1. For your topic, you need to choose a single myth or a single work of the humanities (i.e. a single work of history, religion, visual arts, philosophy, performing arts, or literature) based on a myth. The topic cannot be a creature, god or goddess, person, event, geographic place (i.e. city, country, region, etc.), time period, style, movement, or collection of works. Therefore, you need to choose a single myth or a single building, dance, film, novel, opera, painting, philosophical text, photograph, play, poem, religious text, sculpture, short story, song, television series, etc. that is based upon a myth. Some examples of appropriate topics include:
• myths such as Enuma Elish, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Legend of the Five Suns, Oedipus, Pyramus and Thisbe, Ramayana, Sigurd, or Sunjata.
• buildings based on myths such as Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom or the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas
• dances based on a myth such as Martha Graham’s Night Journey or Julius Reisinger’s Swan Lake
• films based on a myth such as The Clash of the Titans or Mulan
• novels based a myth such Neil Gaiman’s American Gods or Marion Zimmer
Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon
• operas based on a myth such as Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung
or Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice
• paintings based on a myth such as Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His
Son or Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus
• philosophical texts based on a myth such as Albert Camus’ The Myth of
Sisyphus or Porphry’s On the Cave of Nymphs
• photographs based on a myth such as Julia Margaret Cameron’s Parting of
Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere or Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths’
photograph of the Cottingley Fairies
• plays based on a myth such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust or
• poems based on a myth such as William Butler Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan” or
Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck”
• religious texts that are considered by some to be based on a myth such as the
Buddhist Sutras, Christian Bible, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Hindu Vedas, Jewish Tanakh, Islamic Qu’ran, Mayan Popol Vuh, or the Taoist Tao Te Ching.
• sculptures based on a myth such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne or Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus of Rhodes’ Laocoön and His Sons
• short stories based on a myth such as the Grimm Brothers’ “The Frog Prince” or Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Paradise of Children”
• songs based on a myth such as Cream’s Tales of Brave Ulysses or Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song
• television series based on a myth such as Lost or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Myths or works of the humanities based on myths from the textbooks, the supplemental resources under Web Links, and the Power Points from our course are all viable topics. Please feel free to run potential topics by me for approval and input before you submit your outline.
2. After choosing the topic, you next need to choose which question, meaning or significance, you will answer about the topic (you have to choose one or the other).
If you choose meaning, you will decide what is the overall meaning the creator of the topic is trying to communicate through the topic. If you choose significance, you will decide why the topic is significant or important.
3. You will then need to identify the rationale for choosing the topic you chose; in other words, you spell out exactly why you chose the topic. And let’s go beyond the obvious one, which goes something like this: “this pain-in-the-neck humanities professor is making me write a research paper, so with a proverbial gun to my head, I chose….”
4. You will then formulate your thesis which is a single declarative sentence that answers the question you have chosen. The thesis should clearly, precisely, and explicitly state your interpretation of either the topic’s meaning or significance and it should mention the topic directly by its full title and the creator(s) by full name. The thesis should NOT:
• merely describe or summarize the topic;
• have any quoted content in it;
• contain any superlatives, such as “the greatest,” “the best,” “the most
accomplished,” etc., in it;
• be an “IOU” statement that promises to state the work’s meaning or
significance but does not deliver on that promise.
5. Your topic, question, rationale, and thesis will be included in your introduction paragraph. Immediately following the introduction paragraph, you will create a concession paragraph that offers an alternate or contrary thesis to the thesis you stated in the introduction paragraph. You do not need to quote a source for the contrary or alternate thesis; you can generically create one stating “some people may not agree and instead argue that….” After stating the contrary or alternate thesis, you then go on to state why your thesis is more reasonable.
6. In your five main body paragraphs, you will choose at least five pieces of evidence, which include details, examples, quotations, etc., directly from at least five specific, separate, and appropriate sources to support the thesis. The topic itself constitutes one of the five required sources. The use of authoritative, reliable, and scholarly sources is paramount to the quality of your research. Appropriate sources for research can include articles, audio-visual materials (CDs, films, DVDs, records, tapes, videos, etc.), books, CD-ROMs, interviews, lectures, performances, specialized reference sources, surveys, Websites, etc. Sources can include prior scholarship on
the work, biographical information on the creator of the work, historical information on the time when and the place where the work was created, etc. Sources should always be evaluated in accordance with the following criteria:
• Is the source authoritative?
• Is the author an expert?
• Is the source current?
• Does the source support its information sufficiently?
• Is the author’s tone balanced?
Encyclopedias (such as Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, etc.), dictionaries, summaries/synopses (such as BookRags, CliffNotes, Shmoop, SparkNotes, etc.), and other highly generalized reference sources will not count as appropriate sources of evidence for your paper. No more than 50% of your sources of evidence should be Internet-based. Make sure that you explicitly demonstrate the relevance of your evidence to your thesis.
Online databases do contain articles and books that originally appeared in print but were later digitized and added to the database. If you cite such an article or book to its original print source, it will not count as an Internet source; if you cite it to the online database, it will count as an Internet source. It is a similar situation with online videos found on YouTube; if you can find where and when the documentary was originally broadcast on television or shown in theaters and cite it to its original source, it will not count as an Internet source; if you cite it to YouTube, it will count as an online source.
7. Write a typed, double-spaced research paper at least seven pages in length (exclusive of the title page and “Works Cited” page) which, at a minimum, should include the following elements:
• an introduction paragraph containing the topic, question, rationale, and thesis.
• a concession paragraph, immediately following your introductory paragraph, which explicitly acknowledges an alternate or contrary thesis to your thesis and explains why your thesis is more reasonable.
• at least five main body paragraphs, each dealing with at least one piece of evidence from a specific, separate, and appropriate source, in support of the thesis; you need a minimum of five specific, separate, and appropriate sources.
• a conclusion paragraph summarizing your evidence and restating the thesis.
8. Your paper should also have a title page containing, at a minimum, the title of your paper, your name, the course and section number, the instructor’s name, and the due date. A “Works Cited” page, formatted according to the MLA style of citation, must be included. Bear in mind that a “Works Cited” page is not a bibliography; only
works which you directly cite or refer to in your paper should be included on the “Works Cited” page.
9. Your paper should be free of typographical and grammatical errors. Please proofread your work very carefully and consult a grammar handbook for reference.
10. As Sir Isaac Newton observed, “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants.” Always give proper credit to the sources you have used. To avoid plagiarism, all direct quotations or paraphrased material from a source must be appropriately cited in accordance with the MLA style of citation. If you are not familiar with the MLA style of citation, please consult the MLA Handbook.