Final Paper Planning Early!

        Those of you who have taken English 215 (Critical Methods) and those who have discovered something of literary criticism's theoretical bases on their own may be ready to start thinking about final papers even now.  Imagine how good a paper you could write if you started working on it with three weeks left to go in the semester!  Imagine how thoroughly you could think through the argument and polish your own prose.  The final paper assignment stipulates only that the topic should be based mainly on one text we've read since the midterm exam and that it also should deal with at least one text from the first half of the semester.  (Exceptions might be two sections from a very large work we read after the midterm, like VolponeParadise Lost, Oroonoko, or The Way of the World.) 

        You can center your analysis on one text, using the other for comparison and contrast, or you can do a balanced analysis of both.  You also could refer to more than one subordinate text to help unpack your argument about the main, post-midterm text.  Though you may have "hunches" or even full-blown insights about the play that typical audiences would not detect, those hunches and insights all depend on some basic assumptions about how to read plays which you probably have unconsciously absorbed from your previous teachers. 

        Rather than charging at the play's evidence without being aware of your theoretical approach's assumptions, you may benefit from approaching the task of writing with a theory of interpretation in mind.  Click here for some ways theories help you write a literary analysis of some aspect of Volpone.