Term Paper (2500 wds; 29%)
For this paper you have two options:
A) The first option entails a paper which draws upon the work of at least two theorists in undertaking a reading of a “text” according to the terms of Option B from the short essay assignment, cheap above. Again, I will not read papers which simply reproduce simplistic cultural studies analyses of phenomena. Such papers will meet a gruesome fate. The same criteria of evaluation apply to this as to the short essay; your papers must be rigorous, theoretically-sophisticated, and above all argumentative. Don’t make me ask you, “So what?”
B) Alternatively, you may write a theory-based paper which treats the work of at least two theorists. This option does not include a concrete interpretative element, but focusses exclusively on theoretical problems arising from the different ways in which various theorists approach some of the same issues (subjectivity, power, agency, sexuality, gender, form, art, culture, language, meaning, etc.). This option will require you to formulate a rigorous argument about the theories we have studied, and to undertake a close critical examination of their hidden assumptions, implications, and consequences. Again, the significance of your argument should be made clear.
Nuance and sophistication are the hallmarks of good papers of either variety; if you are in doubt, come to office hours and consult with me before proceeding. Of course, it goes without saying that spelling and grammar are of paramount importance. Papers of any sort that do not have clear and compelling arguments to make will be unable to surpass a B- mark, no matter how well written they are. Similarly, papers that contain more than three serious grammatical mistakes (e.g., comma-splice, sentence fragment) or persistent minor errors (e.g., pronoun reference or agreement problems) will likewise be unable to surpass a B- mark. If you have perennial difficulties with one or more of these, you need help. I am happy to sign permission slips to send you to the Writing Centre. Don’t say you weren’t warned.