Definition Essay & Research Project

Dr. Ray Gen


Research Project:


With a partner, carefully examine one of the following topics: the actual Salem witch trial, Puritanism, the Massachusetts Pilgrims, the McCarthy hearings, Communism in the USA from 1945-1960, the separation of church and state, theocracies, the Mayflower Compact, the history of Salem, other witch trials, Cotton Mather, etc. You may choose another related topic, but please check it with Dr. Gen before you begin. After choosing a topic, research it thoroughly and explain its significance to the play.



Definition Essay (1000 word max)

You and your partner will write a brief, yet thorough paper explaining the importance of your topic and how it relates to the play.
I. What is Definition
A. Definition: tells what a term means and how it is different from another term in its class.
B. Understanding Formal Definitions
1. As in dictionary: term, class, differentiation.
C. Understanding Extended Definition
1. Includes three parts of formal definition.
2. No set pattern to definition, follows the course of the essay pattern.
II. Using Definition
A. In an essay the extended definition is going beyond the formal definition already given, and interpreting the meaning to cover the topic, requiring more than one sentence to cover the definition.
B. Brief formal definitions in an essay can strengthen a larger extended definition when applied to a contemporary concept.
III. Planning a Definition Essay
A. Using Patters of Development
   1. Exemplification  a. Use examples to clarify a topic to unaccustomed readers  b. Interpreting an example to illustrate a point
   2. Description  a. describe something beyond what the definition covers  b. go over the physical attributes and create a visualization for the reader
   3. Comparison and contrast  a. use comparison to familiarize the reader with the topic b. use contrast to emphasize certain attributes
   4. Process  a. extend out to the process in which the topic is a part
   5. Classification and division  a. specify and label the topic to clarify its position in the scheme of things
B. Using Other Strategies
   1. Define a term by: a. using synonyms  b. using negation  c. using enumeration d. employing analogies e. discussing its origins and development
   2. Do not restate term in definition, be clear and use a true definition
IV. Structuring a Definition Essay
A. Structuring an Essay
   1. Introduction, body, conclusion
   2. In an extended definition reflects attitude or reason for defining
   3. Go beyond formal definition and explain the concept.
B. Decide on Content
   1. Find out what is suitable for topic and intended readers
   2. Choose strategy[ies] to use in essay
   3. Possible structure of essay:
            a. Introduction (with thesis) containing formal definition
            b. Background to cover what will be in the essay
            c. Examples to support thesis and extended definition
            d. Conclusion

Presentation of Paper

Your presentation may take whatever form you wish. You may write a poem, short story, fictitious diary, create a web page, do a PowerPoint presentation, create a video or audio, write a song, create an album just about anything. However, you must in your presentation relate the research topic, show how it affected play, and relate the topic to modern American life.