Hi 214: Classical Mythology
Research Paper Guidelines
For a research strategy that will take you from the
beginning of your project to the end using materials
available at Moravian, consult the Research Tutorial on
Reeves Library's home page:
Pay particular attention to the explanation of how to
identify a topic, and be sure to read the discussion of using
Library of Congress subject headings to search MOSYS.
To discover all works in Reeves classified by the
Library of Congress under "classical
mythology," go to the MOSYS menu, option 1, and type
in "classical mythology" (without the quotation
marks). That will bring up more than a dozen LOC Subject
Headings that work for the Reeves collection (including
"Mythology, Greek" and "Mythology,
Roman"). If you would like to see what is available
concerning Ovid, enter "Ovid" (no quotation
marks) at Option 1.
Reeves Library subscribes to a number of English-language
journals of Classics that occasionally publish articles on
mythological subjects. Two of these (American Journal of
Philology and Arethusa) are available on-line
through Project Muse and can be searched by computer. A
complete paper index of articles on classical subjects --
entitled, in brief, Année Philologique -- is
published annually under the auspices of UNESCO. A complete
collection is available in the Reference Section of Reeves.
Check the index to see how it is organized. The system is
part topical, part by author.
Some Characteristics of an Outstanding Research Paper:
Its thesis is clearly stated and skillfully
It is readily understandable.
Transitions are clear.
It contains ample illustrative material.
It maintains a high level of interest.
Its opening is fresh and provokes curiosity.
Points are supported by good examples.
It is technically proficient:
It demonstrates mastery of its subject,
Familiarity with the most important primary
and secondary sources
Appreciation of the historical problems that
the subject entails.
Your paper should be 8-10 pages in length,
typewritten (double spaced), in 10 or 12 pt. font. Left
margin: 1.50 inches. All other margins: 1.25 inches.
Indent the first line of a new paragraph 5 spaces.
A minimum of 7 secondary sources should be cited in
the paper and listed on a "Works Cited" page at
the end of the paper. Sources that do not count (but that
should be listed) include our textbook, general
encyclopedias, and Web pages that I have not approved in
advance. In general, only Web pages with substantial
scholarly content will be approved. Send me an e-mail
with the URLs of Web pages that you would like
Citation of sources may be done in-line unless you
include discussion. For example, if you want to cite page
93 of Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment
(assuming you have not quoted the page directly), you
would include the following: (Bettelheim 93). No need to
add the date of publication unless you are citing more
than one book by Bettelheim.
If you want to include discussion, please use a
numbered footnote for your citation.
Alphabetize your "Words Cited" page by
author's last name. For a complete list of formats,
consult The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
In general, use the following formats:
Book: Skutsch, Otto. 1985. The Annales of
Q. Ennius. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Article: Moles, John. 1993. "Livy's
Preface." Cambridge Philological Society
Chapter in a book: Powell, Anton. 1992.
"The Aeneid and the Embarrassments of
Augustus." In Roman Poetry and Propaganda
in the Age of Augustus, edited by Anton
Powell, 141-74. London: Bristol Classical Press.
Since many students may decide to work on a myth (or group of
myths) from Ovid's Metamorphoses, let me recommend a way
of approaching that topic. Adjust this approach to suit your
SUMMARY: Summarize in your own words the story that
Ovid is telling in verse. Identify briefly the setting;
the most significant persons and places in the story; and
other myths that may be alluded to. Describe what
elements, if any, Ovid has left out of the
traditional tale (the broad version of the
story commonly accepted by his time) and what, if any, he
has added to it.
ANALYSIS: Analyze the relationship of text and
context: how Ovid relates the story to the
immediate, broader, and global contexts in which he tells
it. (For example, consider how the story of Actaeon fits
into the tales of Cadmus' daughters, the history of
Thebes, and the themes of Book Three of the Metamorphoses.
Discuss the major ways and means Ovid uses to tell his
story including (a) the formal category of the text
(myth, legend, folktale, or other) (b) the literary form
of the text (plain narrative, story-within-a-story,
dialogue, prayer, or other) (c) literary devices,
techniques, or styles of Ovid as story-teller (e.g., his
subjective intrusion of himself into the story or his
objective and/or omniscient narration; use of
transitions; his use of detail; images, metaphors, or
similes). Finally, analyze hos Ovid has used the theme of
metamorphosis in his text.
INTERPRETATION: Ovid did not believe in
the stories he told in the Metamorphoses in the
sense of thinking that they actually occurred at some
time in the past. But he tells the stories in ways that
give them deeper meaning. Discuss what you consider to be
possible meanings of the text you have chosen for study.
How does the text address fundamental questions of human
life, as in these oppositions: life & death, good
& evil, human & divine, ephemeral & enduring,
love & hate, pleasure & suffering, reward &
punishment, war & peace? Does Ovid appear to have a
purpose for the text? What do you think is/are Ovid's own
attitude(s) toward the subject of the text? Does he
reveal or conceal them? What gives the text authority?
How does it become a myth: a powerful, profound,
and insightful statement, in the form of a story, on the
nature of human life?
Save all notes and drafts (both electronic and paper)
in case there are questions about your research. These
should be available through the final examination.
Preparation of this assignment is covered by the
provisions of the Moravian College policy on academic
honesty. I assume that all students are familiar with the
terms of that policy and accept responsibility for
abiding by them. (For the text of the policy, consult the
Moravian College Student Handbook, 2000-2001, pages
Plagiarism will result in a grade of zero on this
assignment. Papers in which plagiarism is suspected will
be given to the Academic Honesty Committee of the faculty
for review and, if appropriate, action.
Return to DG Glew home page