Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Paper 1

Length: 4-5 pages
Due: February 26 (any time before midnight)

How to Submit: Send your paper to me as an email attachment. My address is The paper should be in Word format (.doc or .docx). The title of the document should be your last name ("Johnson.doc"). The subject line of the email should be the assignment title ("Paper 1").

Returning assignments: I will return your papers to you by email. The grade and my comments will be inserted using Word's "Comment" feature, so you'll need to open the attached paper as a Word doc to see it. (There's always an option to open an email attachment as a webpage rather than downloading it--that won't work.) 

Requirements: This is a very simply, focused, and short paper assignment, but it has to be done well. Write an essay that responds to one of the three questions below. The essay should focus exclusively on the play itself. You don't need to incorporate any historical or cultural context, nor are you required to engage with any secondary sources. For a successful paper, three things are important:
  • You need a specific argument articulated clearly in the first paragraph. 
  • The body of the essay should be devoted to "proving" that your argument is correct. You do this by providing evidence from the play itself. The body of the essay, that is, should feature quotations from the play that support your central claim. These quotations should be engaged with and discussed. Show me what they mean and how they serve your argument.
  • The writing must be formal, clear, and free from careless mistakes and errors of grammar and spelling. 


(1) Does A Midsummer Night's Dream ultimately reinforce the institution of marriage or question it? (No matter which side you come down on, be sure to make a specific argument about why that is so and how it is effected. i.e. Your thesis statement shouldn't be simply, "A Midsummer Night's Dream questions the institution of marriage." Go further. Give me a couple more sentences that give details and make a more specific claim.)

(2) What kind of thematic or conceptual importance does performance have in either A Midsummer Night's Dream or Richard II?

(3) How does the deposition scene in Richard II affect the audience's appraisal of Richard, of Bollingbrook, and of the larger political dispute they are wrapped up in?

Good luck! Have fun with it!