English 366E - Assignment #2--Internet Exploration and Research Essay

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Table of Contents: Course Two
Table of Contents: Assignments


Due date:
Friday 27 February.
1600-1800 words, or the equivalent.

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Why an Interent Assignment in a Shakespeare Course?

Increasingly, the Internet and the world of electronic texts are becoming an important research tool for scholars and students in all fields. This assignment will both give you an introduction to the kinds of resources that are becoming available, and provide an opportunity for you to join your voice to those learning to use this versatile new medium for publication if you so choose.

The Research Essay.

Your final written assignment for the course will be a research paper on the Renaissance background, using the Internet site Shakespeare's Life and Times http://web.uvic.ca/shakespeare/Library/SLT/ as a starting point for exploration of your topic.

The topic you choose should demonstrate how the context you research illuminates a particular passage, character, scene, or issue in one of the plays you are studying. Remember that this is a research essay at a senior level; you must include at least one primary Renaissance source in your discussion. You will also be expected to include a list of Works Cited and, if necessary, a Bibliography. Be sure to follow the conventions of citation in the text of your essay as outlined in the Writer's Guide.

  Note: You must get approval for the topic from the Instructor no later than Friday February 14 (you can negotiate by email). Topics not approved will not be accepted.

Using the Internet Site Shakespeare's Life and Times

Shakespeare's Life and Times is designed to allow you to explore the Renaissance context by viewing material on Shakespeare's life, the stage he wrote for, and the social, intellectual, political, literary, and artistic background to the plays. You should spend at least half an hour simply exploring the range of subjects available in the site before choosing what you want to write about (I recommend this even if you have a strong interest in a particular area already). There are a number of ways in which you can begin your exploration: As you explore, you will realize that there are three kinds of links embedded in the text of the site:
  1. Links marked with an asterisk provide further information on the same topic and remain on the same "page."
  2. Normal links without the asterisk will take you to a different section of the site where the subject indicated is dealt with more fully.
  3. Links coloured green will take you to related sites on the Internet, external to Shakespeare's Life and Times.
The result is that you can explore widely, and perhaps find an area that you had not thought about researching as you browse. Once you have found a topic that particularly interests you, you can click on the icon of the book; you will be taken to a bibliography that gives you information on conventional research material in the Library where you can continue your study. You can print out the bibliography. There is an on-line "help" section of the site. Just click on the icon of a question mark.

About Shakespeare's Life and Times and Internet Resources

Although there are many references to Shakespeare's plays on the site, there is no extensive discussion of the texts themselves. It is not intended to be a critical discussion of Shakespeare; it is an introduction to what we know of his life, the stage where his plays were first acted, and the various influences--social, political, intellectual, and literary--that lie behind the words on the page.The power of hypertext--the linking of ideas in a network of connections instead of a single line--allows you to choose the level of complexity you wish to work at. The objective of the program is to provide a means by which you can freely explore the context of Shakespeare's plays, using lateral links to move from topic to topic until you find a subject you wish to pursue further. At this point you can click on the icon of the book, which will take you to the relevant section of the Bibliography, and continue in the library.

You will also find many links to sites external to the Life and Times--increasingly the Internet is providing excellent material on Renaissance topics, though it is important to be critically aware of the quality of the various sites, since they are far more uneven than the print materials you will find in the Library. You will also find the list of relevant sites maintained on the site of the Internet Shakespeare Editions useful.

In your Bibliography or list of Works Cited, you should include both print and Internet resources.

Organizing Your Essay

A senior level research essay should demonstrate a high quality of writing, especially in the organization of your thoughts. You would be well advised to consult the Department's Writer's Guide for advice on matters of detail (sentence structure, paragraphing) and overall organization. Be sure to follow the conventions of citation and recording your entries in the Bibliography and Works cited. One common error in this kind of essay is to create what in effect are two mini-essays, one on the Renaissance context and one on the play; you should make sure that you integrate both components of the essay effectively.

What I Will Look for in This Assignment

I will be looking for
  Note: Be sure to follow the conventions of citation in the text of your essay as outlined in the Writer's Guide.
You will be graded on these specific points, and (as in all English courses) on your general command of written English. Marks will be deducted for major or continuing problems in expression.


The percentages here are intended to give you a clear sense of the emphasis we will put on the various components of your work. We will not actually break the mark down mechanically by each category, but will consider the assignment as a whole, with these categories in mind.
Component   Weight
  • Quality and extent of research
  • Use of primary sources
  • Context and text
  • Accuracy of conventions

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This page last updated on 1 December 2003.

Send queries to Michael Best, English Department, University of Victoria, Victoria B.C. V8W 3W1, Canada.