This is to be a short, analytical paper, of about four pages, double-spaced. You should write an efficient condensation of your ideas. It should be written in the spirit of a detective investigation:
First stage: To do the analysis
1. Pick a recurring word (a color, an object, an adverb, etc.).
2. Trace its occurrences in the text and record them, noting the context of each appearance of your chosen motif and briefly highlighting the features associated with the motif. Look at the sentence the motif occurs in: what is the motif connected to within it? Give page references for each.
3. Interpret your findings. Looking at several instances
of the motif, what points of contact do you find among them?
Unpack fully the key instances of the motif to find the commonality among them and check your ideas against your understanding of the text. How does the motif add to your reading of the work?
Second stage: To report your findings
1. Introduction: in one or two sentences, state the motif and summarize its meaning(s)
2. Body of the text: grouping the occurrences of the motif by the meanings you have discovered, show how the motif takes on particular meaning, hitherto hidden, in each context.
3. Conclusion: Discuss how the unpacking of the motif adds new significance to the text as a whole.
The paper should be a kind of lab report, in which the tabulation of the motif constitutes the data. What kinds of conclusions is it legitimate to draw? How close can you get to the author's position (rather than the characters')?
Whenever you cite text, interpret the cited passage and state what you think it demonstrates for your purposes. It will not be self-evident.
Discuss your paper during office hours (or make an appointment).
Come with a topic as developed as possible, so that we may best help you.
Format of papers
1. Place page numbers for citations in parentheses in the body of your paper. Footnotes are unnecessary.
2. American style punctuation falls INSIDE quotation marks,
except for : and ;
"To be, or not to be," said Ham.
3. Page numbers follow the citation and precede the punctuation:
"To be or not to be" (23).
4. Use the present tense to recount events within a literary
"Hamlet stabs Polonius in the arras."
5. Avoid using passive constructions.
(NOT "Polonius is stabbed in the arras.")
6. Omit generalizations you have not built up to in your
"In Russia they...."
7. Omit overgeneral introductory paragraphs. Start by
stating the purpose of your paper.
How to do Peer Reviews
The first rule is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You are reading the paper in order to help your classmate write a better paper (and in the process learning to become a better paper writer), so be humble and generous (not witty and condescending, the bane of academe). But do not hesitate to be rigorous.
You have a fresh eye and can see the logical development of the paper. Where does the paper take unclear logical leaps? Where is it hard to understand? Where does it fail to interpret its evidence? Is the relevance of the evidence unclear?
Your fresh eye will also detect typographical errors, mistakes in spelling and punctuation, which undermine the effect of a carefully thought-out argument.
The hardest part involves how the paper interprets the work under discussion. You may disagree with it, but what you should judge is whether a coherent argument is made for the position. If not, how is it not coherent? Can your differing interpretation help you to improve your classmate's argument? What material was omitted that is relevant to the argument? How can the paper be improved?
Make your short comments in clear handwriting in the marginsand
write your overall qualitative evaluation at the end, printing your name.
The marked up paper is to be handed in with the final version by its author.
The relationship between the first and second versions of the paper will
be a factor in our evaluation of both author and commentator.
Use the same general guidelines as for the motif paper (condensation, lab report approach, citation, punctuation).
1. Basis for your claim
Establish the points of contact between the main text and the text it refers to (its subtext), i.e. what makes you suspect the presence of the subtext? (the machine's name is Ophelia so you look at Hamlet for points of contact).
If one character is paired with a subtext's character, what might it imply for other characters? (If the hero is indecisive like Hamlet, then who is Claudius? Gertrude? etc.)
Are there shared motifs between the two works? Shared subtexts?
To get at the later author's point of view toward the earlier work, first interpret the material of the subtext point by point. Then weigh that analysis against how that material is used by the later author. What has s/he changed, either by context or detail? What are trhe implications of the changes, when taken together? (What does Onegin tell us about Fyodor, or Chernyshevsky about literary aesthetics?) Ask as many questions of the material as you can. If you see several possible answers, develop them all. Are they contradictory? Complementary? Is there material within the texts that can test your interpretation? Have fun.
Avoid "fancy" forms of simple words, e.g.why say "utilize" if it simply means "use"?
Note the correct use of the verbs to lie (intransitive: the book lies/is lying, was lying on the table) and to lay (transitive: I lay/laid the book on the table).
Use "like" only as a preposition (e.g. write like me), not as a subordinate conjunction (write as I do). "me" is the direct object of the preposition; "as" introduces a clause with a verb in it.
"Disinterested" is not "uninterested."
I infer, you imply.
Root out cliches mercilessly.