Washington State University
On the due date noted, you will be pleased and alleviated to turn in the most significant single piece of work you will have produced for the semester in this class, something that ought to have a respectable afterlife -- at least as a potential portfolio paper, but possibly as the central document of your own particular expertise in Medieval and Early Modern English literature, or the kernel of a larger future masterpiece. And here's outrageous fortune: you have several options for meeting the objectives which can both appeal to your own individual talents and still allow you to package brilliant textual analysis in impressive and professional ways. Eventually you're going to die; aim for step one of immortality here. These are your options.
1) THE PAPER: an eight-page manuscript.
This assignment asks you either A) again to identify one significant facet you perceive in one particular work we have read after the first assignment and to explore its implications, or B) to identify a literary influence or connection you detect from one of our works to another (such as something in Chaucer influencing Twelfth Night), or C) to construct a well-crafted argument for ascribing an anonymous Renaissance poem to the Earl of Oxford (or to accomplish some other Oxfordian breakthrough).
The project will be minimally a total of eight pages, double-spaced, using MLA-style format. This document will consist of at least six pages of your own interpretive analysis, followed by at least two pages of annotated bibliography consisting of more than two entries, each one summarizing a different academic journal article.
You are required again to research and include secondary sources, more than two this time, but original insight and analysis should still dominate the entire discussion. Your final revised document must be a minimum of eight full, typed, double-spaced pages containing an intriguing (not underlined) title, an original unified thesis, vigorous analytical work, no extra spacing between paragraphs, all in a clean, effective, illuminating, properly documented presentation (correctly punctuated in-text parenthetical citations of author and page, and a correctly formatted MLA-style works list with the annotations).
For further instruction regarding documentation, refer to my web page or ask me ahead of time. Proofread well so that minor surface matters do not distract readers from your ideas. The grade for any manuscript containing a renegade, variant, or insane documentation system will strike you as intensely disappointing.
2) OTHER MEDIA: yet uncharacteristically valuable.
You may work alone or in a small group creating a useful resource for current and future students of Medieval and Early Modern English literature. Realize that this is a scholarly project, not an advertisement or fan page, and it should have some valuable purpose. Pick an appropriately manageable scope for the project and the people involved in the collaboration, and include all the key ingredients that you would provide for a paper: research, analysis, commentary, and whatever else would make this creation impressive and useful. And then package this in ways appropriate for the medium (perhaps research gets registered in an annotated works list that may include hyperlinks, for example) and for an audience consisting of future students of this class. Do not just create a recycling dumpsite, that is, don't replicate what's already available. Instead, be sure to offer the one thing most lacking on the web and in the media: critical analysis -- not a full paper's worth, since that just invites plagiarism, but some sophisticated components of commentary. And don't assume if you build it they will come; setting up a blog on Wyatt and Surrey is not likely to result in a WSU server jam.
Sophisticated research must take place and be clearly, logically, and professionally incorporated into the project. As with option #1 above, you need to find several scholarly journal articles and not just rely solipsistically on other media resources.
Turn in to me a print-out of the textual portions of the project, along with the URL (in which case it must be a page or site actually posted on the web) or the PowerPoint file, or the film cannister, or whatever. No need for expensive color copies or even images, since I will be looking at the actual media item, but I need to be marking up details on a hardcopy of the textual portion.
If you choose this project because it seems easy and you think you can submit any old crap with a jpg of Sir Walter Raleigh on the main page or first slide (he was such a stupid get), you are doomed and will fail most miserably. If you take up this challenge heroically and meaningfully, it will show and ring-giving will be generous.
3) A BRILLIANT UNANTICIPATED ALTERNATIVE: you tell me.
I welcome other kinds of projects that demonstrate the same objectives that the paper does: ability to carry out sophisticated research, to discover an original purpose and focus, to write with clarity and influence your audience's perspective. You may find a way to construct a bibliographical, filmic, pedagogical, or popular culture related project appropriate to Early Modern literary studies which will inspire enthusiasm and break new ground impressively. You are encouraged to work on a collaborative endeavor with a colleague or two. There are many possibilities. Think about it. But no cheesy junior-high garbage like mobiles and board games.
For your perusal, especially if you need to attune your ear to academic discourse, sample projects, both medieval and renaissance, good to excellent, are available on the web site, as are instructions and examples for the required MLA-style documentation.
Other writing recommendations about various issues can be found also, including my snotty comments regarding rancid phrases and my ranting about turning in the project, carefully crafted from twenty years full of unpleasant experiences.
However, I am glad to provide advice and help at any stage, from pre-writing and researching to the drafting, of this project. Ultimately, though, it must be completed and turned in when due; the compressed schedule of late semester does not allow for screwing around and lame excuses.