English 579: Restoration and Early 18th-Century Drama
Length: 5 pages, standard margins, double-spaced type
Value: 15% of final grade
Due: Friday, Feb. 11 at my office by noon. Note that this
is not a class day, but you will be submitting the paper as an
electronic file so you need not be on campus.
Please submit all papers
in file form thus:
Be sure your last name is in the file name. Be sure the file format is
either *.doc or *.rtf if you are using a Mac.
Although *.pdf is great for exacting formats, it is harder to for me to
comment directly in the file and copy & paste via your text, so
please avoid it. I will comment on your work via word/comment function.
First Paper Topics
1) Choose either a single scene or one act that is
especially significant to understanding one of the plays we've read,
and write an analysis of why that scene or act is particularly
important. Consider details in the language and style and well as
the more dramatic elements of plot, character, and matters of
performance and production. You will, however, have to be selective,
picking only the most interesting and provocative features of any of
these elements of drama. Read the scene or act slowly, with the kind of
close reading attention necessary to read a lyric poem well.
2) Choose one scene or act from any pair of our comedies thus far, The Country Wife, The Man of Mode,
and The Rover,
and develop a comparative argument explaining the most significant
differences and/or similarities in the way your chosen playwrights
comedy. You may wish to consider things like this: what role, if any,
does the sex of each author play in their representation of a picture
of manners in Restoration society? Does each author state or suggest
that a comic play ought to have a moral or teach any lessons? Who wins
and loses and why in each playwright's represented world? Does the play
address any serious issue of note and, if so, how are they kept comic?
You will again have to be selective and the paper should not be a
simple list of answers. Aim to unify the various ideas into a thesis.
3) Choose your own topic capable of sustaining a focused and
interesting 5-page analysis. Please discuss your topic with me if
you do choose this option.
This assignment calls upon you to practice your
in close- reading, but you may bring in other opinions from the reserve
list or beyond as long as you footnote any sources in MLA style,
the play(s) sufficiently in your own terms, and keep other
subordinate to your own. You do not,
however, have to consult any text beyond your chosen scene or act. You
will no doubt make sense of the selection you choose in
relation to the whole work from which it comes, but stay as focused as
possible on the details within, not beyond, your chosen
Even though close-reading
skills are sometimes associated with New Critical attitudes, you are
obliged to find some ideal of harmony or unity between your passage as
microcosm and the whole text, or author’s oeuvre, as macrocosm. You may
wish to show how your act or scene instead reveals some interesting
of structure, complication of apparent theme or moral, or contradiction
between apparent authorial intent and textual meaning as you understand