The research paper should amount to roughly 2400 words, in 12 point Times New Roman. The topic should be some literary aspect of sixteenth-century English thought, whether religious or humanistic. Your approach should combine close analysis of the primary text(s) with commentary on pertinent scholarship: four relatively recent (since1970) scholarly essays will suffice. Make your essay lucid and persuasive as possible. River’s Christian and Classical Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry is a very good guide to the main idea and figure of the period. But you must incorporate research beyond Rivers, and as a general rule all secondary sources you consult should be listed in the MLA International Tertiary Bibliography (via Libraries Gateway), because they are likely to have been peer-reviewed. Tertiary sources (e.g. SparkNores, Wikipedia and encyclopaedias) are not acceptable critical resources.
Do not resort to plagiarism as a solution to your problem, no matter how big or small; I reserve the right to use plagiarism-detection’s software in suspicious cases. The penalty for plagiarism is 0 % for the assignment.

Sample topic sentence:
Edmund Spenser intended his Faerie Queene as a contribution to sixteenth-century humanistic literature aimed at perfecting courtiers.

Note that this sentence is already fairly focused. It doesn’t state obvious points like the fact that Spenser was an important Elizabethan poet or that his Faerie Queene was a great and complex poem. This topic sentence was written to introduce a paper exploring a specific aspect of that work. Logically, the introductory paragraph should continue by explaining just how sixteenth-century literature for courtiers sought to perfect them. It might offer a brief summary (via Isabel Rivers, for example) of Renaissance Stoicism as it appears in the highly influential Book of the Courtier.

At any rate, the eventual thesis statement should flow from the narrowing of the topic sentence; should appear on the first page, usually at the end of the first paragraph; and should advance a highly focused argument. The following is one example of an extended thesis statement (which need not be limited to one sentence):

Although Spenser incurred a heavy debt to Italian humanism, he was primarily interested in aligning English courtiers and courts with Protestant Christian morality. To this end, he wrote Book I of the Faerie Queene to promote love of holiness and religious truth as the noblest goal of the Reformation courtier. The Redcrosse Knight’s relationship with Una can be read as Spenser’s Protestant improvement on the more generally philosophical, Neoplatonic love familiar from the long speech of Peter Bembo in Hoby’s translation of Castiglione’s Cortigiano.

The hypothetical 2400 ??”word essay that followed from this introduction would restrict itself to perhaps three scenes from Faerie Queene I, would analyze those passages closely (citing and quoting directly to support individual arguments made by the student), and would supplement the analysis with reference to arguments made about Book I in recently published articles. If the secondary sources you consult confirm your own point of view, all fine and well; but the author of a truly dynamic research paper will engage published scholarship deeply- agreeing with other commentators for reasons of his or her own, but perhaps even disagreeing with them.

Here are few other tips that should enhance the overall quality of a paper:
Your essay should advance a claim about a text or author that has been deeply informed by your own analyses of the primary texts as well as your reading of pertinent scholarship. Don’t write a paper that is simply 50% your own opinions and 50% the arguments of scholars.

*****TOPICS ******
1. Tyndale’s New Testament translation as a politicized text
2. Elizabeth I’s manipulation of female identities
3. Wyatt’s (or Surrey’s) experiences at court as reflected in his poems
4. Spenser’s Protestant chivalry or Protestant take on courtly literature (The sample topic I provide about is permissible , but please don’t duplicate my examples of topic and thesis statements)
5. The meaning and limits of “women’s power” in the 1550s
6. Stoicism in literary terms (in Sidney’s Defence of Poesy or Hoby’s trans. Of Castiglione or in the poems we’ve read)
7. Shakespeare’s approach to Petrarchism in Venus and Adonis

1. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Century (8 th ed.) ISBN 0
2. Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queene (Penguin, 1978) ISBN 2
3. Isabel Rivers, Classical and Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry, 2 nd,ed. ISBN 8