· NO LESS THAN FIVE PAGES (excluding Works Cited page)
· Topic is of your choice of any of the readings/authors in your texts
Ideas for papers are listed below:
· Focus on one author – Study how the writer’s work evolved over time or contributed to the era that produced it, or focus on enduring themes throughout varied works, or the author’s background and inspirations.
· Highlight the literature of a period in time – How does society influence authors, and do authors have much of an influence on society? Perhaps compare and contrast what the popular reading material was during a time period, such as the Renaissance era, with the works that were produced during that time that endure as classic literature today.
· Take an in-depth look at a particular work – This could be a study of the themes of a novel, play or poem, the use of literary devices, or an analysis of the symbolism or characters. Remember to present a creative idea through your analysis.
1. In view of the striking differences between Old English and Middle English literature, is there any real justification in lumping these works together and referring to them as “medieval” literature? What, after all, do Chaucer and Langland have in common with the poets of The Dream of the Rood, Beowulf, and The Wanderer that sets them apart from later literature? Or should the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries be considered part of the Renaissance?
2. Compare the Beowulf poet’s treatment of Grendel and the dragon. Do these monsters contribute to our understanding of the ethical/social values of Anglo-Saxon society? What purpose does the monster serve in the poem? (Do Grendel and the monster represent different kinds of evil?)
3. How has the concept of the “hero” developed and changed over the centuries we have read? Look at Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Morte Darthur, and/or others, such as Shakespeare’s plays. What does this change/evolution suggest about the representative societies or mankind in general?
4. Discuss the representation of other worlds and cultures in two or three texts. How do these “other worlds” sustain and/or subvert the dominant ideological agendas of the works themselves?
5. Discuss how and why female authors and characters present their own lives in three texts. You may refer to comparable self-analysis by male writers and characters to strengthen your argument.
6. In what ways is Paradise Lost also the story of Milton’s life, and the Miltonic narrator a character who participates in the story as he tells it? Compare Milton’s self-portrait with those of two other writers we have studied. How does his or her fictive self—be it speaker, narrator, or character—correspond to what we know about the author from other sources.
7. Choose three settings from our texts and discuss how, either directly or by implication, they reflect their authors’ views about the social and political health of England.