English literature is a history in itself. Its roots date back to hundreds of years. Chaucer is referred as the father of English literature. The best part about writing on English literature research paper, is that you have so many topics to choose from. The choice of topic will depend on your own reading. Make an informed decision, as the style and the format of the research paper will depend on the topic chosen.
Given below are certain factors that you can consider and topics that you can look to write on.
Literary Research Paper Topics
From Different Countries
You can choose to write about literature belonging to different countries, e.g American literature, African-American literature, Indian writings in English, etc. Literature is often a reflection of the society, so the literature of a particular country will be the reflection of its traditions, customs, views. For example, in American literature, you will find that most of the authors, do not follow the norms set by European authors. Their writings are fragmented in style and they reflect the modern modus vivendi.
From Different Ages
You can write about all the literature types of a particular age, say Elizabethan literature or Victorian literature. With such topics, it is advisable that you give the names of the most prominent authors and their literary works during those times. In Elizabethan literature, it will undoubtedly be Shakespeare. During the era of Queen Elizabeth, England was called the nest of hummingbirds, because the city was full of poets. You should also throw light on the most prominent forms, styles, and kinds of poetry that make up that era. There is always a common link between the writers of a particular age and you need to discuss this factor as well. In Victorian literature, most writers used a language that was quite ornamental and could only be understood by the upper sections of the society.
Of an Author
You can consider taking up a topic that highlights the works of one author. In this case, you need to take a biographical approach. This will require you to do a thorough research on the life of the author. The typical styles of the author, famous literary works produced by him/her, all his achievements, etc. need to be discussed in detail. Don't forget to highlight all the elements of his literature. Sometimes, the author's work is a reflection of his own life, e.g. D. H. Lawrence's novel 'Sons and Lovers' is inspired by his own life. The character 'Paul' is supposedly Lawrence himself.
You can research about the different characters or the way of characterization, in a particular novel. Characterization is the art of presenting the characters, whether the characters are realistic, symbolic, etc. For example, the character of Hamlet in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' can be analyzed to great detail. One good idea will be analyzing the same Hamlet, with a Freudian or psychological approach. You can even write your own interpretations.
Themes from the Novels
How about studying the different themes in a novel? Some novels have different sociological or political themes e.g George Orwell's 'Animal farm' is a political satire on the Russian revolution. You can even compare them with the contemporary society. 'Enemy of the People' by Henrik Ibsen is a satire on modern politics.
Different Literary Devices
You can choose to write about the different literary devices used in a work of literature. In case of poetry, you can discuss the different images, symbols, or the figures of speech used. The points, such as their importance and how they convey the message of the poet, should be discussed as well. You can even discuss the same literary term used differently in different novels. Say you are writing about humor and comedy, you can write about different types of humor like comic relief, farce, etc. and their usage in the different works of literature.
Whichever English literature research paper topics you choose to write on, you are bound to face some limitations. Like, if you are writing about Shakespeare, it is very difficult to find authentic information about him. Your own creativity and interpretation of the topic should be a vital part of your paper; it should definitely contain your own essence. As Aldous Huxley says "every man's memory is his private literature".