LITR 4370 Tragedy
Midterm2 / 2nd Midterm assignment
Revise & extend Genre & Learning Essays
+ begin research report

Thursday, 30 March 2017 
(email submission window 24-31 March)


(This webpage is the assignment for our course's second midterm, to be updated and refined up to 23 March, when paper copies will be distributed.)

Three parts to Midterm2:

Part 1. Continue genre definition and example(s) from Midterm1: Using the Introduction to Genres page, revise and extend your "working definition" of genre in all three required categories (Subject / Audience, Formal, Narrative) and use each category to analyze your genre of choice begun in Midterm1. Analyze two or more examples of your genre and integrate 4 research sources from course website or beyond. (total length: 6-8 paragraphs, 3+ double-spaced page equivalent)

Part 2. Learning about Tragedy 2: Revise and extend Essay begun in Midterm1 on learning experience with tragedy, extending to include Sophocles's Theban trilogy of plays on the family of Oedipus and the romance narrative relative to the tragedy and comedy narrative genres. (Revise / improve midterm1 draft & add at least 5-7 paragraphs for 9-10 paragraph total.) 

Part 3. Begin Research Report: Write at least 5-6 substantial paragraphs with four sources toward completion of your Research Report on selected special topic (to be completed on Final Exam)

Format: email

No regular class meeting on 30 March; classroom available for students who want to write exam in-class; instructor keeps office hours 1-5pm on Thursday 30 March.

Email exams due to whitec@uhcl.edu by midnight Friday, 31 March. "Submission window" is 24-31 March.

Unusual feature of this course's midterms and final exam: All 3 parts are semester-long writing projects. In response to feedback from instructor, additional course readings, and your continued learning, you will revise, update, and extend your Midterm1 drafts in Midterm2 and the Final Exam. This means the three essays you wrote for Midterm1 become three longer essays for Midterm2, and even longer essays on the Final Exam.

Instructor reads each draft as a more-or-less complete essay-in-progress. You will be graded not only on what you've added but on the overall quality of each entire essay-in-progress, including surface quality and thematic unity. You are expected to make improvements in response to your instructor's feedback.

Special requirements:

Both your essay and your research report must have titles.

Somewhere in Midterm2 refer directly to something you learned from Model Assignments, possibly from a Spring 2015 student's midterm2 or one of this semester's midterm1 submissions.

Somewhere in your midterm, refer at least once to Aristotle's Poetics and Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy. (You may already have fulfilled this requirement, but more than one reference to either can be impressive.)

In Essay 2 or elsewhere, refer to most if not all the plays read to this point, including Oresteia trilogy (Agamemnon + selections from Libation Bearers & Euminides); Mourning Becomes Electra / Homecoming, and Lysistrata; the Family of Oedipus cycle (Oedipus the King, Antigone, & Oedipus at Colonus); and scenes from Hamlet. You may also refer to the Bacchae.

Audience: A future member of our class (who may read your exam on Model Assignments). Help that student learn her or his way through our course materials and care about what both of you may learn. Of course your ultimate audience is your instructor, who mostly responds to how well you show what you're learning in terms of fulfilling the assignment, accounting for essential course content, and how readable and compelling your writing can be.

Details on Midterm2 Content

Part 1. Continue genre definition and example(s) from Midterm1: Using the Introduction to Genres page, revise and extend your "working definition" of genre in all three required categories (Subject / Audience, Formal, Narrative) and use each to analyze your genre of choice begun in Midterm1. Analyze two or more examples of your genre and Integrate 4 research sources from course website or beyond. (total length: 6-8 paragraphs, 3+ double-spaced page equivalent)

Contents (mostly repeats, revises, and redevelops Midterm1 Part 1, with fulfillment of criticisms regarding Midterm1 draft):

"Working Definition": Use Introduction to Genres to define the meaning, importance, and limits of "genre." Define and distinguish Subject / Audience genre, Formal genre, and Narrative genre with brief, general examples. These "working definitions" can be revised, questioned, or extended as you work with examples of your chosen genre.

Continue illustrating and analyzing the genre you chose in Midterm1: Improve and extend your definitions and your descriptions and analyses of examples from Midterm1. Explain so that someone who doesn't know what you're talking about can understand, both in definitions and examples. 

Continue analyzing your example(s) as genre: This essay is a classic exercise in the critical-thinking pattern of definition-example-analysis, in which a working definition is tested against examples, then revised or extended based on how the example and definition interact. Result: refreshed and continuing learning about genre and text-examples, plus critical thinking practice for how terms and meanings shift with application.

  • Requirement: You must describe or analyze your chosen genre and main text-examples through all three categories from Introduction to Genres:

    • Subject / Audience genre

    • Formal genre

    • Narrative genre (aspect most emphasized in course)

"Cite, explain, and analyze two or more examples of your genre from your reading, viewing, or listening experience and  and 4 research sources from course website or beyond."

  • If you introduced enough examples on the Midterm1 draft, you may simply revise and improve your explanations and analyses of those examples. If you didn't introduce enough examples or have thought of some new ones that help, add more. Readers love examples!

  • Your research sources may include the Introduction to Genres page and another term-page from our course website, terms index, or material learned from Model Assignments.

General revision advice based on Midterm1 submissions: Introduce examples as early as possible, and use them to help explain the three genre categories.

Part 2. Learning about Tragedy 2: Revise and extend Essay begun in Midterm1 on learning experience with tragedy, extending to include Sophocles's Theban trilogy of plays on the family of Oedipus and the romance narrative relative to the tragedy and comedy narrative genres. (Revise / improve midterm1 draft & add at least 5-7 paragraphs for 9-10 paragraph total.) 

Assignment:  Correct, improve, and extend your Learning Essay 1 from Midterm1. Review instructor's feedback. Rethink ideas and extend examples with more analysis and citations of texts and course website resources. Extend ideas you started in Midterm1 Learning Essay so that they connect or transition to ideas and examples in new paragraphs. Compare-contrast the romance narrative with the tragedy and comedy narrative genres explained in Midterm1 draft. (Satire is also possible though not required.)

Required references to texts: As examples and illustrations for your learning experince in Tragedy since Midterm1, you must refer to all three of the Family of Oedipus plays (Oedipus the King, Antigone, & Oedipus at Colonus) as well as scenes from Hamlet. You may also refer back to plays we read for Midterm1, or improve your references to those plays. You may also refer to the Bacchae.

If you did not refer to enough of our course readings in your Learning Essay's first draft for Midterm1, incorporate references to examples from Oresteia trilogy (Agamemnon + selections from Libation Bearers & Euminides); Mourning Becomes Electra / Homecoming, and Lysistrata; plus or minus other plays (or films) you know or class has presented, like The Bacchae.

After improving or redeveloping your Midterm1 draft, transition to or unify those opening paragraphs with additional paragraphs describing your learning experience since Midterm1. In these new paragraphs, focus particularly on the Oedipal plays + Hamlet (excerpts). What have you learned that is worth learning (or teaching) about tragedy, genre, psychology, families, fate and free will, the individual and the community (or authority), Western Civilization, narrative genres, or other themes relevant to these plays?

Consistent themes throughout course:

Tragedy as the greatest genre?

Tragedy modernizes and expands appeal by incorporating other narrative genres (comedy and romance) and by managing spectacle.

The tragic flaw.

Narrative genres: tragedy, comedy, romance, satire.

Tragedy involves families who simultaneously love and hate each other as their fates are bound together. Oedipal Conflict, Electra Complex. Aristotle's Poetics 13c, 14c

Depending on your emphases, you may not need to refer to every possible topic, but the best essays unify as much material as possible.

Begin Research Report: Write at least 5-6 substantial paragraphs with four sources toward completion of your Research Report on selected special topic (to be completed on Final Exam)

for Midterm 2: Write 5-6 paragraphs introducing your topic, contextualizing it with our Tragedy course, and describing your research and what you've learned so far. You may conclude by previewing what you want to learn next for the concluding paragraphs of the report in the final exam.

(Final Exam: 8-10 paragraph report with 6 sources summarizing your research and learning on your topic and how it relates to our course.)

Research requirements: For midterm2, four research sources providing information on your topic are required. These four sources may be from our course website or from beyond. Especially consider using "essential instructional page(s)" and Model Assignments provided with your "Special Topic")

Other recommended research sources include reference books, MLA searches, and interviews with other teachers or professors.

You don't have to agree with your research sources; you can treat them as material to differ with or to provide contrary information; but you have to refer to them. Avoid writing what you could have written without taking our courseŚwriting off the top of your head and repeating familiar cliches makes for bad writing and reading. 

Choice of Special Topic: You are expected to continue the topic you proposed in Midterm1. However, you may change or combine topics as long as you explain why you originally chose your first topic and why you are switching to the new topic. (This explanation may be brief, but make it meaningful in terms of your learning.)

Assignment description: Write a complete report describing your research and learning concerning your Special Topic.

  • Student is responsible for having researched at least four sources on subject before Midterm2.

  • Organize the information you found and review how you may use it, either in your knowledge of literature, college career, teaching, or personal development.

  • The emphasis is on information, not opinion and analysis, though some summary, analysis, and evaluation is welcome and expected. It's a report foremost.

  • You are encouraged to connect your findings to course objectives or texts.

Default organization: The path of least resistance is to describe and unify your report as a "quest" or "journey of learning."

  • What did you want to learn? Why?

  • What did you find out or learn? How?

  • Where has this knowledge taken you? How has your view of your topic changed or developed?

  • What would you like to learn next? (that follows from what you have learned so far)

  • How does this knowledge apply to our course or your possible development of its topics?

Works Cited / Bibliography: Include a list of your major research sources (at least four for Midterm2, six total for Final Exam).

  • MLA style is preferred, but other standard forms are acceptable. Don't spend too much time fussing over forms when you should be emphasizing learning about your subject.

  • My test for documentation: Would I be able to track the source down using the information provided?

Evaluation standards: Readability, competence levels, and interest.

Readability & surface competence: Your reader must be able to process what you're explaining. Given the pressures of a timed writing exercise, some rough edges are acceptable, but chronic errors or elementary style can hurt.

Content quality: Fulfillment of assignment; comprehension of subject, demonstration of learning, use of course resources including instructional webpages + interest & significance: Make your reader *want* to process your report. Make the information meaningful; make it matter to our study of literature and culture. Reproduce course materials accurately but refresh with your own insights, examples, and experiences.

Thematic Unity and Organization: Unify materials along a line of thought that a reader can follow from start to finish. (Consider "path of learning": what you started with, what you encountered, where you arrived.) Consult instruction sites on Unity / Continuity / Transition & Transitions.

Grade and feedback: As with Midterm1, you will receive a grade and notes for improving each part for your final exam.