of the site, enclosed in angle brackets, < > (see example in the Works Cited below)

If the information you require is not displayed on the site, include what is listed. In doing so, you are making your sources available to your reader as you make printed books available by listing editions and publication details. The “date of access” is important. Sites can be changed relatively easily and your tutor/seminar leader might open a site which has changed significantly from the one you used a day or two earlier. Finally, it is advisable to print the material you use from a web site so that you can verify your source if the site cannot be located by your tutor/seminar leader.

4) Works Cited (for the examples in section 3, above)

Eliot, George. Middlemarch. Ed. David Carroll. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The Oxford Book of American Short Stories. Ed.Joyce Carol Oates. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. 154-69.

read the rest online……….


About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

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