Due Date

  • Wednesday, December 14 by 4:30 pm to Blackboard


Your final project in this class has two parts: (1) 7-8-page scholarly paper on Only Revolutions (~2200-2600 words), with an annotated bibliography with 5 scholarly sources; and (2) a 3-4-page position paper on literary studies today (~900-1300 words). Both parts of the assignment are due at the same time.

Details & Requirements

(1) Scholarly paper and annotated bibliography

Your task for this part of the final project is to write a close reading of Only Revolutions, or some aspect of Only Revolutions, in which you situate your own reading of the book in relation to existing scholarship on the book. As we’ve been discussing in class, close reading is a specific method of literary analysis. Doing a “close reading” means you will make an original argument about your interpretation of the text that is based in specific evidence from that text. In a close reading paper you are trying to answer the question: “so what?” So you’ve found a specific pattern in the text (as you have all done): so what? What does this pattern mean, in terms of the text as a whole? Why/how is it important to our understanding of the text as a whole? For this paper, you must also situate your own interpretation in relation to what established scholars have written about this book.

Here are the requirements:

  • 7-8 pages (around 2200-2600 words)
  • An annotated bibliography with at least 5 scholarly sources organized in relation to your reading of Only Revolutions. Note that this annotated bibliography IS NOT included in your paper’s word count (i.e., your paper should clock in at 2200-2600 words EXCLUDING your annotated bibliography).
    • Your annotated bibliography should identify, summarize, and evaluate the sources you have read.
    • For more information on how to write an annotated bibliography, you should consult this document from the Duke University Writing Studio: http://uwp.duke.edu/uploads/assets/annot_bib.pdf. The sample they provide is more or less how I expect your annotated bibliographies to look.
    • Your paper does not need to cite all of these sources directly, but it should directly cite some of them. If you end up including more than 5 scholarly sources in your paper, choose the 5 that are the most directly related to your paper for your annotated bibliography.
  • Citations and format according to some established citation style (MLA and Chicago style are generally the easiest for text).

More info:

Only Revolutions, as we’ve discussed in class, proliferates data. There are online resources to help you observe and manage this data, and I encourage you to use them as you write your paper:

I’ve also provided you with plain text files of Sam and Hailey’s narratives, Sam and Hailey’s chronology sidebars, and lists of the dates associated with each character. You should feel free to use this data however you choose in writing your paper.

(2) Position paper

We’ve spent all semester reading “weird” books, like Only Revolutions, that demand you think about how (and why) to read them. We’ve also spent the last month or so of the course talking more explicitly about methods in literary studies – or about how we, as students and scholars of literature, produce knowledge about literature, and about what such knowledge is “good for.” We’ve focused particularly on close and distant reading, and you’ve now performed a close reading (and a “machine-assisted” close reading) of Only Revolutions.

Your task for this portion of the assignment is to put all of this together and write a position paper about the value of literary studies and its methods, as you see it, today. This means you must take a side and make an argument defending your position. You may choose to focus more narrowly on a particular method or methods (like close reading, computational analysis/macroanalysis/distant reading, etc.), or on what these methods can tell us about literary texts and/or the world (and/or what they can’t tell us); or you may choose to focus more broadly on the value/importance/uselessness of literary study and its methods today. Please note that I am not interested in hearing what you think I want to hear; I am interested, rather, in what you have to say.

Here are the requirements:

  • 3-4 pages (900-1300 words)
  • You must incorporate at least 2 of the secondary sources we have read in unit 6 of this course into your position paper. This is a minimum requirement; you may certainly range beyond this to include other course texts, primary and secondary (and non-course texts), as appropriate.
  • Citations and format according to some established citation style (MLA and Chicago style are generally the easiest for text).
  • Be specific! Just as with your exams in this class, you are given a considerable amount of flexibility in deciding how to craft your position paper. As a writer, it’s up to you to decide how to frame your argument and what information to include in order to make that argument as compellingly and as effectively as possible. Your position paper should be organized strategically, and it should rely on specific passages from the texts you are writing about. Your paper should have a consistent logical, conceptual, and/or thematic frame; it should not simply consist of lists of observations and/or unsubstantiated claims.

Some questions you might consider in deciding what to write about (this list is not exhaustive, nor prescriptive):

  • How would you describe close reading as a method of literary analysis? How would you describe distant reading as a method of literary analysis? How are they alike, and how do they differ?
  • What is the value of close reading as a method of literary analysis? What does close reading allow us to see/do/know about literary texts? Why do it?
  • What is the value of distant reading as a method of literary analysis? What does distant reading allow us to see/do/know about literary texts? Why do it?
  • What new or different perspective(s) on Only Revolutions do digital methods of analysis provide (like what you did with Voyant)? What interpretations do they make possible that (exclusively human-powered) close reading might not?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of adopting what we might call a “computational perspective” on a literary text or texts?
  • Why read and study print books, particularly difficult ones, in a digital age?


The final project is worth 30% of your grade in this course. The paper and annotated bibliography will be worth 2/3 of your final project grade (66.66%), and the position paper will be worth 1/3 (33.33%) of your final project grade.

You know, I hope, what to expect from me in terms of grading by now. It’s also worth keeping in mind that this project should represent the culmination of your thinking in this course; it is your last chance to show me, and yourself, what you got. Your final project should be proof-read, polished, and sophisticated. Start early.