Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Shakespeare: Assignment

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University


PROJECT DUE: WEDNESDAY, JULY 28th, 2010; 9:00 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, something that ought to have a respectable afterlife — at least as a potential portfolio paper or project, but possibly as the central production of your own particular expertise in Shakespeare studies, or the kernel of a larger future masterpiece. Eventually you’re going to die; aim for step one of immortality now. Here’s your outrageous fortune: the options.

THE SECOND PROJECT: a minimum six-page paper or equivalent.

If you submitted a completed four-page paper for your first assignment, this slightly more substantial manuscript will fulfill project requirements for the semester. The typical weakness with such papers last time was the too vast or vague nature in the discussion with at best only a pretense that any analysis was focusing on a representative quotation. This inevitably led to a diluted discussion of the purported issue. Again, such a project this time, and its resultant grade, will suck.

Be conscientious, nay ruthless, merciless! in focusing your scope and in exploring implications of a specific moment, a subtle motif, or a specific quotation. Find a specific facet of the one selected work from among the last three plays of our semester, a subtle motif, or a peculiarity in need of explanation. Why is this one observation or insight of yours significant in the larger framework of the play?

You are required this time to research and include several secondary sources, but original insight and analysis should still dominate the entire discussion. Your final revised essay must be a minimum of five full, typed, double-spaced pages of analysis, containing an intriguing (not underlined) title, an original unified thesis, vigorous analytical work, no extra spaces between paragraphs, all in a clean, effective, illuminating, properly documented presentation (correctly punctuated in-text parenthetical citations of author and page), and then a one-page minimum of Works Cited (optionally annotated), correctly formatted in MLA style.

For further instruction regarding documentation, refer to the hand-out given with the previous assignment, or to the web page, or ask me ahead of time. Proofread well so that minor surface matters do not distract readers from your ideas. The grade for any project lacking a Works Cited list or containing a renegade, variant, or asinine documentation system will strike you as intensely disappointing.


I might be willing to approve other kinds of projects that demonstrate the same objectives that the paper does: ability to carry out sophisticated research, to discover an original purpose and focus, to write with clarity and influence your audience’s perspective. You may find a way to construct a bibliographical, filmic, pedagogical, or popular culture related project or media product appropriate to Shakespeare studies which will inspire enthusiasm and break new ground impressively. You may work on a collaborative endeavor with a colleague. But no junior high school crap: no mobiles of the character names in Romeo and Juliet, no cheesy “modern translations” that reduce Shakespeare to vapid slang, no cardboard constructions of production props for Macbeth after your trip to Burger King.

Sample papers, good to excellent, are available on this web site, as are instructions and examples for the required MLA-style documentation.

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 cheesy excuses.

PROJECT DUE: WEDNESDAY, JULY 28th, 2010; 9:00 am.