Paper Topics

British Writers I
Fall 1997

Paper #2, 2000 words, 30% of your grade, due Thursday, 16 April.

Ideally, you should choose for yourself what you would like to write about. What is your favorite poem/author/character/idea in what we have read? (Remember that every paper should have a point; it is neither an exercise nor a report, but an essay.)

Save yourself a heap of grief and READ THE GUIDELINES on how to write essays before undertaking this project. And please remember that no unproofread paper is worth more than a C (I'd prefer to give A's and B's).

Then come talk to me about your ideas. Sometimes in only a few minutes I can help you develop your ideas so that you have a clear idea of where your paper is headed and how to go about writing it.

The following are suggestions for those who have not come up with their own topics. (Remember, too, that a topic is not a thesis .) You may alter any of these topics to suit yourself, but clear your topic with me to avoid disasters:

Writers often choose to make their work useful or profitable (remember "use and delight"? "profit and pleasure"?) by exposing evil in one form or another. Marlowe chose tragedy; Jonson chose comedy. Discuss the way or ways either playwright (or both, if you feel ambitious) uses the genre he has chosen to achieve his goal.

The way(s) women are represented in Renaissance drama

a too-huge topic that would have to be limited severely.
Which playwrights/work(s) do you want to discuss?
Which women? Remember that your paper must have a point.

Early Modern seduction strategies

I don't want a list--I've read all the works, so don't just tell me what they say. Remember, too, that seduction may be a positive thing or a negative thing; it may involved sex or it may not. Think of Duessa, Mephisto, the sonnets, Shakespeare's lovers, Volpone, Sin.

The use of allegory in Early Modern Literature.

Images of beauty (or of anything else) in Early Modern Literature.

There are many possible topics on Shakespeare's sonnets.

What is Shakespeare's view (views?) of [yourchoice]?
Look at a few sonnets and ask yourself how Shakespeare does what he does (makes you feel the way he does; makes you understand something new). Then formulate a thesis about your observations.
Don't limit yourself to the sonnets we read in class.

  • The themes of deception and/or self-deception
    Think, for instance, of the plays we read--or Milton. I want more than an elaborate list; you need a thesis, followed by careful analysis.
    The relationships between two or more of the plots in Much Ado About Nothing
    There are generally thought to be three: Hero-Claudio, Beatrice-Benedick, and Don John-Boracchio. They are connected by theme, diction, and image in a number of ways. Explore (and remember that your paper must have a point).
    The use of the word heaven in Renaissance literature.

    The nature of Milton's Hell

    Is it hellish?
    What makes it awful?
    How does it work?
    Is his vision of Hell effective? Why?
    Think about how you would represent Hell.

    If you'd like to try your hand at a comparison paper (and be sure you read the material in the guidelines if you decide to try it), try one of the following:

    What would you rather write about?

    Return to Course Page

    Rev 4/98