The Big Bang Theory – “The Friendship Algorithm”, “Cathedral” (1984) by Raymond Carver

Order Details;

ENGL 1033

Spring 2015


Research Essay


Please write a 5-6 page research paper (at least 5 full pages!), formatted as per the guidelines in the syllabus (MLA), on TWO of the primary sources listed below.

  1. Modern Family – “Pilot”
  2. “Reunion” (1962) by John Cheever
  3. The Big Bang Theory – “The Friendship Algorithm”
  4. “Cathedral” (1984) by Raymond Carver
  5. Choose your own story/poem/play/essay from Exploring Literature (must receive permission to write on the primary source of choice.


Ideally, the research essay should incorporate writing that you have already done. What you should do for this paper is choose one of the sources you have already written about (either Modern Family or “Reunion” from the first unit, or The Big Bang Theory or “Cathedral” from the second unit) and write a research/comparison paper by including new writing and research from the source that you did NOT choose.

So, if you wrote about Modern Family for your first paper, and you want to continue with that, you would go back and start writing about “Reunion” for your final paper, and vice versa.

Same with The Big Bang Theory and “Cathedral.”

The idea is that you write a new paper that compares the two primary sources from either unit one or unit two, looking specifically at all of the themes we’ve already discussed in class, but using this opportunity to write a paper that compares and researches the differences or similarities between televised narratives and literary narratives. How do the TV show and short story express similar themes? What are the techniques used? Despite reaching different audiences, do they deliver the same or different messages?


Incorporate 3 secondary academic/scholarly sources into your writing. This means that in addition to the primary source, I expect you to have 3 additional sources used in the paper and listed on your Works Cited page. Books from the library are acceptable. Essays or articles from online databases such as JSTOR or Academic Search Premier/Complete are also acceptable, though they must be peer reviewed.

Here are some themes to help you get started:

  1. Family
  2. Friendship
  3. Overcoming Difference
  4. Television Narrative
  5. Literary Narrative

Here’s What Your Essay Should Do

  1. Incorporate Research – this means citing that research correctly both in-text and in your Works Cited. It also means that you must find secondary arguments that support the position you are taking in your paper.
  2. Present a strong thesis statement/research question. Another way to think of the thesis statement is as a research question. If you approach your text with a question in mind, such as “How does the author’s life and historical context help me understand the themes of this story?” then it can often be easier to come up with a thesis.
  3. Develop a critical approach. This means that your argument, through using outside research for support, must be unique in some way. Remember that you are not parroting the arguments of the secondary sources that you find; rather, you are using them to support your own argument.
  4. Properly use all MLA formatting requirements
  5. Maintain an appropriate tone (academic).


This Essay is due in Three Stages:

  1. The Research Outline – due 3/11
  2. Mandatory Conferences – 3/30 – 4/3
  3. Final Version – due 4/6






Research Question


  1. I am writing about X.
  2. Because I want to know Y.
  3. In order to help the reader understand Z.

I am writing about The Big Bang Theory and Cathedral.


Making friends

Standards of Friendship

Maintaining friendships

Social Interactions

I am writing about The Big Bang Theory and Cathedral because I want to know how friendship is portrayed in both the show and the story.


Big Bang Theory – friendship and social interaction

Ethics and Values

Why friendship is positive between Sheldon and his current friends.

Cathedral – Social interactions (Robert comes to visit)

Process of social interaction becoming friendship. How is this process working in Cathedral as compared to Big Bang Theory?


Overcoming Fear – Sheldon’s fear of heights; Cathedral: Narrator closes his eyes to draw a cathedral, keeps them closed. This is a positive aspect of friendship.

Step 3: In order to help the reader understand how social interaction can be a process that leads to friendship through mutual understanding and respect.

Actual Thesis Statement/Research Question: Although The Big Bang Theory and Cathedral are different mediums, they portray friendship in similar ways by examining the process of social interaction, and how that interaction is either positive or negative, depending on mutual respect and understanding.


Research Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Full Intro
  3. Thesis Statement
  4. Primary Sources
  5. 1-2 sentences about your overall argument (general)
  • Comparing themes (narrative style, family, friends)
  1. Example Body Paragraph
  2. Present an Idea (Topic Sentence) – TV show
  3. Narrative Style – mockumentary
  4. Illustrate the Narrative Style
  5. Explain – tie back into thesis statement
  6. Example Body Paragraph
  7. Topic Sentence
  8. Narrative Style – POV 1st person, frame narrative
  9. Illustrate
  10. Explain – tie back to thesis statement
  11. Example Body Paragraph
  12. Topic Sentence
  13. Compare Two Primary Sources
  14. Illustrate with examples from both sources
  15. Explain why it all matters
  16. Example Body Paragraph
  17. Topic Sentence – Primary Source and Secondary Source
  18. Illustrate from Primary Source
  19. Explain
  20. Transition into Secondary Source
  21. Illustrate
  22. Explain
  23. Example Body Paragraph
  24. Topic Sentence – two secondary sources
  25. Illustrate – paraphrasing, quoting, etc.
  26. Explain – why are these secondary sources important for you argument?
  27. Example Body Paragraph
  28. Topic Sentence – secondary source
  29. Illustrate – quote, paraphrase, etc.
  30. Explain
  31. Conclusion
  32. DON’T – repeat your argument word for word
  33. DON’T – introduce a new idea/topic
  34. DO – bring the essay full circle (back to the thesis statement)
  35. DO – tie everything together

Works Cited Page