How Should Your Paper Begin Addressing its Best Readers?:  First Sentences from Three Articles’ Introductions

            All examples are follow their journal’s document formats, some of which are MLA and some of which are University of Chicago.  When you adapt a U. Chicago source to your own paper, convert it to MLA.


Roger, Patricia M.  “Taking a Perspective: Hawthorne’s Concept of Language and Nineteenth-Century Language Theory.”  Nineteenth-Century Literature.  51:4 (March 1997) 433-54.  Web.  JSTOR.  Available at:

“’Oh, was there not, from the first, more poison in thy nature than in mine?’ cries Beatrice at the end of ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter.’[1]  The poison in her nature is literal, and while the story indicates that her contact with Giovanni has transmitted this poison to him, her final words nevertheless suggest that Giovanni was poisoned by an even more deadly, figurative venom from the very start.  Throughout the story, as in his Notebooks and much of his fiction, Hawthorne explores the complex relations between literal and figurative meanings and shows the ways in which one’s perspective determines the interpretation of those relations.  The issue of whether and how language might correspond to physical and spiritual ‘facts’ was the object of much debate in the mid nineteenth century.  [ . . . ]” (433).


Herbert, Jr., T. Walter.  “Doing Cultural Work: ‘My Kinsman Major Molineux’ and the Construction of the Self-Made Man.”  Studies in the Novel.  (March 1, 1991) 20-27.  Web.  MLA Bibliography.

“Robin Molineux is transformed as he witnesses the pageant of his kinsman’s humiliation and plays a role in it; and the community likewise confirms an emerging collective identity in staging the ritual.[2]  Hawthorne’s tale thus concerns the psychosocial power of imaginative experiences; it is a work about doing cultural work.  I want to describe three ways in which fiction may be said to perform such work, in the course of explaining how “My Kinsman” takes part in the construction of self-made manhood” (20).


Cooper, Allene.  “The Discourse of Romance: Truth and Fantasy in Hawthorne’s Point of View.”  Studies in Short Fiction.  (September 1, 1991)  497-508.  Web.  MLA Bibliography.


“Studies have shown that Flaubert’s ‘impersonal narration’ (Jauss 27-28) and Henry James’s distancing narrators (McKay 10,37) mark an emerging form of the novel in the nineteenth century.  Examinations of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s use of point of view, however, have largely ignored his contribution to genre development.  Many of Hawthorne’s short works are told almost exclusively from the narrator’s viewpoint, the intrusive narrator constantly cuing readers that the work is fiction.  But like James and Flaubert, Hawthorne experimented with other narrative techniques.  Hawthorne, [sic] frequently creates an ambiguity essential to his definition of romance through discourse that could be read as either the voice of the narrator or the thoughts of a character.  Indeed, at times, voices merge until a passage may represent both sympathetic narrator and character at the same time” (497). 


[1]  “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” in Moses from an Old Manse, ed. William Charvat, Roy Harvey Pearce, and Claude M. Simpson, vol. 10 of The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1974).  p. 127

[2]   Bertram Wyatt-Brown discusses “My Kinsman” at length as an example of the role of public ritual in affirming communal identity in Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1982), pp. 4-14.  Wyatt-Brown stresses “the sovereignty of a primeval community in the distribution of honor,” rather than the issues of social transition discussed here.  I treat Hawthorne’s life and writing in relation to the early 19th-century transformation of family and gender in a book forthcoming at the University of California Press.


Works Cited (for Cooper, as printed!)


McKay, Janet Holmgren.  Narration and Discourse in American Realistic Fiction.  Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1982.