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Discuss interconnectedness between gender and genre in a selection of plays from all stages of Shakespeare’s development as a dramatist.

Course Road Map

1.5.3 Term Essay (30%)

The paper is not to be any more than 6-8 pages in length and must be handed in through the dropbox online to be checked through TurnItIn.

1500-2000 words. The topic is at your discretion, the thesis is at your discretion. I highly recommend you run your ideas past me first. The paper must be presented in accordance to MLA guidelines. The due date for the essay is the final day of classes, with papers to be returned to students who wish to recover them during the exam period, no less than two weeks after the last day of classes. Those who wish their papers returned to them must indicate so on their papers and make arrangements with me to get the paper back to them prior to handing in their paper. Papers are to be handed in via the course website dropbox. Please see the course website for a general rubric.

The topic is at your discretion, the thesis is at your discretion. As a general guideline, at the very latest by the mid point of the course, you should have a research question that you want to ask, such that you can research that question throughout the course. (Seriously, it is amazing how many students try to do a research paper without first considering a research question that they want to answer. Think of a question by the mid point of the course at the latest to be ahead of the game.) If you have troubles formulating a research question, please see either me or talk to the research librarian for the course. I highly recommend that you speak to me at least once before the end of the semester about your field of research.

Sample Rubric:




Voice, Tone, Style

Argumentation, Organization, Structure

Understanding of the Text/Course Material


F Range

The paper demonstrates no comprehension of the mechanics required by academic English. Numerous minor errors and some major errors appear throughout the paper. Sentence construction and mechanics are well below that expected at a university.

No thesis exists.

The paper demonstrates little variety of sentence structure, as well as an inappropriate tone for an academic literature paper (e.g. colloquial). The paper also demonstrates no apparent understanding of the relationship between audience and author/the purpose of the short essay genre/analysis.

The paper demonstrates organization and structure that must be inferred by the reader as the author has taken no care to build an argument. Major logical flaws throughout seriously hamper meaning.

The paper demonstrates total misunderstanding of the text in terms of genre, tone, character, plot. Further, the paper demonstrates total misunderstanding of the terms of analysis brought up in class (e.g. New Historicism, protagonist, comedy).

No research has been done.

D Range

The paper demonstrates repeated major errors in mechanics that detract from the paper’s meaning. This could be solved by running the paper through a spell-checker with some attention to detail

No thesis exists.

The paper demonstrates some variety of sentence structure. Major digressions and/or an ineffective introduction and conclusion are often present. Inappropriate tone in places mars the paper. Consistent examples of generic errors (e.g. first person narrative rather than literary analysis) are present.

Paragraphs are disjointed and lack logical connections. Often paragraphs are digressions rather than supporting the thesis.

Major misunderstandings of the text or misapplication of the concepts introduced in the lectures, yet these are ameliorated by a few examples where the text or concepts are used correctly.

The paper shows a bare understanding of what it means to conduct research. Most of the material seems to have been gleaned from Google, Yahoo, or other publicly available sites.

C Range

Significant issues that minimally obscure meaning and sense. Could have been fixed with one more read through before handing in.Sentence construction and mechanics are what is expected at a university level.

A thesis appears to exist, yet the topic is not effectively limited. (eg. The thesis is: “sexuality in this play is important.” or “the playwright uses language in his plays.”)

Voice and tone generically appropriate, yet there is no sense of individual style.

The paper demonstrates a basic understanding of the genre of the short essay/analysis.

Paragraphs connect logically in terms of structure, yet often the paper follows the structure of the argument without attention to the argument the student is trying to convey (e.g. The Five Paragraph or “Hamburger” paper).

This paper demonstrates some misunderstandings of the text or misapplication of the concepts, which are largely balanced by correct application of the concepts or understanding of the text.

The paper shows familiarity with the university library system and the databases it holds, though tends to focus on generalist resources like encyclopedias.

B Range

There may be minor errors of mechanics in the paper, yet they do not detract from the paper’s argument. Language is clear and precise.

There is a thesis that takes a topic provable within the short length of the paper.

The paper demonstrates voice and tone consistent and appropriate to the purposes of the short essay/analysis. A variety of sentence structures support the argument.

Major points in the paper are divided into paragraphs and signaled by transitions. Often, the student has done extra research to support the argument. The argument is clear and persuasive.

The paper demonstrates understanding of the text and the concepts developed in class. The student then reapplies those concepts in a straightforward manner that does not deviate from class notes.

The paper uses a variety of sources both generalist and specialist. There is a good understanding of what constitutes a scholarly source. Both online and non-online sources are used.

A Range

Nothing that a decent editor can’t fix. Not necessarily flawless, but a great deal of attention has clearly been paid to the mechanics of expression in the document.

There is a thesis that takes a topic provable within the short length of the paper.

Accomplished and variegated style where the student’s unique yet genre-appropriate voice can be detected

Extra research supports the argument. The paper is coherent, concise, and logically argued. The paper demonstrates genuine insight into the topic at hand.

Mastery of the text and the concepts developed in class are evident throughout. The student reapplies and analyzes concepts and/or textual elements in a manner that stretches beyond the class lectures.

An exceptional variety and breadth of research has been done, showing mastery over the available material on the subject.

This course will study the interconnectedness between gender and genre in a selection of plays from all stages of Shakespeare’s development as a dramatist. Though it may be hard for us today to believe, Shakespeare during the 1590s was primarily known as a playwright of comedies and not of tragedies. His eventual shift away from the bawdy comedy of Two Gentlemen of Verona and Comedy of Errors and towards a more romantic, sensitive, and heightened vision of the world in Cymbeline and The Tempest will be explored throughout this course.

(EN 233 is a half course credit that is not a required course for the English degree. The exclusions are EN232 and EN351.)

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