Thursday, November 4, 2010

I-Search a Word--paper assignment #3

Assignment: Write a paper of 5 to 8 pages (5 to 6 for English IV, 7 or 8 for AP) containing an extended definition of a single word, a commonly used word, but one with an abstract or intangible quality to its meaning. In your paper you will make references to the sources you have consulted, but the style of the paper will be a first-person account of your search for the word’s ultimate meaning and an analysis of what you learn along the way.

Sources: Consult the following sources to include all the necessary information in your paper:

1. The Oxford English Dictionary in our library—what are the earliest uses and contexts for your word recorded in the English language. Does the OED mention the word occurring in either Sir Gawain or Chaucer?

2. A good unabridged or international dictionary—what key definitions does the dictionary give for the word? What is its etymology?

3. A print or online thesaurus—what are the most important synonyms for your word? Include a list from the thesaurus in the sources section of your folder.

4. A Concordance to Shakespeare—in which plays does the word occur? Copy the speeches containing the word and the plays in which they are found.

5. A Concordance to the Bible—list the verses containing the word and copy these verses onto a page in your sources section.

6. A statement of what the word means to you, both before and after you conduct your research.

7. For AP students, two of the following: a poem in which the word occurs, a citation from an online quotations list, a work of art or music, a book about words and language, a work of history, a newspaper article, cartoon, television show, or movie. (One such source is optional for English IV.)

Process: Gather your findings in a binder. The first thing in the binder you submit will be the final copy of your paper, then your draft, edited by two peers and one other person (a third peer, a parent, a friend), and a section containing the printouts of all your research materials with sources clearly indicated in full MLA format.

Rationale: According to Edward Jenkinson and Donald Seybold, “it is extremely difficult for anyone to define a word that does not have objective [meaning]. Yet the ideas, feelings, and emotions that are most significant in our lives are conveyed [by such words]. . . .Everyone who uses such words as freedom, rich, or love has slightly different notions about what those words mean, [yet] we frequently act as if we are talking about the same thing when we use such words.” Thus, this assignment is to sift through our assumptions about one abstract word to find relevant historical information about its uses and meanings throughout the history of the English language.


·H Have your word chosen and approved by me by the beginning of class Tuesday, November 9. (Everyone must have a different word.)

· We will spend that day (Wednesday for section 4) in the library looking at the OED and other source material.

Your blog for Monday November 15 will include your previous understanding of the word along with a brief summary of what you have learned so far in your research. It may be incorporated in some fashion into your draft later.

· We will return to the library after our vocab quiz Friday November 19.

Monday, November 22, bring your drafts to class, five pages minimum to earn credit for this part of the assignment.

Binders are due in my classroom by 3PM, Tuesday, November 23. Final drafts must also be submitted by that time to (assignment title: I-Search a Word).

Style: Write your paper as a first-person account of your search for the ultimate meaning of your word. Use your sources to make your analysis of the word credible, but connect those sources to your personal quest for the word’s meaning, your previous understanding of the word, and what you learned along the way, both about the word and the research process. You should both summarize and analyze the information you gather from your sources in the body of the paper. Information should be cited parenthetically, linked to a list of Works Cited at the end of your paper.

Words: So far I’ve brainstormed 40-some words, but I need your help coming up with further ideas, so that everyone works with a different word for this assignment. Here is my list:

·A Atonement Beauty Belief Chaos Confusion Courage Darkness Despair Doom Doubt Ecstasy Envy Fear Freedom Friend Glutton Grace Greatness Happiness Hatred Heart Holy Honor Imagination Jealousy Journey Joy Kindness Knowledge Love Loyalty Mercy Natural Passion Quest Redemption Revenge Riches Shame Spirit Success Wealth Wisdom Wit

What word interests you sufficiently to spend two weeks researching and writing about its history and most important meanings? After I review this assignment in class Friday, November 5, I will accept email requests for words beginning Sunday morning at 9 AM. By class time Tuesday November 9 everyone must have selected a word to work with.