You do not have to follow a specific format for this assignment, but I would suggest that you use your introduction to give an overview of magic’s place in the play or novel you’ve chosen to analyze. What are the two or three “big ideas” you want to convey about how magic works, what it means, how it changes, where it comes from, etc.? Then explain how the theory of magic you’ve chosen either does or doesn’t (or maybe partially does) give an adequate explanation of the play’s treatment of magic. Your first paragraph after the intro should offer a detailed but focused description of the theory of magic you’ll be working with. What are its main ideas about magic? What aspects does it highlight or relegate to the background? Does it discuss magic in relation to other paradigms like science, religion, or the arts? Does it look at magic from a historical perspective? In the modern world? In certain cultural traditions? Not all of these questions will be relevant to every theory, so only address the ones that are most helpful to you in giving a clear and focused account of the theory you’re writing about. Be sure to quote from the text to support your description of the theory.
The remainder of the essay should offer a reading of the novel or play in terms of the theory you’re applying to it. What aspects of the book’s action does the theory help to illuminate? What doesn’t fit? What does a reader gain from considering the text’s representation of magic in light of this particular theory? Engage with the play or novel in detail. You don’t need to summarize the plot (assume your reader has a working familiarity with the text), but you do need to explore (and quote!) specific passages in detail to support your claims about the text.
Your essay should be between 4-5 pages long (roughly 1000-1250 words), follow MLA conventions for citing sources, including parenthetical citations and a Works Cited list. I’ll spend some time in a subsequent lecture going over these conventions, but you can also find a handy guide to them here:
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