Daily Archives: May 7, 2019

All Classes: How to Write a Paper Proposal

There are two common reasons your proposal will be rejected:

  1. Someone else is already writing on the same thing
  2. Your proposal is vague

Do not write a proposal like this:

Hi professor! Is it okay if I write on Pride and Prejudice? I want to talk about Elizabeth and Darcy.

I will reject this proposal. It does not tell me any specifics– what exactly do you want to say about Elizabeth and Darcy? What are you going to show or prove in your paper? How does it differ from the other eleventeen billion paper proposals I have received about Elizabeth and Darcy?

Write a proposal like this:

I would like to write my essay on Macbeth. What I want to focus on is why Banquo’s son did not become the king at the end, even though the witches said so in their prophecy. Since Malcolm, not Fleance, became the king, I would like to write about some different theories on what happened and what Shakespeare had in mind.


Bridget’s mother in Bridget Jones’s Diary is just a selfish person and isn’t a hero in any way. For her own sake, she:

  1. cheats on her husband with Julio
  2. continually nags Bridget to marry somebody great, showing her vanity
  3. ​does not care about Bridget’s emotions being hurt

Conclusion: Bridget’s mom’s self-centered personality directly affects the conflicts in the development of the story.

British Soc & Lit 1: Final Paper Assignment

Course Paper Project for British Society & Literature I

Topics already approved

  1. The role of money in Merchant
  2. P&P: Does Austen actually think Elizabeth is a positive character?
  3. Why was P&P called First Impressions, and why are first impressions so important in the novel?
  4. Dorian: It’s aesthetic hedonism that causes Dorian to go astray.
  5. Merchant: The symbolism of money, dominance, and sex in the rings
  6. P&P: feminist aspects in the four different marriages
  7. Dorian Gray’s narcissism: Does he have “Dorian Gray Syndrome”?
  8. Wife of Bath: Eventually, the power resides in the hands of men.
  9. Dorian: Dorian should take the most responsibility for his tragedy.
  10. Dorian: Sybil is the one who gave Dorian his first direct experience of pleasure.
  11. Dorian: What does the portrait mean in the novel?
  12. Merchant: Is Jessica right to abandon her father?
  13. Merchant: Is the trial fair or impartial if Portia is faking being a judge?
  14. Dorian: A feminist analysis of how women are portrayed in the novel 
  15. P&P: The role of ‘advisors’ in the novel: Elizabeth -> Jane, Mrs. Gardiner -> Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet -> Lydia
  16. Dorian: Sibyl would have saved Dorian had they gotten married.
  17. Merchant: It’s not a happy ending, because the characters don’t show mercy to each other.
  18. Dorian: Does Dorian corrupt Sibyl?    

Write an MLA format argument paper of about 800-900 words on one or more of the course texts: Chaucer, The Merchant of Venice, Pride & Prejudice, a poem we studied, or The Picture of Dorian Gray. Try to discuss an issue or theme which explains the text(s); simply comparing two characters can be boring unless the comparison tells us something meaningful. Feel free to look at the blog questions or think about the presentations for ideas.

Due date, first draft: Thursday, May 30 in class (paper only, no e-mails)

  1. The paper must state an argument with examples and reasons, focused on the text.
  2. It’s OK if you use evidence or history from the time period of the text to help explain it, so long as your emphasis is on the text. Do not write a paper which is really about you, your best friend, or Korea.
  3. The paper must directly quote from the text to prove your arguments. If your paper has three irrelevant quotes I will assume you didn’t read the text. Use short quotes rather than padding the paper with long ones.
  4. Important!: You will first e-mail me (keneckert @ hanyang. ac. kr) a one paragraph proposal, where you will describe what you are going to discuss and what you are specifically going to prove in your paper. You should do this soon, because: a) I won’t accept a paper without an accepted proposal; and b) once a proposal is accepted, no other student can write on the same argument.
  • The most common reason proposals are rejected is that they are too short and vague. One paragraph in length.
  • Your second paper in this course will be a revision of this first paper, due on the last day of classes by e-mail (Monday, June 17).
  • We will be spending four classes discussing how to write, research, and edit academic argument papers.
  • Refer to the “Files” heading on this site for an example of MLA formatting. We’ll discuss this in class as well.
  • Grading will be on five criteria: Grammar; structure; argumentation; text support (quoting); and the proposal. Each draft is worth 15%.