Class Consciousness

Stephen W. Potts

Paper Assignments for LTWL 116 now available

CORRECTED 04/30/2013

Midterm and final paper assignments for LTWL 116 are now available online, as a page attached to the course description (left column) or below.

UCSD's Geisel Library. It has been featured in...

UCSD’s Geisel Library. It has been featured in several science-fiction movies because of its exotic appearance, and is the basis of the school’s current logo. It is considered to be one of the finest, if not the finest, examples of Brutalist architecture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For each assignment (midterm and final), choose from the subject areas below, then formulate a specific topic to investigate (think of it as a question you are trying to answer) and a specific thesis you are attempting to prove (your potential answer to that question). Whatever your subject, you will need to take advantage of outside sources—articles, books, other critique—to support your argument, and you must append a list of these sources—roughly a handful (4-6); critical non-fiction works should outnumber fiction. Each paper is about 1500 words, approximately five pages double-spaced in 12-point font. Advice on performing your research is attached, as are the Ten Commandments for writing a good paper, entitled “Words for the Wise.”


  1. We began the course with analyses of the hero’s journey provided by classic experts like Freud, Jung, Propp, and Campbell. Show how any one of these theories has been—or can be—used on a single work of fantasy, myth, or literature. Do you find this theoretical approach useful and credible, or does it have limitations as applied to the work in question? (Examples: O’Neill’s Jungian analysis of Tolkien in The Individuated Hobbit; Campbell’s monomyth and the first Star Wars trilogy)
  2. Many adolescent novels address the issues of coming of age, rites of passage, and self-discovery from a perspective that may or may not be classifiable as a traditional hero’s journey (e.g., Judy Blume’s Are You There, God; It’s Me, Margaret; Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet). Analyze such a novel, utilizing any critical approach of your choice.


  1. Nearly all the novels assigned in this course have sequels or were part of a series by the same author. Examine a related novel. How does it compare? Does it perpetuate the story or go off in a new direction? What is its theme?
  2. The plot patterns and themes discussed in this course often turn up in stories and media not specifically aimed at the YA market: genre novels for general audiences, movies, even videogame narratives. Choose one and demonstrate. To what extent do the adolescent themes apply to general audiences? Or are all of these implicitly aimed at the very young?
  3. Choose a novel that you believe could have been assigned in this course and make the case for it. How would you present its subject matter to fit the themes of the course?

THE LONG PROJECT OPTION: Some students with suitable writing experience will be allowed to turn in one long project instead of the two short papers. This project should be 3000 words long and include approximately twice as many research sources as the shorter papers. You must discuss the topic with me first and sign the permission sheet.


In the age of the Internet, an increasing number of students have come to believe that “research” means Googling for half an hour. While there are now more excellent resources than ever online, relatively few know how to find them or evaluate their usefulness. Besides, as students at UCSD, you are paying a lot for your education, some of which goes to support a superb library/research system on campus. Get your money’s worth: take advantage of this university’s facilities and its reputation for higher learning. As UCSD students, in fact, you may even access most of the university’s library and online resources from the comfort of your own home.

Not all research materials, whether in print or in photons, are created equal. For example, Cliff Notes, SparkNotes, and their equivalent are for high school students who haven’t done the reading, not for college students supporting critical arguments. Likewise, most general encyclopedias are so secondary school. That includes Wikipedia, which is simply an online encyclopedia; it may be useful for background and ideas, but it is not a quotable resource; at best it can point you to quotable resources. Instead, begin by turning to the many excellent reference works or databases available through the library website. Fortunately, UCSD offers access to many electronic journals and other potential research materials alongside the non-virtual books and periodicals in the library building itself.

Despite the many useful online sources, books and articles in print have information that is not available online. Use research in many media; anything else will look like intellectual laziness and affect your grade.

A 1500-word paper should have at least a handful of sources in “Works Cited”—that is, 4-6 items. Furthermore, these must actually be quoted and cited in your paper.


About runawayserfer

I am a writer and editor living on the Left Coast & writing my first novel: a 1980s-era political thriller titled El Imperio.

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This entry was posted on April 25, 2013 by .
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