Term Paper and Proposal/Abstract assignments

For the term essay, you are required to write a well-written essay about some aspect of the Canterbury Tales, focussing on one or more of the readings for our course. The essay should be between eight (full) and twelve pages in length (using double space lineation, a twelve-point Roman font, and one-inch margins). Essays that are shorter than eight full pages will be returned unread. Essays that are longer than fifteen pages may be returned unread. The essay must include a list of works cited. Please do not submit the essay in a binder or folder. I am not fond of title pages.

Your focus should be on one or more of the prologues (including the General Prologue) and/or tales that we are reading for our course. You may choose to look at one prologue, one tale, one prologue and tale set, or a number of different prologues and tales. Your analysis could trace a theme or some other issue across many of the prologues and tales.

Your essay should have a "research" component. That is, your essay should respond in some way to at least one academic, critical study directly related to your essay's topic. The critical essay should not be the same essay that you treat in your second presentation. Note that you are not being asked to critique another person's work, but to respond to and/or extend the work. You may use more than one critical essay for your essay, but your essay should respond with some depth to at least one critical essay. (Your use of the other critical essays could be more superficial, and you may certainly use the same essay you treat in your second presentation as an additional research component to your term essay.)

You are required to submit either a formal essay proposal or an abstract. It should be at least one (full) page in length and no more than two pages. Include a Bibliography (as an additional page) that lists the critical essay(s) you plan to use in your essay.

An essay proposal will propose your essay topic to me. It will describe what you plan to do, what you hope to find (or what you hope to prove), and what texts you will look at. It is not unusual for a term essay to depart somewhat from its proposal, but the direction of your essay should not depart significantly from what you propose.

An essay abstract is a very condensed version of your essay. Its main function is to provide the results of the investigation, but it also gives a quick overview of the methodology. The term essay will not vary much from the abstract, since the abstract in effect gives the conclusions of the essay.

Your proposal/abstract will be graded mainly on how well it achieves the goal of the proposal/abstract. That is, it should discuss your essay's topic with a sufficient amount of depth. A proposal has an important rhetorical function: it serves to convince your grader that you know what you're doing and that what you're doing is entirely appropriate to the assignment (and will eventually earn a high grade). A proposal or abstract that does not go into sufficient detail is usually not worth as much as one that elaborates with details on the proposed topic.

Please feel free to discuss your ideas for your term essay and proposal/abstract with me. After I read your proposal/abstract, I may wish to meet with you to discuss your plans for the term essay. This may result in a significant shift in the direction you were proposing, but hopefully a more productive direction.

The essay proposal or abstract is due between February 22nd and March 12th. The term essay is due March 31st. Consult the course syllabus for information about extensions and lateness penalties.