Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Shakespeare: Assignment

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University


PROJECT DUE:FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10th, 2012; 10:10 am.

The Objective:
“The readiness is all” (Hamlet V.ii.222).

Goals of this course include the improvement of your skills in information literacy and critical analysis by researching and articulating your insights into some kind of presentational or written format. On the due date noted, you will be pleased and alleviated to turn in one of the two most significant pieces of work you will have produced for the semester in this class — a six-page analysis of a scene from our first play, accomplished ideally as a group project involving one or two other people.

The Project:
“O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!” (Hamlet I.v.88).

Decide if you intend to work in a group or two or three, or if you’re working alone. Collaborative projects are strongly encouraged here but not forced. Once you decide to work with others, the project is locked in; so do not agree to join with parasites, scuts, slackers, or knaves who will come futilely whimpering to me later for extensions when they get booted out of the group.

The project will be minimally a total of six pages, double-spaced. This document will consist of at least four of those pages consisting of interpretive analysis focused on one scene, followed by at least one full page of annotated bibliography consisting of at least two entries, each one summarizing a different, relevant, academic journal article.

Finding a Topic:
“More matter with less art” (Hamlet II.ii.95).

From within Twelfth Night or Coriolanus, select a specific short scene or a logically extracted portion of a scene. Good choices include those scenes not necessarily receiving much attention by directors or even in class. Generally speaking, the more unlikely and obscure the scene, the greater the opportunity to be impressive with your analytical work. Of course new insights into the more famous scenes can be impressive too.

Re-read the scene repeatedly, noting especially any uncertainties and ambiguities: for example, how at each moment is each character behaving; what do you visualize each character doing when speaking and when not speaking; what obscure phrasings and oblique allusions need explanation (probably far beyond what the minimal footnotes offer); what word-play takes place; what themes of the play resonate here; what light does this scene shed on the major events of the play?

“That would be scann’d” (Hamlet III.iii.75).

Research your subject. When working in a group, how you divide up the labor is your choice. Each project is required to include at least two secondary sources, and it is certain that the internet is not your salvation. Go to the WSU Libraries web page — http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/ — and instead of hitting Griffin automatically, select Find Journal Articles, scroll to the English Literature indexes, and select the MLA International Bibliography. Then conduct a search with some logical keywords. The ideal sources are scholarly journal articles. These are often gathered together in books, but you need to demonstrate that you can carry out more sophisticated research than a book search. Encyclopedia-type online resources are embarrassing and worthless at the academic stage in which you should be operating now. The articles do not need to address your subject directly. They should, however, relate to your subject and supply at least some pithy quotations to help illuminate the importance and key ideas within your chosen scene. A significant part of the grade on this project will reflect the quality and pertinence of the resources.

Doing the Bloody Work:
“Words, words, words” (Hamlet II.ii.192).

Original insight and analysis should still dominate the entire discussion. Out of the total six pages, your final revised essay must be a minimum of four full, typed, double-spaced pages containing an intriguing (not underlined) title, an original unified thesis (which this time will likely be a statement identifying the value or special function of your chosen scene), vigorous analytical work (explaining details, suggesting stage directions, etc.), no extra spacing between paragraphs, all in a clean, effective, illuminating, properly documented presentation (correctly punctuated in-text parenthetical citations of act, scene and line numbers, or, for secondary sources, of author and page). The analysis should consist of microscopic details, performance suggestions, and interpretive insights, organized logically (not necessarily chronologically through the scene) in a way that supports and explains your thesis vision of the overall scene.

The Annotated Bibliography:
“A hit, a very palpable hit” (Hamlet V.ii.295).

The remaining minimum of one page should consist of an annotated bibliography: a correctly formatted MLA-style Works Cited list with summaries of and commentaries upon each resource following its corresponding bibliographical entry. For further instruction regarding format and details of documentation, refer to the web page — https://michaeldelahoyde.org/shakespeare/mla — or ask me ahead of time.

The Deal:
“I prithee take thy fingers from my throat” (Hamlet V.i.260).

“Are you gonna be like really strict on us about Works Cited format and all that stuff?” Uh, yeah? And stop priding yourself on having a jaunty identity based largely on your supposedly unique lack of skill in spelling. The presentation and appearance of your work should be proofread and letter-perfect so that niggling surface matters do not distract your readers from your ideas.

You are obligated to hand in the assignment at the beginning of the class period on the designated due date. Truancy is, of course, no excuse (i.e., “I couldn’t get my paper in ‘cuz I cut class”). Fate, as we know, plays amusing tricks. I tell you right now that Aunt Louise could drop in a flash on “paper-due eve”: it is your obligation to anticipate anything like this in your life that could go wrong and to take preventive measures or to develop back-up plans. You also must accept responsibility for being so foolish as to stake your grade on a computer’s or printer’s reliability. And no bitter ironies about roommates and alarm-clocks. No work submitted means you did not meet the requirements of the course (big F); late work will not be read but at least you will have met requirements minimally (little F factored in).

Instructions and examples for the required MLA-style documentation are on the site.
Other writing recommendations about various issues can be found also,
including my snotty comments regarding rancid phrases
and about generally turning in the project.

I am glad to provide advice and help at any stage, from pre-writing and researching to the drafting, of this project. Ultimately, though, it must be completed and turned in when due; the semester schedule does not allow for screwing around and lame excuses. The project is worth roughly 10% of your final grade for the course.

* * *

PROJECT DUE: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10th, 2012; 10:10 am.

“all this can I / Truly deliver” (Hamlet V.ii.376-386).

“O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!” (Hamlet III.i.150).