ASSIGNMENT: You will write an essay with a clearly focused thesis (NOT a plot summary) of 5-7 pages (not including the Works Cited page) in response to one of the topics listed below. You may not write about a text you have written about at length in another class. Please see the Course Schedule for the paper due date (which is later in the semester).
NOTE: You will submit your paper via the “Research Paper” icon in Course Material. Double click the icon, and you will see where to attach and submit your paper. Once you have successfully submitted your paper, a green exclamation mark will appear in the “Research Paper” column in the Grade Center. This will confirm that you did indeed submit your paper. If this does not appear in the Grade Center, your paper has not been submitted, and late penalties will apply (10 points a day).
Although you will consult secondary works, your essay must reflect your own ability to analyze literature; that is, it must be more than a patchwork of outside opinions. Your paper should provide insights of your own and not simply repeat class lectures or discussions.
Obviously, matters of organization, English usage, a strong, narrowed, and focused thesis, and other characteristics of the essay will be considered as well. For more details, click here to see the English Department’s grading rubric (this rubric is also at the front of your handbook). The DBU Writer’s Resource Handbook will be an essential resource assisting you in all aspects of the writing process.
ROUGH DRAFTS: I am willing to respond to a draft of your paper (without assigning a grade). However, if you wish for me to respond to a draft, I must receive it no later than a week before the final draft due date. This will allow me adequate time to comment on your paper and allow you time to revise your paper according to my suggestions. If you are concerned about your writing ability, or feel a bit intimidated about writing a research paper in general, I strongly recommend that you treat this rough draft due date as your official due date.
CHOOSE FROM THE FOLLOWING RESEARCH TOPICS: Some of these topics focus in particular on texts that we have read; some will require you to delve into texts that go beyond our reading assignments. Whichever topic you choose, make sure to establish a thesis in which you assert the overall argument that you will make in your essay.
1. Cities have important functions in the heroic works of the ancient world. Choose two cities from the following list: Uruk (Gilgamesh), Troy (Iliad) and/or Corinth (Medea). After selecting two cities, consider what characteristics these cities share. Then consider how the attitudes toward city life expressed in these texts differ.
2. Hospitality is one of the chief virtues of ancient and heroic cultures. Compare the nature and extent of the hospitality displayed in two of the following texts: Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid.
3. Aristotle said that the man who is incapable of working in common, or who in his self-sufficiency has no need of others, is no part of the community, like a beast or a god. Compare the figure of Achilles with either Odysseus or Gilgamesh in light of this statement. What does this comparison reveal about the meaning of a hero’s relationship to his community?
4. Compare the relationship of Odysseus and Athena with that of Job and God. What meaning or ideas does this comparison suggest about the religious attitudes of the Hebrews and Greeks? (Pay particular attention to the long interview between Odysseus and Athena in Odyssey XIII. Insofar as possible, use the selection from Job in our anthology.)
5. Look closely at Augustine’s tribute to his mother, Monica. What virtues does he particularly commend in her? Compare her virtues, her view of marriage, and her ideas about a woman’s responsibilities to her husband with those of Rebekah in Genesis or Penelope in The Odyssey. Would you want to see Monica’s conduct of family life emulated by women today? (Insofar as possible, use Genesis 25 and 27 as included in our anthology.)
6. Compare Augustine’s and Dante’s spiritual journeys. Explore the pilgrims’ processes of learning, their “guides,” and the methods of teaching/learning they encounter.
ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF THE PAPER:
1. A useful introductory paragraph that includes
1. Full name(s) of author(s) and work(s), correctly spelled;
2. A thesis statement that specifically addresses the topic;
2. Serviceable body paragraphs that include specific, inclusive topic sentences.
3. Sufficient specific development in the body of your paper: you should include at least six significant quotes from your primary source(s) in your paper. Do not, however, quote lengthy passages to simply take up space.
4. Sufficient critical support: significant use of at least three acceptable secondary sources.
5. Sufficient original commentary to tie the support from the primary and secondary sources to the particular thesis point being developed and to the overall central idea. You should provide original commentary for each quote you incorporate.
6. An effective concluding paragraph that restates (not repeats) the central idea. (The central idea has been developed in the paper, so this restatement should be similarly developed.)
7. A creative title that is specifically informative about the content of the paper.
RESEARCH REQUIREMENTS: The essay will require some secondary research. The body of the paper must reflect three scholarly sources in addition to your primary source(s) (that is, the literary text(s) you are writing about). You will use research to help support your point, to show that you are aware that others disagree with your position, to provide helpful background information, or to help expand your understanding of your topic. Again, a critical research paper is primarily your textual-supported argument; it is not a review of what the critics have said.
SCHOLARLY SOURCES: Students often ask how they can be sure that the sources they are using are scholarly sources. This is an excellent question. Remember, strong secondary sources are scholarly pieces regarding the literature or topic you are investigating (which is your primary source). Strong secondary sources are written by scholars and/or experts in the subject you are investigating. The DBU Writer’s Resource Handbook is a wonderful resource on this topic. Chapter 5 is an overview on research techniques in general; pages 227-234 specifically focuses on evaluating the reliability of internet sources.
Beware of the following:
1. No “.com” websites are acceptable. This includes, of course, Wikipedia, SparkNotes, Cliffnotes, or any other study guide.
2. Encyclopedias and dictionaries (including online versions), while helpful as you begin research, do not constitute scholarly sources.
3. Be aware that translations or versions of a primary source do not constitute secondary sources. For instance, obtaining a translation of The Odyssey does not constitute a secondary source. This translation is simply another version of a primary source.
4. The Bible is not a secondary source. It is a primary source.
5. Also, avoid sources that simply summarize the plot. Remember that I am your audience, and therefore, you should not include plot summary in your essay.
FORMATTING/DOCUMENTATION: All documentation must conform to MLA guidelines for both the Works Cited page and parenthetical citation of page/line numbers. For a complete review of MLA guidelines, it is vitally important that you consult our handbook. Chapter 6 is entirely devoted to MLA Documentation Style, and a plastic insert in the handbook provides you with a wonderful resource as well. This insert features a sample “first page of paper” and “Works Cited” page. The first page of your paper and the Works Cited pages should look exactly like these samples. (These samples also appear on page 313 a
nd 322 of the handbook).
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