mid-term Paper [due 3/09]

due Monday, March 9 at 11pm in OAKS
10% of course grade

Your goal in this 5-page paper is to provide a close reading of the emotional work done by 1 or 2 medieval texts studied in the first half of the semester, produced in conjunction with 2 or 3 secondary sources. These secondary sources may–but certainly don’t need to–be one or more that we read for class.

The medieval texts available for this paper assignment are:

Marie de France, Yonec
Middle English lyrics (one or more of them)
Chaucer, “Gentilesse”
Exeter Book Elegies (one or more of them)
Chaucer, Legend of Good Women (Dido)
Chaucer, Book of the Duchess
Sir Orfeo
Pearl
Dream of the Rood
Miracles of the Virgin (one or more of them)

The secondary texts we have read in class that are available for this assignment are:

Evans, “The Universal Language” and “Why Spock Could Never Have Evolved”
Gastle, “Historical Context for Middle English Literature”
Rosenwein, “Worrying About Emotions in History”
Plamper, “History and Emotions: An Introduction”

You need not use any of the above secondary texts in your paper, but if you find one or more of them helpful to you as you present your affect-oriented reading, then put them to work. Feel free to seek assistance from other sources (critical and otherwise) in constructing and presenting your reading. The MLA International Bibliography is a good place to begin. If you’re working on one of the Chaucer texts, you’ll find essays available in the back of our Norton Critical Edition, too.

A successful paper will demonstrate the following:

a thorough understanding of the literary text as a whole, as well as the specific sections you focus on in your analysis;

a thoughtful understanding of the secondary text, in terms of the issues we have addressed in class and those you choose to make particular use of in your interpretation; and

attention to the nuances of the language in the passage(s) you choose, explaining in some detail the reasons for your particular reading (that is, your close reading).

In addition, a successful paper will:

be structured according to a clearly-presented thesis, supporting that thesis with sufficient examples and in a logical fashion;

use MLA guidelines effectively; and

follow the standard rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

You may earn 3 extra points for the essay grade if you submit via OAKS a one-page proposal for your paper by 11pm on Thursday, Feb 19. I will promptly reply to these with questions and suggestions.

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