Dante’s Inferno Research Paper : Essay Fountain

HUM 3360 Research Paper Instructions

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Here are the official instructions for the research paper.  The rough draft will be due on August 13th, and the final draft will be due September 3rd.


The research paper will be similar to the short essay in that I will be asking you to discuss one of the works we read/viewed for the class and compare it to a modern-day issue.  For this paper, however, instead of just describing how a contemporary issue mirrors the work that you are discussing, I want you to go a little further; I want you to consider how the lessons or morals contained within the work can help explain, inform and illuminate a legal issue that is of consequence today. The length of this research project should be 6-9 pages.


The topic for this paper can be any of the materials we have read up through week 9. This includes the following: “The Lottery”; “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”; The Code of Hammurabi; The Book of Deuteronomy; Antigone, Dante’s Inferno; “The Trial of Susanna Martin” from Cotton Mather’s Wonders of the Invisible World; 12 Angry Men; “A Dark Brown Dog”; “The Law of Life”; “In a Grove”; or “The Lynching of Jube Benson.”


What I would like you to do is to choose one of the works above and write a paper that, like the first essay, contains two parts.  The first part will be an analysis and discussion of the work.  If it is a work of non-fiction, you can discuss what constitutes effective law and order in the society that created the document. If it is a work of fiction, you can discuss what you think was the author’s/filmmaker’s intent in creating the work. In other words, what do you think is the theme of the work? In the second portion of the paper I would like you to talk about a troubling contemporary issue that has already been confronted by the work of art you are writing about. How do the conclusions reached in the work of art inform your opinion of the issue?


For example, if you write about “The Lynching of Jube Benson,” you could talk about how Paul Laurence Dunbar exposed the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, how it can be clouded by our preconceptions and prejudices. Then you could discuss any number of real-life cases of people who have been wrongly convicted based upon faulty eyewitness testimony and how (just as Jube is exonerated in “The Lynching”) their convictions were overturned by dispassionate science (e.g. DNA). Another example: if you decide to write about “A Dark Brown Dog,” you could talk about how Stephen Crane’s theory of naturalism demonstrates that the young boy’s environment crushes any humane and loving impulses he might have had. Crane’s vision can be then used to help explain the cycle of abuse that researchers have noted in families where an abused child becomes an abuser or a violent criminal.


This paper should be between 6-9 pages in length, though longer is almost always better.  It should be written in proper MLA format with a works cited page. A few days before the paper is due, I will put up an upload link.


A couple of notes: In most cases, I have given you only a small portion of an entire work.  If you think that reading a larger portion would help you write the paper, by all means do so (For example, the complete Code of Hammurabi can be found online.) For all of the readings I gave you, I will provide the works cited information. For any other sources you use you will have to find the information yourself.


If you have any questions or concerns about this essay, please send me an email.

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