Summary of the Written Assignments
You will do two written projects for this class: one relatively standard literary-critical / close-reading paper (5–6 pages in length), on one or more of the romances of Chrétien de Troyes from the beginning of the class, and one substantial project on Malory's massive Morte Darthur, on which we will spend fully half the semester. During our first three weeks of reading Malory, you will create a proposal for a substantial project that you think would be appropriate to the unique nature of the text and to your own interests.
Written Assignment 1
See prof's Bahr's compendium of essay writing tips (PDF) for information about this close-reading paper.
Final Project Assignment
There are lots and lots of possibilities for this project: tracing a character or cluster of characters across the Morte's nearly thousand-page span; comparing Caxton's printed edition of 1485, which we will be reading, with the sole surviving manuscript copy, which was unearthed only in 1934 (!!); using your geeky skill set to propose a way of mapping or visualizing the text's extraordinarily complex structures; or (and this is a fine option) writing a more traditional research paper, focusing either on Malory alone or on his manipulation of earlier texts that we've read together.
Whatever your decision, we will celebrate your work and the end of the semester alike with a final poster session at which you will present and take questions on your work. I will work the room, all of us will invite guests (faculty and student alike), and the event should be a great opportunity to show the room that literary study thrives at MIT—doing so in a form, moreover, that scientists and engineers will understand.
Sample Student Final Projects
Two of the students in the class have provided their final projects for publication on OCW and they are presented here with their permission.