Below I have suggested topics for the first writing assignment. You may write on your own topic (about one or two of the above works) as well, but you must clear it with me by Thu., Jan. 18. I will not accept a paper written on a topic that I have not OKed. Papers should be 5-7 pages long, double-spaced, typed, clipped or stapled, 12 point font, with appropriate margins. First drafts are required and due Mon., Jan. 22. Final papers are due Mon., Jan. 29. See the policy statement for the penalties on late work.
Keep in mind that topics below are just that – topics. You will need to turn your topic into a thesis. What is the difference between the two? Here are two examples:
Topic: Batman and Superman have many similarities and differences.A thesis makes an argument about a work; it presents a point of view. The rest of your paper should present the evidence (examples and quotations) that proves your analysis is legitimate. Resist making value judgments about which text or texts are better—consider instead differences between what texts are doing.
Thesis: Although Batman and Superman have many superficial similarities—the capes, the hidden identities, etc.—they are in fact very different; Batman’s focus on fighting crime reflects a concern about real, often urban problems, while Superman fights aliens or magicians, entities that pose a threat to our understanding of reality.
1) Compare the Arthur of Geoffrey’s text to the Arthur of the Mabinogion. What differences and similarities are there? Come up with a thesis discussing salient similarities and/or differences and their relationship to the meaning in the text. Keep in mind that Arthur is not necessarily the same in all parts of the Mab.
2) The History of the Kings of Britain is a history. The romances of Chrétien de Troyes are romances. Can you place the stories of the Mabinogion in either of those genres? If the answer is no, don’t do this question; if yes, how is it useful to think about the Welsh stories as either romance or history?
3) Discuss the role of the supernatural in one or two of the works that we have read (you may specify which Welsh stories or which of Chrétien’s romances). What is supernatural, and what role does it play in the texts? You may need to make clear what you mean by “supernatural”; a dictionary definition of the word will NOT be useful.
4) Discuss the role of women in either the Mab or Chrétien or
both. It is essential that you do not bring preconceived notions
about the Middle Ages (or, for that matter, about what you think I want
to hear) to this question, OK?