Rail yard background, from the Library of Congress


A Hypertext Resource for Literature

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Final Paper or Project

The following text describes the research paper option for the final project. Individuals or groups may also propose alternative projects. Any project for the course must be substantial and have a significant scholarly component. (In other words, if you want to build a Ulysses waterslide, you will need to produce substantial work on how such a waterslide intervenes in Joycean scholarship.) Within those bounds, I encourage you to think creatively about what a final project might involve.

If you choose to write a conventional essay, it should be at least 5000 words long. You should consider it as belonging to the same genre and using the same conventions as the articles that you read during the semester. You can conceptualize this essay as a longer version of the shorter paper, except that you will be intervening in a fuller version of the critical conversation that you have uncovered in your research. In other words, the aim of this essay is still to challenge and transform existing interpretations of your text in question, but that those existing interpretations will be gathered from recent published literary criticism. You should think of your audience, then, no longer as your classmates but rather as the critics who are interested in the same issues that you are.

To prepare for both papers during the semester, you may find it useful to read critical articles with an eye to writing your own essays. What problem is a given critic re-examining? Why? How is that critic intervening in an already-existing critical conversation? How does that critic wish to transform that critical conversation and/or the poem at hand? I strongly suggest that you find a critical writer whom you like and emulate that critic's way of setting up (framing) a problem. This is very different from plagiarizing someone's argument or content; instead, I mean that you should study a writer or an article that you find both persuasive and beautifully written in order to try to understand how that writer structures arguments and makes points.

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