English 207: World Folktales and Literature
Guidelines for Papers: Spring 2006    

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Associate Professor of English
Ferrum College

Folktales and Literature Course Home Page

Grading Criteria for English 207 Essays

Paper 2: Due April 20, 2006

Compare one literary work and one folktale in an essay at least five pages long. Be sure to develop a precise thesis that focuses on specific points of comparison and/or contrast (e.g., focus on particular motifs the stories have in common, or how the literary work parodies or departs from or expands on the folktale.) The literary work may be a poem, story, novel, literary fairy tale (by a specific author, such as Hans Christian Andersen, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Robin McKinley, or Oscar Wilde), picture book, film, or play. Any of the literary works assigned for this class would make a good subject for this paper, if you can compare it with one folktale or ballad or fable or legend.

If you use a literary work not assigned to the class, get your choice approved before the paper is due. If you use a folktale not in the anthologies or on a web site, be sure the professor has a copy of it when you turn in your paper. If you want to find other stories to use in this paper or other projects, see the Sur La Lune Fairy Tale Pages. The sections "Similar Tales Across Cultures" will give you other variants of well-known fairy tales. The sections "Modern Interpretations" give references to novels, plays, short stories, poems, films, etc. based on classic fairy tales.  Many copies of older fairy tales are also reprinted in this site.

Follow the other guidelines below, for the first paper assignment, on general requirements for paper writing. For more ideas about comparing folktales in a comparison paper, see assignment page from English 102. (It refers to some pages in the Little, Brown Handbook that explain ways to organize comparisons.)

Don't turn in your paper without revising and editing it, asking yourself the following questions:

Be sure to read the Grading Criteria for English 207 Essays and general guidelines below for paper 1.


Third Paper Assignment: By the end of the semester, submit a 3-page paper on your project topic, or submit at least 3 pages of writing from your journal to be graded as a formal writing assignment.  You can focus these papers in any way you choose.  They may include reviews or critiques of works you read or watched for the course or for your project, or any other type of analysis.  They must contain more than plot summary. This assignment can take the form of one unified paper or two separate short essays, as long as the total is at least three pages of writing that fulfills the college's criteria for writing.

Remember that you must complete 15 pages of formal writing on tests and papers to satisfy  the writing requirements for this class. You cannot earn a grade of C or higher in this course without earning a C or higher on the writing assignments required by the course. The reading journal is an additional 20% of the final grade but does not count as a formal writing requirement.

Paper 1:

• Required length of paper: three double-spaced typed pages (at least 750 words)
• This short length means that as you choose your topic, you must refine the focus and develop a very specific thesis that can be supported adequately with only six to ten paragraphs of discussion. Your paper can be longer than the minimum requirement, but don’t pick a focus that would require eight or ten pages.

• Deadline: Thurs., Mar. 2, 2006, 5 p.m. But if you want your paper graded before your midterm grades are submitted, I must have your paper by Tues., Mar. 4. (Otherwise I will grade it during or after midterm break.)

• Review the paragraph guide and general guidelines on literature papers before, during and after writing your paper (They have not been revised for this particular course but contain some useful general instructions). I would be glad to help with focusing topics, or developing outlines or drafts, any time before the paper is due. The Composition Center is also open for assistance with writing papers. Handbooks on writing about literature and samples of student essays are available in the Composition Center.

Topic: Select one story we are studying in this course (folktale, narrative poem, or other work of literature). Discuss a major theme of that story and explain how the motifs and other details in that work support the theme. If you want, you can compare two closely related tales. (But the second paper assignment will require comparing a folktale and another type of literature. And you will have the opportunity to write about folktales or other related literature or movies outside the required class readings in your project report.) You may also use a film adaptation of a folktale for this assignment, as long as it is a film not too long that the professor is familiar with..

• In the introduction, be clear about the type of literature you are discussing. So far in this class we have discussed, from folk traditions, a myth, several legends, pourquoi tales, fables, and folktale types that include animal tales, trickster tales and quest stories. From literary traditions (works with individual authors), we have discussed poems, short stories, tales from medieval collections of tales (including a beast fable and a fabliau), and a novel. Remember that the different types of folk literature often overlap and some stories may fit into more than one category. It’s not necessary to identify every label that might apply to your story, but avoid using labels that don’t apply. Don’t refer to authors or writers of a story unless there really is an identifiable author. If applicable, you might need to refer to the reteller of a folktale. Don’t refer to the “original” version of a tale unless you have definite information about an adaptation or retelling and the particular tale it is based on.

Thesis: Be sure you have a precisely worded thesis in the introduction of your paper, and that each paragraph contains clear ideas and specific examples from the text to support the thesis.

Remember that a thesis must be more than an announcement of your topic. For example, if you are discussing the story of Peronella from The Decameron, your introductory sentences will probably identify the author and tale and type of tale. This sentence is NOT an acceptable thesis because it contains only obvious facts: “The tale of Peronella tricking her husband contains elements often found in medieval fabliaux.” Your thesis must state your main idea about the theme of the story and its use of folk motifs. This sentence would be an acceptable thesis for this assignment: “Like earlier medieval fabliaux, Boccaccio’s humorous tale of Peronella makes fun of a husband whose wife gets away with deceiving him.”

Another example of a thesis statement: “Although ‘Brer Rabbit, Businessman’ contains motifs found in other trickster tales with talking animals as characters, this tale is unusual because Brer Rabbit gets away with cheating the other characters; no one tricks him in return and he does not learn his lesson.”

Be sure to develop your own precise thesis. Do not copy one of these examples.

Editing: Follow the instructions for editing and proofreading your paper on the general guidelines on literature papers. Use spell check but use it carefully and do not expect a grammar or spell checker to catch all your errors, since only a human can read your sentences to make sure they have the structure you need and you have typed the right words in the right places. Leave yourself enough time to edit and proofread carefully after you have composed and printed the paper. If the paper is submitted with an excessive number of mechanical errors, I may not be able to read it all or grade it.

Documentation: You should not be using secondary sources in this paper. Your primary source is the story or poem you are discussing. If you quote directly from the text, give the page number(s) in parentheses from the anthology or from a photocopied text or web site. If you discuss a poem that fits on one page, use line numbers instead of page numbers to identify quotations. At the end of the paper give a complete citation for your primary source(s), using MLA documentation style. If you do refer to any other sources, it is your responsibility to add complete documentation to them. If sources are misused or documentation is incomplete, I will not be able to grade the paper.

Be sure to read the Grading Criteria for English 207 Essays.


05/16/06 09:55 PM
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