You'll be raising a question or proposing a theory about literature during the American Renaissance. To do this, use library resources to explore the conversations around the authors, works, and themes you are most interested in. You'll be using these sources to create an annotated bibliography and to develop your original ideas in writing. From the syllabus:
The paper should deal with at least one author/text that the class has read during the semester, and should develop an original argument that demonstrates some aspect of the author’s intentions or relationship to a larger historical or literary movement relevant during the American Renaissance. . . You will be expected to put your own ideas in conversation with those of your 5 scholarly sources, showing how your own argument/reading of the text(s) in question deepens or complicates the existing scholarly research on your topic.
As you see what other literary scholars have written, put yourself in conversation with them. What do they have to say? Do you agree? Where do you diverge? What new ideas do you have to offer? How do your new ideas fit into and extend what literary scholars have already said?
As you take a look to see what literary scholars have said about and writer and a topic, think about these questions:
Look for criticism that is relevant and appears to be of high quality. You may have to skim a lot of works of criticism before you decide which works you think should be part of your conversation.