Coming Up With Fresh Research Paper Topic Ideas For An English Class


Research paper topics for English majors tend to lean on the dry side of the spectrum, especially if the literature assigned doesn’t connect with them. Often, your instructor will give you a set of essay topics to choose from, and an open option to choose your own topic. With all of the other books an English major juggles on any given semester, it’s no wonder you can’t think of an interesting idea for that paper coming up. Each specific prompt is more boring than the last.

Don’t worry; it is possible to overcome this and choose a topic that’s fresh to you. Here are a few ways to find better research paper ideas for English class:

How to Find Fresh English Research Paper Ideas

  1. Look at the Given Options Carefully Before Dismissing Them: While they may seem boring at first glance, you may be able to draw out a new prompt from them by reworking those questions. You could combine them, take the opposite of one, replace one character with another, and more with otherwise uninteresting ideas.
  2. Make a Quick Brainstorm List: about the specific novel or subject your class is studying, what are the first words that come to mind? Jot them down in a list.
  3. Google for A While: Take the most interesting terms or ideas you’ve listed and just run them through Google. Search for aspects of these ideas that interest you most. Try to look for what seems unconventional but is still relevant.
  4. Talk with Your Professor: After you’ve found some things to work with, run the potential prompts by your professor. At best they will give you the go ahead on one of your topics, at worst they will offer you a new one based on your list. Either way is a win-win.

If you are still stumped as to what your research paper should discuss, maybe these questions can aid you:

  • Is there a character in the novel or play you are currently covering that seems to irk you for some reason? How are they characterized? What do they do that irks you?
  • Is there an overarching or underlying theme that you find you don’t understand? Or even agree with?
  • Does the writing style in parts of the story—if not the whole story—bother you or intrigue you? Do you think you can discuss why at length?
  • Are you interested in the imagery of certain scenes, and what they may represent? Can you discuss these scenes at length?
  • Are you interested in the author’s personal life and its effect on the story?
  • What about the setting of the story interests you? What kind of purpose (or purposes) does it serve?

Sometimes writing a research paper for English topics can be a really aggravating process. Hopefully, by really engaging the open-ended topic option through heavy brainstorming and shameless inquisitiveness, the task won’t seem so impossible. You may even start to enjoy the writing process since you will have found a subject you care about.

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