[Ed. note: more information about the assignments will be posted up on this site by the end of week 2, along with guidelines and suggestions for texts (for the final paper).]


  • Blogging portfolio:
    – weekly course blog entries, in the form of commentary (best 10, your own selection)
  • Midterm paper:
    – a close-reading critical commentary (4-5 pages long) on one passage from one of the texts read in class thus far this term. There will be a choice of passages.
    DUE DATE: THURSDAY 1 MARCH (week 8): either handed in to me in class, or emailed to me by the end of that day.
  • Final research paper:
    – on a topic relating to commentary and criticism
    – comprising an independent research element (primary and/or secondary sources)
    – and based on your choice of 14th-16th c. European literary material (in consultation with O’Brien): as this is a fairly short paper, you will probably be working on/with one single text. The topic and parameters have been left open to permit flexibility, to suit individual students’ interests and inclinations.
    DUE DATE: FRIDAY 13 APRIL emailed to me by the end of that day.
  • Final examination (2.5 hours):
    –  (20 min) identification of short excerpts from the course’s set readings
    –  (40 min) short commentary on one of these extracts (your choice, of those provided)
    – (1.5 hours) comparative essay based on a combination of the course readings (at least one thereof) and your final research paper
    – You MAY bring the course texts with you to the exam, including any notes/sticky notes that you’ve added: but no other materials (course notes, dictionaries, reference works, electronic devices)

Weekly advance preparation and passages for close reading will be posted on this present UBC Blogs site in advance of each class, as will be assignments. Outlines for each class will appear after the event.

Extra office hours will be scheduled in WEEK 9 for individual appointments to discuss final papers.


Blogging portfolio 10%
Midterm paper 20%
Research paper 20%
Final examination 50%




  • Grading Guidelines for Content-Based Courses (Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies, UBC)
  • Commentary/critical analysis: grading criteria (O’Brien).
    • The same principles (especially for differentiating one grade from another) will be used for other assessed work in different forms of writing: shorter commentary on the blog, the final paper, and the comparative essay on the final exam.
  • See also: model commentaries (password-protected, course participants only)
  • As this is a literature/culture course, most of your grade is for
    • content (your own idea and interpretation) and
    • structure (good choice of examples, relevance, an intelligent reading, well-reasoned, solid argument, acceptable conclusions with regard to all of the above)
    • bear in mind that this is an exercise in EXPLANATION which will be assisted by clear EXPRESSION: while they are not as important to the asessment of your work: style, syntax, grammar, and spelling will contribute to the grade, insofar as they contribute to the communication of content and structure.

3. A.O.B.

  • While some critics, theorists, etc. may make occasional passing appearances in our course: note that this course’s focus is on primary texts and YOUR close reading of them.
    There will never be a pop quiz, vocabulary test, or “who’s who” multiple-choice exercise on this sort of thing (which is a good thing, but just not our present business).
  • Please don’t cheat. It’s not good, it’s not nice, and it’s no fun for anyone.
  • Proper citation is of course permitted, and a different beast from plagiarism. Do consult University policies further on this point; if in doubt, contact your professor and discuss.
  • See even further still: NBBB optional… to see matters from the other side, for examples of what not to do, and out of sheer mischief:



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