The final paper presents an opportunity for you to explore, in greater detail, a primary source from the middle ages and reflect on how it can inform us about the society in which it was created. The sources listed below are each substantial enough to be drawn from to write an essay of 2500 words. Some of them are fuller versions of texts that we read excerpts of in class; others are texts mentioned in class but not read as a group.
The texts themselves are sufficient for making your arguments, but students can supplement their reading with scholarly introductions to the authors and texts. A good resource to begin with, especially for those texts below that do not include an editor’s introduction, is the Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 14 vols. (New York 1982), available in Maxwell Library, REF D114 .D5.
There is a certain amount of flexibility on the specifics of what you choose to write about. The sources below are paired with questions, the answers to which have the makings of a strong paper. However, students have the option of addressing a different aspect of the text if they so choose.
Use footnotes to cite evidence (direct quotations of text, ideas/information from the text, as well as insights or interpretations from scholarly introductions). Any phrases or ideas that are not your own must be cited (review course policy #4 on the syllabus before submitting your paper). Be consistent in the format of your footnotes. Your first citation should give the complete information and subsequent references should be abbreviated, but should include page numbers indicating where specifically in the text your evidence is located. For guidance, check the Chicago Manual of Style Guide. Proper citations in footnotes render a bibliography of works cited unnecessary in this case.
Papers will be graded on the following three components:
Does the paper have a main argument?
Is that argument sustained throughout the paper and is it convincing?
Use of evidence:
How is the primary source used to support the paper’s argument?
Are the references to the text and direct quotations appropriate and well chosen?
Is the evidence cited correctly and consistently?
Is the analysis clear and easy to follow?
Is the paper written in correct English (with complete sentences and proper punctuation)?
We will discuss the final paper specifically in class in the coming weeks. I am available for individual consultation during office hours or by appointment. As stated in the course syllabus, students wishing to pursue a topic or source not listed below may do so after consultation with me.
For everyone else:
Choose one of the sources below.
Marie de France, Lays (ca. 1170), trans. E. Mason, Lays of Marie de France and others (London, 1911).
We know little about Marie de France, beyond the fact that she lived in the late twelfth century and wrote a series of short poems, known as Lays.
What rules for love and morality are outlined in Maries Lays? Does Marie reinforce or challenge the social roles of men and women?
(Papers should deal with 5 lays, different from those read as a class. Note that only the first twelve in the Mason translation are from Marie.)
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