Course Papers
Over the course of the semester, you’ll have the chance to design and create three papers -- two short (at least 1400 words) and a longer final paper (at least 2200 words).

Although I am always happy to talk through ideas with you and read drafts, I will not assign you a topic for any of these papers. Thus you'll need to create your own topic for each paper from the course readings, films, lectures and discussions. Think about what you're interested in, what you think might be important, or what surprised you. In this process, it might help to look at the questions fellow students are asking about the course materials. It is perfectly acceptable, and highly recommended, to form your paper's thesis around one of these questions.

In the past, a few students have seemed confused about why I don’t assign specific topics or questions. I want to explain my answer here: I don’t assign paper topics because I want you to be able to write about, and explore, whatever you think is most interesting. Another way to say that is that I am well aware at least half the work of having a good idea or writing a good paper is coming up with the initial question. This assignment is designed to give you space to come up with topics and questions that you think are important to ask.

Process Writing
As I will say in class, I firmly believe that the difference between bad writing and good writing is often time. Having a bit more time to think about what you’re trying to say, or to come up with new ideas, can often radically improve a paper. Almost everyone is a terrible writer at the last minute.

Therefore, one week before each short paper is due, you are required to turn in the thesis paragraph around which you plan to write the paper. This paragraph should be the argument you intend for the eventual paper, but does not require you to write the whole paper. Nor, let me be clear, is it a contract. I fully expect that the thesis you turn in will probably change as you reconsider and rewrite it in the final paper version. That’s perfectly fine. You are also welcome to reconsider and pick a completely different topic. Again, remember: the thesis paragraph is not a contract, but it is my attempt to get you to think seriously about your writing at a moment when you still have time to write.

Thesis paragraphs should be just that -- a paragraph. Short papers should be at least 1400 words. Not meeting this requirement will be an automatic deduction in grade.

Final Papers
As with the shorter papers, I will not assign you a final paper topic. I am happy to talk with you in office hours as you consider different possible topics for a final paper.

On Friday, November 16th you need to upload *four* possible final paper topics to your dropbox folder by 5pm. Please note that, contrary to the process writing for the short papers, I am not asking you for thesis statements here. I am asking you to talk through four different possible topics. I ask this of you because I think it’s valuable for you to spend some time brainstorming different possibilities. If you have a preference for a topic, you are welcome to say so in the assignment, for instance “At this point, I’m most drawn to idea #2.” Like all the other assignments, you will get this assignment back with my comments before you move to the next stage of writing.

On Friday, November 30th you need to upload a full rough draft of your final paper. The final paper should be at least 2200 words. The rough draft needs to be at least 1700 words and needs to represent a serious effort to write though your ideas. The final paper is due at 5pm on Friday, December 14th.