The grade will be based on the evaluation of a written paper (as regards my part of the program, block A) and on the result of an oral exam (as regards Prof. Sarnelli’s part of the program, block B). The final grade will be the average of the two grades.

You are requied to submit the paper AT LEAST 10 days before the date you are supposed to take the oral exam with prof. Sarnelli. You must find her “appelli” on Infostud and book one of them (the dates should be June 14, June 30, and July 12). This means that if you register for the June 14 appello, you MUST send me the paper NO LATER THAN June 4. And so on. There will be no exceptions to this rule, so please do not write me asking for more time. As you probably guess, it is already difficult to handle all this without going crazy. If you don’t send me the paper in time you will have to reschedule your exam with prof. Sarnelli, because YOU CAN’T TAKE THE ORAL EXAM WITHOUT HAVING ALREADY RECEIVED A MARK FOR THE PAPER.

The paper (written in English if you are an EAAS student, otherwise it is up to you to choose to write either in English or Italian) must be between 15.000 and 20.000 characters, spaces included, bibliography excluded). The paper MUST have this length—nothing longer nor shorter will be accepted (use the word counting tool in Microsoft Word). The paper MUST be written using Microsoft Word. If you are a Sapienza student (and I suppose you are) you can download it for free through Sapienza’s webpage (just google “Sapienza Microsoft Word”). I know Word is probably not the best word processor, but I may have to read your papers while not at home, so please bear with it.

In your paper you will analyze one (or two) novels among those we have read: Pynchon’s "The Crying of Lot 49", Vonnegut’s "Breakfast of Champions", and DeLillo’s "Libra". Each paper must have a clearly stated thesis, because the purpose of a paper is to put forward a thesis, stemming from a hypothesis that you are going to verify/discuss/analyze using quotations from the text and the support of critical readings. So, the first (and most difficult) passage for you is to find a VERY SPECIFIC topic and then see how this VERY SPECIFIC topic works throughout the novel (or in the two novels). It may be the evolution of a character, a theme, an analysis of a particular scene, even a recurring word, a recurring pattern, a situation, etc.

In your paper you must refer to scholarly studies (besides those we read in class you have a “further readings” folder, and you are free to look for other essays on databases such as Project Muse, JSTOR, etc.), but a truly successful paper will be the one that manages to go beyond what has already been said about the texts you analyze. You must find YOUR OWN WAY through the maze of the text, you should be able to NOTICE something that others haven’t noticed yet, or – this is the most common situation – you have to connect the pieces (the details, the discourses, the characters, the situations, the styles, the themes) in A DIFFERENT, ORIGINAL way. You know that postmodernist novels have a huge number of clues, details, data, information, characters, topics, that are sometime amassed disorderly in the text. You must become a detective and follow SOME of the clues, and then you must find an interpretation, however partial and incomplete, of them. It is better to send me an email with a short abstract (one paragraph) stating what your thesis is and how you intend to analyze/demonstrate/discuss it before starting your paper, so I’ll tell you whether it is a feasible thesis and I’ll give you some advice.

Your paper must have a clearly stated thesis, it must be written as a series of well-organized paragraphs, and must be carefully copyedited before you hand it in. I will not look at messy papers, or papers that are not structurally sound. Since you are MA students, I also expect that your notes and bibliography will be accurate. Each paragraph will need to have a topic sentence – a sentence which summarizes the main point of the paragraph. You MUST become familiar with this website: OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab and follow the MLA stylesheet for formatting your paper. You will find guidelines and you are supposed to read them with great attention: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_general_format.html. On the left part of the page, you have all the guidelines for the in-text citations and the “Works Cited” page at the end. Please follow them VERY CAREFULLY, because I will evaluate this aspect of your paper. Should you need further directions, you can download Prof. Mariani’s instructions on “how to write a short paper” (from which I took some of these suggestions): https://www.lettere.uniroma1.it/view-m-didattici_all/481

Your essay should NOT be a summary of the novel’s plot (you’ll fail the exam if you do only that, because you are supposed to have studied the text, and anyway we can read their plots on Wikipedia!), nor a review in which you naively register your personal impressions, nor simply a review of other people’s research. You should always ask yourself: “What am I trying to demonstrate?” “Is this information I am writing relevant to the demonstration of my thesis? If so, how? If not, then why write it at all?”.

My mark will be based on the quality of your research (originality of the thesis, specificity and relevance of the topic, 10 pts), on the quality of your English (or Italian) (10 pts), and on the organization of the paper (structure, footnotes, formatting, paragraphs, bibliography, 10 pts.). Should I remind you this is an "advanced" "in-depth" course?

PLEASE NOTICE: should I find any plagiarism in your paper (I have a software that I’m paying for with my own money and that works really well) you will fail the exam and you will have to submit another paper the following session. There will be no exceptions even in the case of crying (of lot 49!).

PLEASE NOTICE ALSO: If you need to register only 6 CFU all of the above still applies but since you are not supposed to take the exam with Prof. Sarnelli, you must also take an oral exam with me.

Data inizio: 
Sabato, 27 Marzo, 2021
Data fine: 
Sabato, 31 Dicembre, 2022

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