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James Baldwin: Biographical context research essay

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Your task is to write a biographical context research essay, which means that you will research the life of an author and demonstrate how the author’s life has directly influenced his or her literary work.

You will use the literary work as evidence for your three-point thesis. Be sure to argue a thesis statement that goes beyond the obvious and is worth proving. DIRECTIONS: Write a five-paragraph biographical context research essay on ONE of the
following texts. (Remember, you are NOT summarizing the author’s life. You are examining the author’s life and its influence on his or her writings. James Baldwin and “Sonny’s Blues. Remember, your thesis must go beyond the obvious. For example, stating that James Baldwin was an African American and his character Sonny was an African American is not a valid point!
It is obvious that both individuals are African American. You must research Baldwin’s life
deeper in order to find unique things about his life that have influenced his writing. Each body paragraph will be ONE point from the thesis. So you will argue three ways that the author’s life has influenced his or her writing (three ways ? three-point thesis ? three bodyparagraphs). Within your biographical context research essay, be sure to provide textual support (i.e., direct quotations). You are required to incorporate at least two direct quotations for EACH body paragraph as evidence for your claim. You will rely on your own reading of the short story, scholarly online books, and scholarly online articles accessed from the Shelton State Library’s
databases. (See below under SOURCES for more information.) You will need to quote BOTH the short story AND the scholarly book/article in all three body paragraphs, which will give you two direct quotations per body paragraph.

EXAMPLE: Let’s take an *imaginary* author called Tucker Smithfield. Smithfield created an *imaginary* short story called “Three Generations.” In his short story, he has several characters,
including a grandmother who secretly sells illegal liquor out of her basement, a mother who is put into an insane asylum, and a daughter who runs away when she is sixteen. As you research Smithfield’s life, you find that he had a childhood friend who came to live with his family at the age of five because the friend’s mom had a mental breakdown. You can then argue that the
insanity of the mother in the short story “Three Generations” was inspired by his friend whose
mom came to live with his family because she had a mental breakdown. This is biographical context research.

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