Please note that each portion of this assignment must be completed by the deadline indicated in pink (including stages that do not receive a formal grade): there will be a one-point deduction from the final grade on this final paper for each stage not completed by the deadline.
During the next few weeks you will complete a series of assignments focusing on this medieval poem, culminating with a Final Project. Here are the assignments so far:
Part 1. OED Investigation (not graded, simply must complete): Using the list of key exam passages for Gawain, select an episode that you remember as especially interesting. Skim through the text and locate 4 words that are unfamiliar or used in an unfamiliar way (it is important to do this work individually and not with another student). Look up each word in the Oxford English Dictionary, abbreviated as OED (see link above) and see if any revealing definitions are there, definitions that help to clarify the sentence in which that word appears. If you click on the link at the top of the entry to "Show all" for the "Quotations," that will reveal a catalogue of quotations from famous texts going back to the 15th century (there are a lot of abbreviations, so do your best to sort it out). You do not need to print any of these pages for now –– but keep a list of which words you looked up, the page and line # where you found them in the poem, and jot down a few notes about any interesting discoveries you made. I will call on people in class to let us know what they found, and we'll look at those entries together. Complete this exercise by Thu. March 14
Part 2: Choose a character and 2 passages (not graded, simply must complete): select a character from the poem that you would like to focus on for your final paper and locate 2 key passages about that character from the text to explicate and develop an argument about. If you're not quite sure which character you'd like to write about, you should begin by reviewing the Narrative Overview for the whole poem that was posted on the course website to remind yourself of the details of the poem. Review the possible passages (from Exam #1) posted on the website and choose two that fit well together. Look at the “Guiding Questions” for the text, or review the Course Description to come up with a possible paper topic. If you have questions or you can’t decide between different scenes or characters, I will be happy to send you some feedback. Explicate the 2 passages using the Close Reading / Explication Guidelines: you may find it helpful to consult the OED for the historically specific meaning of 2 or 3 key words in your passages. Complete a brainstorming or freewriting exercise that produces 2–3 singled-spaced pages of ideas and notes. At this stage you might consider making an office hours appointment to discuss your ideas with me. Email your brainstorming notes, identifying the 2 passages you have chosen, and describing the focus you are developing for the argument. Due via email: Thu. April 4.
- begin by deciding which character you really find the most interesting
- you can choose any two key passages focused on that character from those listed for Exam #1
- I am not grading this explication / brainstorming exercise; you just need to complete it to get credit
- start with the Guiding Questions on Gawain to begin generating possible interpretive ideas
- then move on to some of the Explication Exercises to dig into the details of the language
- don't worry about grammar, spelling or organization -- that's supposed to be the beauty of brainstorming or freewriting: just get the ideas down on paper
- your goal is to come up with a broad range of possibilities for interpreting the two passages and the character; from the pages of brainstorming that you produce, you will probably use only 20–30% and develop those ideas further
- one other note: this can actually be a pretty fun stage of writing a paper ~ free associate . . . go down a few blind alleys. . . try out an interpretation you wouldn't dare to write in an exam essay
Part 3. Preliminary Outline of Final Paper (not graded, simply must complete): Your first task is to create a very preliminary outline of ideas for your Final Paper. You can produce this simply by doing this sequence of tasks: (a) review your brainstorming notes, (b) select the interpretive points about each passage that you find most interesting and could develop further, and (c) create a bulleted outline of those ideas for each passage; (d) if you are feeling like you've got some good momentum going, you could try out a very basic "working thesis statement." Actually, if the brainstorming exercise has really worked its magic, you probably will have some sense of what that central argument will be. You do not need to stick to this outline once you sit down to write your Rough Draft -- but this is an important stage for clarifying what interpretive topics really seem the most crucial for you. Only after you've done this outline, you should move on to the next stage. . .
MLA Bibliography / JSTOR Research (graded as √–, √ or √+): You will need to locate four scholarly articles (at least 7 pages long each) about Sir Gawain in one of the two new databases posted above. You should call up the pdf files for several articles and locate four that you find interesting and easy enough to comprehend the central argument (you do not need to read the entire article, just the first few pages should be enough to make this judgment). Create a "Works Cited" list for all four of the articles you examined carefully. To format your list of four sources properly, use the 5th link above and scroll to the bottom of the page for "Scholarly Journal" format.
Both the outline and the list of articles are due on Thu. April 11.
Part 4. MLA Bibliography Research Summary (graded as √–, √ or √+): Of the four articles you researched, choose the one that you found the most interesting, preferably related to some of the ideas that you have already been brainstorming about. If you would like some guidance about which article to summarize, just drop me an email. Then complete the following steps:
- print out that one full article
- read through it at least once with marginal notations in both pen and highlighter to show your comprehension of the article (mark the thesis, main points, passages you might want to quote, write questions where you don't understand the argument, or just other responses, etc.)
- compose a one-paragraph summary (about 500 words, single-spaced) of the argument for that one article
- print your summary with the proper "Works Cited" citation at the top; also include a regular heading at the top
- staple this summary page to an extra copy of the first page of the article (just the first page)
If you would like some sense of how I will grade marginal notations on your scholarly essay when you submit your Final Portfolio, consult this document that I created for my composition students. This summary is due on Wed. April 17.
Part 5. Formal Paper Assignment (graded as A+/–, B+/–, C+/– etc.): Focusing on your two chosen passages from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight compose a 6 to 8–page paper (1,800 min.––2,400 max. words: these are strict word parameters, you will need to meet the minimum and cannot exceed the maximum), analyzing those passages in relation to our central course themes and topics we have covered in lecture and class discussion. You should use the Close Reading / Explication Guidelines that we have been using for poetry, but also take into account broader questions of plot structure and character development. All students should also review the course link above titled “Conventions of the Literature Essay”–– failing to follow those guidelines will bring down your final grade on the paper.
(a) Compose a rough draft: compose a typed, rough draft of at least 6 full pages to bring to class during Week 15 for a paper workshop. Please note that missing class or failing to bring a full, typed, rough draft to class that day will result in a 2/3-grade deduction on your final grade on this final paper. If you happen to be sick on that day, you should still contact me to make arrangements to submit your rough draft via email. Due: Tuesday, April 23.
(b) Integrate scholarly article: return to the summary that you wrote for your chosen scholarly article on this text; hopefully that article will fit with the argument that you have been developing. Make an effort to integrate 2–3 brief direct quotations from this scholarly article into your own draft. If the article you chose turns out to be very different from the rough draft you have composed, you can certainly select a different article. Researching a second article is entirely optional, however. Just make the best effort you can with the article you’ve already read carefully.
(c) Submit Final Paper portfolio: On Tuesday, April 30 you will submit a portfolio (in a two-pocket folder) that includes all the preparatory work you did on the paper (explication photocopies, rough drafts, handwritten notes, notated copy of your scholarly article and summary, notes from your conferences, e-mails, feedback from other students, outlines, etc.) as well as your graded Short Response Papers. Please note that I will not accept a paper without this additional portfolio material. Such papers will receive an “F” with no option to rewrite.
Also. . . keep in mind that there will be a 5-point (i.e., a half-grade) penalty for repeating all of the same sentence-level, analytical and organizational problems that appeared in previous Short Response Papers. So, if you didn’t completely understand any of my feedback, it would be a good idea to come see me.
Wed. April 17: research summary on scholarly article due
Tue. April 23: rough draft due (bring 1 typed copy to class, minimum 6 pages)
Tue. April 30: final draft of Final Project in a portfolio
*please check these deadlines in your calendar carefully now. If you foresee any problems in meeting any deadline because of important conflicts, you will need to discuss this with me right away.
Remember that plagiarizing even a portion of any paper you submit for this course will result in Academic Integrity disciplinary proceedings, and the risk of failure in the course.
Quoting from texts and citing sources: Throughout your paper you should use parenthetical citation as demonstrated below. You do not need to list a “Works Cited” or bibliography page at the end since you already completed that exercise. I recommend using primarily briefer quotations, with perhaps 2–3 longer quotations for the whole paper.
Formatting and basic content guidelines:
-- download the “Paper Template” posted above and use or duplicate those exact formatting specs
Pointers for quoting text:
-- the title of the text should always be underlined or in italics
-- to emend a quotation, put your changes in brackets: [ text here ]
-- use an ellipsis like this . . . . to indicate where you have omitted some text in the middle of a sentence only
-- to quote from a long poem like Sir Gawain, include a lower-case “L” followed by the line numbers like this: (l. 625–28) to indicate a direct quotation from lines 625 to 628.
Parenthetical citation for scholarly article: simply include the author’s last name and just the page number in parentheses after the direct quotation. Remember to put the period on the outside of the closed parentheses.
Ex: One scholar has pointed out that “To represent man’s body as a temple or a castle and his soul as the priestess or governess was conventional” (Parish 301).