FINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT
For this assignment you should write a 6-7 page paper in which you will develop a critical argument on a topic of your choice. You must meet with me or your TA before you write your paper to have the topic approved. This paper is due in hard copy at the beginning of your tutorial on the last day of class, Wednesday, March 30. If you are not able to attend class, or not able to print your paper, please email it to your TA before the start of class; you should both attach the paper and paste it into the body of the email (in case the attachment fails).
Your paper should consider two of the plays we have read together this semester, one belonging to one genre and one belonging to another. A list of the plays we have read for the course and their genres is included on the back of this assignment sheet; I encourage you think outside the pairings I put together for the lectures, so that you won’t fall into merely regurgitating lecture arguments. Your paper will choose a particularly rich and interesting passage (or scene) from one play, and then use your analysis of that scene as a frame for your reading of the second play. The premise of the assignment is that your argument about one play will help to unlock a new or more complex argument about the other. You should begin by developing a strong close reading of one text, and then brainstorm on what that close reading might help you say about another text. The assignment works on the assumption that making arguments about both texts helps you develop new claims about each.
Please keep in mind the following as you write:
- Your paper should be structured into an argument, and should have a strong and debatable thesis up front. Remember that a strong thesis is a substantial, complex debatable claim about the text(s) in question. A debatable thesis must be something that readers could reasonably have differing opinions on. In this case, your thesis will encompass two smaller arguments: your argument about the smaller selection, and how your reading of the selection serves to reframe your reading of the second play.
- This paper is inviting you to make complex, complicated arguments, so you will need to think about what kind of frame will your smaller passage will be. Will it influence a new reading of another play, or bring something to light not previously obvious in the longer play? Does the frame itself take on new meaning or absorb meaning from the longer play? What does it mean for a passage from one play to frame another? The point is to move beyond a compare-contrast paper, so you should begin not by thinking of two plays with similarities, but by finding an especially exciting passage to close-read and analyze.
- You should support your points by focusing on the close textual details of the passage. Look over the Premsho handout again as you consider how to provide support for your claims. Remember that the basic unit of any paper is a quotation plus analysis of that quotation. Quote the text as much as possible, and analyze and interpret your quotations, rather than simply paraphrasing them.
- Devote at least half the essay to your analysis of the longer work.
- Please use 12-point, Times New Roman font, and double-space your pages. Margins should be one inch. Please staple multiple pages together. You should include full citations of both your play and every reference you use (including the Oxford English Dictionary and any websites you use, even if you only paraphrase ideas from them).
- Proofread your essay thoroughly before turning it in.
GENRES OF PLAYS WE HAVE READ SO FAR IN THE COURSE
Note that if a play has two genres (e.g., Titus Andronicus, both revenge tragedy and tragedy; Richard III, both history play and tragedy) you are allowed to combine it with a play that shares one of its genres. So, you would write a play about both Richard III and 2 Henry VI, even though both are at least partly history plays; you could also combine Richard III with Anthony and Cleopatra, even though both are at least partly tragedies.