Comparison of themes
For your second term essay, you will be exploring one of the story types we have examined in class by finding examples of this story type from a range of media and analyzing the ways that these examples use that story type to communicate themes.
The analysis should be comparative and attentive to the ways that each example is both similar and different from the others.
Steps to completing the essay and requirements:
1. You will need to pick a story type from the following: exhibitions, journeys, redemption (and/or shame) narratives, mysteries, and fantasies.
2. You will need to find 3 examples of the story type.
a. Each example must come from a different medium.
b. Examples must fall within the following date ranges:
Other media—BEFORE 2010
c. No re-using examples from a previous 1780 essay
d. Media can include: film, television, literature, poetry, theater, music, digital games, dance, and graphic/comic works
e. All examples must be fictional
f. All examples must be aimed at an adult or general audience (no works aimed primarily at children)
If you are confused about these requirements, please ask your tutorial leader or course director for clarification.
3. You will need to do some research on the examples with which you will be working. This will involve looking at the ways that these examples have been written about by scholars: their production and reception, the way that critics have responded to them, the ways that they have been interpreted and analyzed by writers, and other, similar questions.
You will also need to do some research on the socio-cultural context in which they were produced to get a sense of the world in which the stories were initially told.
4. In your research, you will need to locate at least 3 secondary sources relevant to your examples (in addition to the examples themselves). These sources can include scholarly journal articles, books or book chapters on the topic, and other academic sources.
The purpose of these examples is to expose you to the larger context of the works you about which you are writing, expose you to various interpretations and criticisms of these works, and provide historical information about the stories, their creation, and the ways they were produced, disseminated, and received.
Capsule reviews, blog posts, daily newspaper and popular magazine articles will not count in the total of 3 sources. They may be used in addition to the 3 sources but be careful and only use reputable, edited material.
5. You will then write a research essay of 8-10 double-spaced pages (2500-3000) words that provides a comparative discussion of these examples and explains the ways that they reflect aspects of a given story type and how the producers (writers, directors, composers, etc.) of these works convey meaning through storytelling within a particular type.
Some tips for creating an excellent research paper:
1. Try to be as detailed and specific in your analysis of the stories. Use lots of examples and be sure to consider the stylistic choices made by the creators of these works: the language they use, metaphors, and other literary devices (literature); the visual and sound design, images, and editing (television/film); the lyrics, arrangement, and sound (musical work), the interactive features or ways that the user/audience is engaged (games and web-based work).
2. Remember that depth is usually preferable to breadth in analytic writing. In other words, avoid writing an essay that covers many aspects of the stories but never really provides detailed analysis and try to cover a limited set of themes/issues in greater depth.
3. Remember that the essay must be comparative and thus include the identification of similarities and differences between your examples.
4. Avoid extended plot summaries and long lists of characters, events, locations, and other features of the work. A short paragraph should be sufficient to provide a context for your examples and analysis.
5. Use brief quotations from secondary work judiciously to support your analysis or as the grounds for productive disagreements (remember, you do not have to agree with the critics and scholars with whom you are dealing), but avoid long quotations that could be summarized or compressed.
6. We are here to help you with research and writing and we want you to do well on the assignment. Obviously, you need to have reasonable expectations as to response time for questions if not asked in person.
1. Your essay should be at least 2500 words. Upper limits are more flexible but check with your tutorial leader if you are concerned you will be over 3000 words.
2. All citations (not just direct quotes) should be properly cited.
3. The essay should be double-spaced, with 12 point font and 1” margins.
4. The essay is due April 6 (electronic upload)
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