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398 Renaissance Tragedy Long Paper

Page history last edited by Eric Leonidas 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Your long paper is due in several steps:

  • Wed 11/6, Long Paper Topic
  • Wed, 11/18 Annotated bibliography
  • Wed 11/20, Long Paper "Prospectus"
  • Wed, 12/11, Long Paper Due



Annotated Bibliography:


The annotated bibliography should include at least 5 entries. The sources themselves should either be book-length works, chapters, or essays in published collections or journals.  You may not use internet sources unless they are reprints of conventionally published works (as in the Academic Search Premiere, Project Muse, or JSTOR databases) or peer-reviewed online journals (such as Early Modern Literary Studies).  At least two of your sources need to be from the 1990s or later (you can use articles I handed out in your paper, but not in this annotated bibliography).  At least 3 should directly involve your play (so not all of them need to).  At least one source should elaborate your theoretical concept (you may use CTT or sources I distributed).


Please bear in mind our 3 important areas to include:

  • Overview of Argument
  • Critical Tradition (What critical conversation about the play is the author entering? Alternately, does she or he announce a theoretical perspective? Is the author using the play to address some larger literary, historical, or cultural point?)
  • Evidence (What in the play is looked at? What other cultural or historical evidence is used?)


I expect you’ll use these sources as you consider your topic, so ultimately one or two of them might not be directly connected to what you come up with in the end (and so these might not be in your final paper).  The key areas of an annotation are 1) some sense of what the writer is looking at, especially if a critical or other problem is being addressed, and 2) an over view of the argument (and I should see words such as "argues," "claims," "contends," "demonstrates," etc.).  Here’s an example of an entry:


Blissett, William. "This Wide Gap of Time: The Winter's Tale." English Literary Renaissance 1 (1971): 52-70.


Explores [a good word to describe "topic"] the mirror-like symmetry of the play's halves, which meet at the devouring bear and consuming tempest.  After this turn, Blisset argues [self explanatory], a movement of emptying becomes one of fullness, and the motif of a troubled heart changes to images of health and love.  Above all, agitation and sin are smoothed and redeemed by grace.  Blisset thus rejects a critical tradition [again, self-explanatory] that sees the the play as anti-religious, substituting plotting and other forms of artifice for divine redemption.  Blisset also compares [a good word to describe "method"] Shakespeare's use of important symbols and figures to earlier instances in the plays in order to illustrate the sophistication and maturity of this late drama.


The Prospectus


On Mon, November 20, you’ll bring in two copies of a 3-5 pp. “prospectus” version of your paper.  The prospectus should include an opening paragraph—edited and revised after your receive your initial "claim" back from me.  After your thesis paragraph will come the following:


  • Some kind of outline.  Some people work in I and II’s, A’s and B’s, 1.s and 2.s, etc.  Not me.  I like to describe sections:  “In this section I’ll show etc., etc., with paragraphs on topic, topic, and topic.”  I don’t care how you do it, but you do have to show some kind of principle of organization.  Be as elaborate and detailed as you can.  Include secondary criticism (just by critic's name and page number) where possible.
  • A “paradigmatic” reading.  Here you should spend a few paragraphs closely reading a passage from the play you're writing on.  I’d like this to be your most critical reading from your whole paper, the moment that’s really going to persuade your reader of your point.  I imagine this falling around the midway point of your outline (it’s hard to say exactly, but it shouldn’t come first—there should be some preliminary explanation, cultural or theoretical, to prepare for your point; nor should it come last, your reader likely having become overly skeptical by then).  You should be able to point to your “outline” and say, “This is where my reading will be.”  The reading should be close, pulling out words and phrases from the quoted passage and discussing these in as much detail as you can muster.  Use the OED, call images and other formal elements by their technical names (per ENG 298).  Really flex those critical muscles. (Yes, it's easy to imagine having 2 or even 3 deeply "central" readings; for instance, in a problem/solution format.  But even there, I would go with the "solution" reading.  And of course you can always include more than one reading in your prospectus!)
  • An elaboration of one theoretical concept.  Here you should give at least one substantial paragraph explaining a term or concept, with citation of source (whether from CTT or another source you've found), plus any contextualization within the larger theory that is necessary (for instance, if you invoke “difference” you’re going to need to say something about signs and signifiers too).  Next, either in the same or a separate paragraph, explain in detail how this concept or term will help you argue something about your Shakespearean romance .  Here again you need evidence, this time quoted language from the play.


Please note that in the “prospectus” your outline should follow your thesis; the other two parts (paradigmatic reading and theory concept) should appear in the order they do in your outline.


In class, you will read and comment on another student’s work, and he or she will do the same for yours.




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