Max Brook’s World War Z
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FINAL PROJECT INSTRUCTIONS
Your Final Project is a capstone assignment that is intended to help you demonstrate your mastery of the skills, concepts, critical methods, and readings covered in the course. Use it to actively display what you have learned. Show off!
The project is meant to be a distillation of what you have learned. Every word counts, even though the assigned writing is in the form of short essays. The essays are informed by research you conduct.
This assignment invites intensive attention to our last text, Max Brooks’ World War Z. Brooks’ novel is an extremely rich source for our purposes:
• it exemplifies the disaster novel genre, one of our two target genres
• it captures the preoccupations and anxieties of the contemporary era,
• it alludes to signal events in recent history, is assiduously researched, and deeply informed
• it creatively intertwines elements of popular and high culture,
• it reflects both a literary and a historical imagination
• it comes at the end of the term, which allows you to draw on the entire course to critically analyze it
Your project should address the following topics in two separate essays, each at least 3 double-spaced pages:
• Essay #1: Disaster novels are clearly not just about imagined disasters. Show how WWZ and another disaster novel read this term use the disaster genre to comment on some specific aspect of contemporary culture or the implications of specific historical events. Focus your essay to avoid too broad a topic and to encourage depth of analysis and adequate specific supporting evidence.
• Essay #2: Disaster novels and domestic novels sometimes address overlapping themes, though on different stages. Show how WWZ and one of our domestic novels explore a shared theme. (You can consider the first 4 texts as domestic novels, even though Year of Wonders is both.)
For both topics, draw on outside sources to deepen your analysis—at least one source per essay. These should be scholarly articles (in any relevant field) or sources that scholars would respect (not general audience sources, or sources by non-experts; certainly not encyclopedias, dictionaries, Wikipedia, or other unscholarly sources). Cite each source in correct MLA style. In addition, attach copies of the actual source materials (assuming they are as short as articles or chapters), or relevant excerpts from longer works. Do not merely submit copies of the abstract, links, or other abbreviated versions of your source (except in the case of excerpts from books too long to copy). I want to be able to see and read your actual source materials along with your essays. I also want evidence that you actually accessed the full source, not just the abstract, and that you used the source material properly and strategically. You are welcome to use sources identified in the Focused Research Project assignment, even those found by your classmates, as long as they are relevant. Because WWZ is so recent, you probably won’t find much literary criticism on the novel, but you can use other kinds of legitimate sources—biographical, historical, psychological, theoretical, etc.—as long as they support your approach. I strongly encourage you to find sources that illuminate WWZ in an informed way.
Your project should be considered formal academic writing, carefully proofread and edited, with no lapses in grammar, mechanics, sentence structure, etc. left in your final version. Each response should be in the form of an argument, starting with a strong and clear thesis which is supported with appropriate textual evidence and outside research. Underline your thesis. Make it highly focused and sharply defined. Because these essays are short and compressed, don’t waste time on fillers, long introductions, repetition, or information irrelevant to your thesis. Make every word and paragraph count. These are highly focused, highly authoritative and informed pieces of critical writing, with strong argumentative transitions.
Students do well on this kind of assignment at the end of the course. You have a lot of practice and critical insight to draw on. You have earned your critical authority. I look forward to seeing your thoughts!
• Do the required research (at least one source per essay for undergraduates, 2 per essay for graduate students)
• Compose your essays as assigned and cite your sources in correct MLA format
• Underline your thesis
• Use the project to demonstrate what you have learned about research, genre, content, critical methodology and analysis
• Proofread, revise, and edit carefully
• Include copies of your source materials
• Meet the deadline
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