Shakespeare: Assignment

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University


PROJECT DUE:MONDAY, APRIL 16th, 2012; 10:10 am.

On the due date noted, you will be pleased and alleviated to turn in the most significant single piece of work you will have produced for the semester in this class — an eight-page paper, primarily analyzing of a scene from one of the plays, encouraged as an accomplishment in the form of a group project. This assignment is in most respects identical with the previous one.


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

1) Once again, decide if you intend to work in a group or two or three or four, 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.

2) Select a Shakespeare play from later in the semester than available for the first assignment: that means either Henry V (highly encouraged), or The Taming of the Shrew, or [to be decided]. Then select a specific short scene within the play or a logically extracted portion of a scene. The best choices will be those scenes not treated or 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.

3) 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; 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? The most productive way to make a true authentic new discovery to focus the paper is to follow a path begun by an interesting or inadequate footnote. What do other editions of the play say about that moment or phrase? What do they fail to say, or fail to connect with other aspects of that moment in the play. What did Shakespeare want us better dogs to sniff out?

4) Research your subject. When working in a group, how you divide up the labor is your choice. Each project is required this time to include at least four secondary sources, and these must be scholarly journal articles. Go to the WSU Libraries web page — — 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. Scholarly journal articles are sometimes gathered together in books and/or may be available on the Internet, but you need to demonstrate that you can carry out more sophisticated research than a book search or a cheesy web 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 play 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.

5) Original insight and analysis should still dominate the entire discussion. Out of the total seven pages, your final revised essay must be a minimum of five 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 textual 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.

6) The remaining minimum of two pages 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 — — or ask me ahead of time.

7) Proofread well so that minor surface matters do not distract readers from your ideas, since “that would set my teeth … on edge” (III.i.131).

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 compressed schedule of late semester does not allow for screwing around and lame excuses. The project is worth roughly 20% of your final grade for the course.

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PROJECT DUE: MONDAY, APRIL 16th, 2012; 10:10 am.

[That’s the latest moment of submission; you are welcome and encouraged to turn in the project earlier.]