Works to choose from: Excerpt from Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Excerpt from Popul Vuh
Basics: Overall, the close reading paper should “[make] interpretative claims [which are] debatable and […] supported with evidence from the text” and “that together argue for a thesis about the text [and] explore the complexity of the text (Wolfe and Wilder 12).
• Format: MLA style both for documentation and design. See Purdue OWL’s page on MLA style here.
• Length: 500 to 750 words (2 to 3 pages) Word count does not include identifying header information or Works Cited entries.
• Font: Use an easy to read font, like Arial or Times New Roman, in 12-point.
• Sources: Each paper should focus on one or two works (poems, plays, short fiction, or essays) that we have read as part of class. NO outside sources should be used for the paper unless cleared with me first.
Approaches: Choose only ONE approach.
• Textual Analysis – This paper discusses one literary feature of a work such as character, setting, rhythm, rhyme, irony, or other feature discussed in class. The paper will then “examine in detail how that element contributes to the major themes or overall effect of the text” (Gocsik18). Textual analysis papers will need to (1) identify a clear theme or effect present in the work, (2) define the literary feature to be examined, (3) provide examples of the feature from the work, and (4) explain how those examples illustrate the theme or create the effect.
• Contextual Analysis – This paper examines “the relationship between a work and [one of] its contexts: the social norms and political environment of the culture in which it was written, the historical events before or during the author’s life, [or] the literary traditions and popular culture in the region at that time […] (19). The paper often responds to ONE of the following broad questions:
◦ How is this text a product of its historical or cultural context?
◦ How does the text reflect it cultural context?
◦ How did the text influence future historical events or inspire social change?
◦ How does the text comment upon recent history? To what purpose? (19-21)
• Comparison/Contrast: We will be looking at works all semester that will share features in common – for instance, they might belong to the same genre, use similar literary features, or share characters. This paper should focus on two works that may seem very similar and discuss how they are very different OR focus on two works that may seem very different and discuss how they are actually very similar. Remember that comparison/contrast papers do more than list similarities and differences; they also explain the value in noting them.
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