Dr. Johanna Rubba
English Department (Linguistics)
Cal Poly State University San Luis Obispo
Last updated  10/7/06
© 2003 Johanna Rubba

ENGL 495: The Language of Literature
Term Paper Instructions
Use this as a checklist as you work on your project

Contents of this page:       Schedule -- Paper Content -- Organization of Paper -- Proposal Instructions -- Further Requirements and Options

NOTE: It is imperative that you read the Plagiarism Warning handout before you begin work on your paper. Plagiarism, whether intentional or not, will be reported and will cause you to get an F for the course. Be sure to enclose all direct quotations in " " when you are taking notes during research for your paper.

Due date Item Details
Wed., 10/18/06 Term paper proposal 1-2 page proposal with the topic of your project (names of participants; identify material you will study; preliminary research question; analysis technique -- schema analysis, metaphor, blending). Failure to hand in a proposal, or to hand it in on time, will result in a deduction of 5 points from your paper grade.
By Thurs., 11/16
Office visit Each of you MUST visit me in my office before 11/16/05 to discuss your paper. Failure to come in for this visit will result in a deduction of 3 points from your paper grade. If you can't make my posted office hours, set up an appointment by e-mail (follow the instructions on my schedule web page).
Wed., 12/13 (Finals week) Paper due by 12 noon. Papers may be handed in before this due date. However, no extensions will be given after this date.

Proposal Instructions

The proposal is not a total commitment to the project as you describe it. Changes can be made. Major changes should happen before the quarter is too far along (by about Week 7, the week of 11/6). Minor changes can be made early or late, but should be made before 11/20. Consult with me before making ANY changes.

Paper Content

<>400-level courses like this one are often a good source of a senior project. Also, if you are planning to go to graduate school, it is helpful to have an excellent writing sample that shows your ability in your area of interest. Choose your topic with these considerations in mind. English majors may want to analyze a work of literature (novel, short story, poem, play) or a part thereof; film (especially "art" films) are also now seen by many as valid targets of literary analysis. If you have a strong interest in a genre other than literature, you can choose to analyze a different genre of text: popular films, nonfiction (including self-help), political discourse, propaganda, journalism, advertising, etc. Cross-cultural differences in schemas and metaphor make examining literature in a foreign language very interesting. Cross-cultural metaphor/blending studies are an important field of study in cognitive linguistics (see relevant chapters in Kövecses). If you know another language and some of its literature well, you could explore a work in that language and relate it to culture-specific schemas or metaphors.

If you are interested in ESL or other language teaching, or K-12 teaching in general, you can analyze published teaching materials for the extent to which they are based on schema theory or the use of metaphor or analogy to present subject-matter content. For instance, you could study reliance on schemas in foreign-language textbooks (whether ESL or another language) in presenting vocabulary and phraseology for different life situations, such as going to the bank, making small talk, etc. You might also research the application of schema theory in foreign-language reading, and assess some current teaching materials to see whether they apply the techniques schema theorists suggest. Analogy is common in native-language teaching materials such as science books, social studies, etc.

You will apply one of three mapping theories we are studying to your chosen data: schema theory, metaphorical analysis, or conceptual blending. Your project will work out best if you can find works to which one of these analysis techniques applies in large ways. A work that features a few lines based on a metaphor, or which violates schemas only here and there, won't be rich enough. The idea is not to pick a dozen unrelated bits of the work, each of which displays a particular metaphor or blend or exploits schemas, but to find a work large parts of which can be interpreted using one or another of these theories.

How do I decide on a topic and analysis technique?

Stick with genres that you already have a very strong interest in; the purpose of this paper is to help you learn a new analysis technique, not a new genre of literature or nonfiction. You should have some experience with the genre already, even if this only means generous reading (e.g., addiction to a particular theme-based blog).

The best way to sample the various analysis techniques in action is to read the model term papers from past sessions of this course that I have put on e-reserve (click here for the list). All of these papers received high grades. Some are more complex than others; a paper does not have to be of the best graduate-student quality to receive a good grade.

You can also do a little reading ahead in the theories to come: Kövecses' Chapter 4, "Metaphor in Literature", is a good introduction to how metaphor works in poetry. "Conceptual metaphor" in this chapter refers to metaphorical patterns of thought rather than language -- e.g., we think of love as an almost physical bond, but lovers aren't literally "joined at the hip" like conjoined twins. The metaphorical language is the evidence of the conceptual metaphor. To have a look at blending, go to this paper: " A Mechanism of Creativity", by Mark Turner and Gilles Fauconnier: http://markturner.org/mechanism.html.

There is an analysis of the portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost towards the end of the paper ("Satan, Sin, and Death"). You might want to read from the beginning of the paper to Euclidean Geometry, then skip down to the Milton analysis. Turner and Fauconnier use the term "mental space" and "space" in place of what we would call "schema" in most instances, for instance the "theological space" is a reference to schemas about God and the devil, sin, going to hell, etc.; the "kinship space" is the European/English schema for family relationships, such as father-child, mother-child, and values such as chastity, rape as a crime and violation of moral values, especially when a son rapes his mother. Cultural schemas familiar to Milton's world, such as the myth of Athena being born by springing from Zeus's forehead, are also brought in. Elements are taken from these different schemas and "blended" together to create the Paradise Lost story; the blend conveys the moral messages Milton intends.


I  Introduction (short -- less than 1.5 pages)

II Theoretical and Critical Background (substantive; but do not let this crowd out your analysis) III Analysis (SUBSTANTIVE; THIS IS THE CORE AND SHOULD BE THE LONGEST SECTION OF YOUR PAPER) IV  Conclusion (short)

Separate these sections from each other with subsection headings. This is required. Linguistics articles are normally divided up into clearly-marked sections. You may have subsections within these subsections, if you like.

Language-teaching papers (ESL, other language teaching, teaching writing):

Further Requirements and Options
Group work Papers may be solo or pair work. I will expect papers written by more than one person to cover more ground than papers written by just one person, and to give a more-extensive analysis. Pairs will hand in one paper, with both names on it; both students will receive the grade that the paper earns. Take responsibility for your share of the work!! I will not mediate disputes over workload; sort this out as mature adults. If you plan to work with someone else, be sure it is someone you know fairly well. This isn't the occasion to develop a new working relationship.
Page length Your paper is to be no less than 12 and no more than 15 pages long. Pairs must hand in a paper at least 20 and no more than 25 pages long. (Graduates: minimum 15, maximum 20 pages; graduate pairs, 20-25 pp.). 
Quality of 
For me, quality of writing does not mean content alone, or content and organization alone. The clarity and style of expression, the degree to which your paper conforms to formal academic grammar, punctuation, spelling, formatting details such as paragraph indentation and location of page breaks**, are part of quality of writing. Write and edit your paper carefully for good organization, clear language with good spelling, punctuation, etc. See my grading standards for more details. A usage guide with treatment of frequent problems in my students' papers can be found at my Editing Tips page. If I find errors in your paper that are discussed on this page, your grade will be lowered significantly!

** Never end a page with a subtitle or section heading, or with a single line of text in a new section. Insert a page break above the new section, even if it makes the page a little short. Be sure to account for such short pages in your page count -- don't let having too many of them make your paper shorter than the page count suggests. (Look for information on "widows" and "orphans" in writing manuals to learn more about this.) Use "Print Preview" to see how your paper paginates before printing it out.
STYLE SHEET: (A style sheet is a set of requirements for formatting that is dictated by, for example, a newspaper, journal, or publishing house. In order for your work to be considered for publication, it must conform to the style sheet. In this case, your paper must conform to my style sheet. If it does not, you will lose points; the degree of point loss will correspond to the degree to which you fail to conform to the style sheet.)
Spacing Double-spacing except for quotations that are set off from the text (indented in their own column). Single-space such quotations. Check your word processor to be sure that the document line-spacing is set at 2 lines, not 1.5 or anything else.
Number your pages at top right, bottom center or bottom right. Do not write the numbers in by hand. Be sure that the header or footer that contains your page number does not make your page margins too wide. You can set the size of the header/footer boxes in your document-formatting menu.
Font I will accept only one font, a 12-point Times (incl. Times Roman and Times New Roman).
1" or 1.25" all around. Do not right-justify the margins (the left side of the text should be straight, but the right side "ragged").
Paper sections See above about page breaks. Do not add extra line breaks before and after subsection titles. This isn't necessary in a double-spaced paper.
Citation In-text citation MUST ALWAYS be by author's name and date of publication of the work being cited; include a page number when appropriate (for exact quotations, for instance). Example: "Form prompts meaning and must be suited to its task, just as the armor of Achilles had to be made to his size and abilities" (Fauconnier and Turner 2002, 5). Do not cite by title; be sure to include all authors' names if there are multiple authors (for more than three authors, use the first author's name followed by "et al." -- note the period with "al." Example: (Turner et al. 1996, 27). DO NOT USE FOOTNOTES OR ENDNOTES FOR CITATION.
Works Cited Follow standard MLA format for listing the works which you cite in your paper in a "Works Cited" list at the end of your paper. List only works that you do cite. Up-to-date manuals will have standards for citing web pages; follow these. You must cite at least FIVE sources by other authors, not including the work(s) you are analyzing (though you must include this in your Works Cited list). No more than one third of your sources may be from the World Wide Web, except for articles in web-published scholarly journals. Check with me or a literature professor if you are unsure of the status of an online journal.
The work you are analyzing
Assume the reader of your paper has not read the piece you are analyzing. Include a copy of short works (poems, short stories, scenes from a play, short chapters from novels) with your paper. If you are analyzing a longer work, provide a single-spaced synopsis of the work in an appendix. The appendix should be the very last thing in your paper, after the Works Cited page, and does not count in your page-length requirement. It should not exceed 2 single-spaced pages. If you get this synopsis from a source (if you do not write it yourself), give a full bibliographic citation at the top of the synopsis.

Models papers on reserve:


Cutshaw, Kelly, and Tara Engels. 2000. Bruised Lilies: Women and Flowers in Song’s “Ikebana”.

Ackerman, Chris. Heart of Darkness.


Eigen, Wendy. 2001. How and Why Haruki Murakami Challenges our Perceptions of Reality in Sleep.

Thompson, Tara. 2003. Knowing God: Analysis of Schema Use by the Puritans.

Darwin, Carolyn. 2000. Analysis of Beloved.

I am working on putting two more papers on reserve: A conceptual blending paper and a paper on use of analogy in K-12 teaching materials. Unfortunately, I do not have any model papers on ESL or other language teaching. If you choose such a topic, I can give you help in office hours.