Your final paper, as you know, is a research paper on any aspect of the Cinderella tradition that interests you. You have a big pool to swim in, and you may find that it’s hard to touch bottom—or, to narrow down your topic. If so, here are a couple of ways you can approach the topic.
- Imagine a conversation among several of the critics we’ve read (you can choose, but you might want to get Marina Warner and Karen Rowe in a room together, for example, or Bruno Bettelheim and Jack Zipes). What is/are the key element(s) of Cinderella for your chosen critics? Once you’ve identified the elements you want to talk about (class rise, maternal abuse, child development, beauty, etc.), then have your critics consider a new version* of the tale in relation to your topic. You should be aware both of the history of how others have seen this topic (i.e., the critics) and develop your own analysis of the particular text you’ve chosen. You may choose to write this paper creatively, as a dialogue, but make sure you cite the sources for the claims you put in each critics’ mouth. You may also choose to write it as a standard expository essay, making clear which critics and versions are your central focus.
- Imagine that you are helping the UR Theatre Department choose a version of Cinderella to perform on stage. You need to convince them that your version (one you’ve seen or read, or one you imagine)** is appropriate for an intellectually curious and thoughtful audience—that is, your version should of course entertain, but it should also make people think. This means you’ll need to provide a précis of your chosen version and how it differs from or conforms to our general assumptions about Cinderella. After that, your report should argue for both the innovation and tradition your version represents, demonstrating a familiarity with prior research on Cinderella and earlier versions of the story.
- You may also develop a topic of your own choosing, as outlined here (scroll down to Paper #3).
* Your “new” version may be any version you’ve discovered, either on the blog or on your own, that we have not analyzed in class. You may also, as with option #2, propose your own version–in this case, while you need not write the full version you’re proposing, you do need to make it clear that it is your version and also make clear what distinguishes it from any other version your audience already knows.
** You may propose a theatrical version of any Cinderella story you’re aware of, whether or not it is actually a play. You may also propose a version that doesn’t yet exist—as above, in this case, while you need not write the full version you’re proposing, you do need to make it clear that it is your version and also make clear what distinguishes it from any other version your audience already knows.
For more on research papers in English, see the Writer’s Web page.