English IV & AP November 2011 “I-Search a Word” assignment (paper #3)
Assignment: Write a paper of 6 to 8 pages 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 full reference 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 Beowulf? What meanings have evolved over time?
2. A good unabridged or international dictionary—what key definitions does the dictionary give for the word?
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. Give an example of an interesting or original way in which Shakespeare uses the word.
5. A Concordance to the Bible—list the verses containing the word and copy these verses onto a page in your sources section. How do they help you understand the full significance of your word?
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 (optional--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.
· Have your word chosen and approved by me by the beginning of class 29 (November 4 & 7. (Everyone must have a different word.)
· We will spend parts of two classes in the library looking at the OED and other source material.
· Your blog for class 30 will include your previous understanding of the word along with a brief statement of why you chose the word. It may be incorporated in some fashion into your draft later.
· Class 35 (November 18 & 21), 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 22 for all sections.. Final drafts must also be submitted by that time to turnitin.com (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.
What word interests you sufficiently to spend two weeks researching and writing about its history and most important meanings? After we review this assignment during class 28, November 2 & 3, I will accept email requests for words beginning Thursday at 1:30 PM. By class 29 (November 4 & 7), everyone must have selected a word to work with.