Seminar Papers and Proposals, EH 540/649 Virginia Woolf        Summer 2004

Deadlines Proposal: TBA
Seminar Paper
Length Proposal: 250-500 words plus bibliography (preferably typed)
Seminar Paper
: 10-12 typed pages (about 2500 words)
Bibliography For the proposal, provide a Works Cited in MLA form, indicating the works studied and any secondary materials cited. Also include a list of Works Consulted for secondary material located but not specifically cited in the proposal. You must show that you have identified at least 12 secondary sources (these may include Woolf’s essays, diaries, and letters).


Topics Choose a topic relevant to one of the three Woolf books assigned. Several different approaches are appropriate.  Just be sure you focus on analysis, not description, and that you narrow your topic to something that can be developed thoroughly in the time and space available. 
Scholarly Research I expect your seminar papers to demonstrate thorough familiarity with the scholarly research on your book, especially research relevant to your topic. For example, if you are writing on bird images in To the Lighthouse, I would expect you to know what others have said about bird images in that novel and in Woolf’s other novels. There are several ways to demonstrate in your seminar paper (and in the proposal) that you have done your research:
 1) write a paragraph or more discussing the relevant research, 
 2) work in references to scholarship in the body of the essay, 
 3) use your research to back up major claims, 
 4) all of the above. 
However, you choose to do it, I expect a bibliography of at least a dozen entries, including references to Woolf’s diaries and letters, to Woolf biographies, and to scholarly articles and books about Woolf’s work.

Suggestions for Drafting Your Proposal

Remember, the purpose of this proposal is to explain the "angle" you will take in writing about the selected topic. The proposal also serves to demonstrate your preliminary research and ability to use it appropriately.

Title - Title the proposal as you might title the finished paper.
Example: The Hero’s Journey in The Voyage Out
The proposal with that title described a paper applying Joseph Campbell’s theory about the structure of the hero’s journey and demonstrating how it fits Rachel Vinrace.
NOTE: you can certainly change the title if your research leads you to conclusions unanticipated in the proposal

Paragraph 1 - State the overall purpose or question your paper will answer. You might lead up to this, or state it in the opening sentence, whichever seems to work.
Example: Does Campbell’s structural analysis of the hero’s journey illuminate Rachel’s journey?

Development - In succeeding paragraphs (or in paragraph 1), explain how you plan to go about answering the main question (fulfilling the purpose). You might do this in the form of a list of subordinate questions to be answered. Make sure each of the subordinate questions logically relates to the main question. (Note that you are not required to list questions like this.  It may be easier to discuss what you want to do in another way.)
1. What is Campbell’s analysis of the hero’s journey, and have others applied it to literature (rather than myth, as he does)?
2. What ideas or themes does the hero’s journey illuminate in The Voyage Out?
3. How does the hero’s journey relate to developmental themes in the novel (e.g., reading it as a bildungsroman)?
4. What difference does it make to the hero’s journey when the hero is a woman?
5. Do these ideas about the hero’s journey support or predict the ending (or help us understand the meaning of Rachel’s death)?

Listing questions like those above is useful. You should flesh these out in narrative discussion of how you are approaching your main question, like this:
Example: From my initial reading of the novel, I believe that reading Rachel’s journey as a mythic hero’s journey makes it more than a bildungsroman. The mythic reading makes Rachel stand for young womanhood meeting the challenge of patriarchal society, in which woman’s mythic role is not heroic in the sense that a male hero is heroic.

Sample Proposals - see the Sample Paper column on the About the Course page.

Style Notes  

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