Reading Closely–and Historically.
Texts: ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore or Book 1 of Paradise Lost
This assignment is in every respect the same as the last. Except for one, big thing: here I ask you to go further, and do some primary historical work to ground your explication in the text’s historical context. Take a word or a phrase that raises your curiosity in the text, and plug it into the search engine, EEBO-TCP. This is the free version of Early English Books Online, Text Creation Partnership, otherwise known as FREEBO (our university doesn’t have access to the full content, so we’re using the free version, which doesn’t have quite as many texts as the $$$ version, but for our purposes, it doesn’t matter). Early modern scholars are very luck these days, in that virtually every book published in English has been scanned and put on this database, and later transcribed into searchable, HTML text. Databases such as this have changed the face of scholarship–and even better, have made the archives of scholarly research available for classroom use in a way that is unprecedented for students who don’t attend the Oxbridges of the world.
Once you’ve plugged your word or phrase into the text…congratulations, you’re now doing primary research! Now, your whole essay does not need to revolve around what you find out about this word or phrase, and how it helps you read your chosen textual passage better (although it can). I simply want you to look at how the word or phrase is used in at least one other early modern book, and apply your newfound knowledge at least once in your essay; hopefully, you will look through a number of texts, and find one that is particularly revealing or interesting with regard to your word or phrase. Note: you don’t need to read the whole book–just read enough of it to be ascertain how the text is using your word or phrase, and how it might illuminate the literature you are discussing. Who knows? Maybe you’ll make a fascinating new discovery!
Hint: use the “proximity” search feature to search for phrases. With the proximity feature, you can search for texts in which, say, the words “love” and “law” appear near one another.
Hint II: look at the dates of the texts that come up in your search field. Try to pick a text published not too far from the time of the original publication of ‘Tis Pity or Paradise Lost (around 20 years before or 10 years after).
Due date: April 6. All other requirements are the same: 12 pt font, Times New Roman, 1″ margins, theses, topic sentences, coherent paragraphs, clear and graceful prose, properly italicized titles, proper citation format, 1000-1200 words.