Term Paper: a staged assignment

Length: 12-15 pages

The idea is to work through an essay in two separate stages, in order to pay focused attention to each of the different processes involved.

1. Starting up: thesis statement and bibliography

Deadline: Feb. 15, 2007
Weight: 5/25%

First, each student must choose an initial direction, and then do some research to see what, if anything, exists on the chosen topic. This process may involve one or more changes in direction, until you find a subject area that can support an interesting question or set of questions.

Thesis: This stage is the most crucial to the whole project, so spend a lot of time and thought in, first, choosing a topic that interests you; second, formulating a question or problem which arises from that general topic; and finally, articulating your answer to that question or problem in the form of a thesis. See “Formulating Questions,” “Developing a Thesis,” and “Essay Checklist.”

The thesis will be evaluated on:

  1. whether or not it makes a clear and compelling argument; and
  2. whether or not the scope of the argument seems appropriate for a 13-15 page senior undergraduate paper (vs. a 2 page paper, or a book).

Bibliography: A list of resources, the titles of which suggest they may be pertinent to the thesis. Students are not expected to have read these texts yet, nor are they obligated to use them in the final paper if they turn out to be inappropriate. In fact, none of them may be used—though there should be at least six print-based sources in the final essay—and they do not even have to be in the UNB library system (they do, however, need to be in some library system). The purpose it to ensure students can a) find likely references, and b) make educated assumptions about their suitability from the title, author, location, etc.

Each list should include:

  1. at least three single-author books or edited collections;
  2. at least three articles from academic journals;
  3. at least three other non-electronic items (books, articles, videos, reviews, etc.);
  4. at least three electronic resources (be careful here; examine the sources closely; are they credible?)

Bibliographies will be evaluated on:

  1. suitability of the choices to the thesis; and
  2. use of proper MLA format.

2. Final drafts

Deadline: March 29, 2007
Weight: 20/25%

Since the first stages are already done, the drafting should be surprisingly straightforward. Students may find, however, that they want to revise the thesis and/or outline as they go; that is to be expected.

Drafts will be evaluated, in decreasing order of importance, on whether:

  1. the thesis is obvious from beginning, and is the focus throughout;
  2. the main idea(s) are presented clearly, in logical and effective order;
  3. the examples from the chosen text(s) are appropriate;
  4. sources are used appropriately (to complement, rather than overwhelm; to back up arguments rather than make them; proper creditation);
  5. grammar, spelling, and proof-reading are up to standard; and
  6. the paper adheres to MLA format.

Some possible topics:

These suggestions are very general. They need to be applied to one or more playwrights and/or plays, and further refined. For example, a paper is not “about” forced marriage, but rather, it argues that “in Writer X’s play ‘Tis Pity She’s a Floozy freely-chosen marriage is characterized, through the positive example of Delphinia and Robusto, as the pinnacle of human happiness.” ). You are encouraged to range through the anthology (or further) and find a play that we haven’t read in class. All papers must engage with the plays in some way on the levels of language, style, and performance.

  1. the social role of the theatre: normative? subversive?
  2. compare a play to its antecedent(s) (e.g. Dryden’s All for Love and Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra. Oroonko is not eligible for this question.)
  3. issues relating specifically to women playwrights, and/or actresses
  4. representations of race and/or slavery
  5. stagecraft
  6. marriage and/or familial and/or gender relations
  7. treatment of authority (literary and stylistic authority; cultural authority; moral authority; religious authority, etc.)
  8. a close reading of two plays on similar themes and/or by the same playwright
  9. theatrical culture
  10. Explore a play from one of the other sub-genres represented in the anthology
  11. something else
Published on January 14, 2007 at 12:52 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Is there a required number of outside sources (other than the play itself) that must be used, or is that up to us?

  2. No, no specific number of sources.


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