Step-By-Step Development of a Research Paper
"Langston Hughes and the Invention of the Blues Poem"

Step 1: Choose a Topic

As he began research for his paper, Luke's first task was to choose a topic. The assignment from his teacher read as follows:

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural flowering of black literature, visual arts, and performing arts centered in New York City's Harlem neighborhood during the period roughly 1920–1935. Choose an African American writer, painter, musician, or sculptor from this period. In a research paper (7 to 10 pages, plus a Works Cited list), demonstrate this figure's originality by discussing his or her contributions to American culture.

Luke had read several of Langston Hughes's poems and liked them. He also enjoyed jazz, which he knew had become especially popular during the Harlem Renaissance. He therefore considered the following topics:
  1. Music as inspiration in Langston Hughes's poetry
  2. The sound effects of rhythms and words in Langston Hughes's poetry
  3. Langston Hughes and the invention of the blues poem

The first two topics, he decided, were too broad. However, the third one seemed promising. He reworded his limited topic as a research question: How did Langston Hughes come to invent the blues poem?

Now Luke would have to see if he could locate enough source material to write a research paper on this topic.