Research Paper – 5-7 pages, double spaced List of Topics attached
Possible research topics*
- Delayed gratification: God’s promise to Abraham and to Jacob.
- Sibling rivalries: Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his brothers; Isaac and Ishmael.
- The mission: Joseph has a mission; Odysseus has a mission; Telemachus has a mission. Research the quest narrative in literary theory and apply your findings to one of these stories. Joseph Campbell’s monomyth is a good source.
- The Bhagavad Gita says that desire is dangerous. Is that the case in any of the stories we have read? Or maybe desire is good. Think of Helen and the desire men had for her.
- Coming of age stories: Jacob and Joseph and Telemachus.
- What makes a hero? Odysseus and Gilgamesh meet traditional standards, but are there other standards of hero? How do you see Abraham, Jacob/Israel, and Joseph?
- What kind of world view does polytheism foster? How is it different from monotheism?
- Investigating gender is an option in any of the texts we have read.
- Investigate the psychological and psychoanalytic theories and apply them to characters.
- Aesop’s fables are famous stories from ancient Greek culture. What is it about the culture that generates both major epics and brief fables? If epics reflect the attitudes and values of the most “important” people, what the function of fables?
- Mythological criticism emphasizes “the recurrent universal patterns underlying most literary works.” Investigate these patterns and apply them to one of our reading assignments.
- Clothes are important both symbolically and as revelatory of character, particularly in “The Story of Joseph.” Examine all of the passages that mention clothes and try to find a pattern. What do they reveal about character? Read a few articles using keywords such as Joseph, Genesis, coat, clothes to find the articles.
- Several characters have their names changed in biblical literature. Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah, Jacob becomes Israel, Simon becomes Peter, and Saul becomes Paul in the New Testament. What is the reason for these name changes? Do these names have meanings?
- Confucius, among others, believed The Classic of Poetry to be a major source of wisdom in his culture. What makes this collection of poems so important?
- Read the Koran’s story of Joseph. Write a comparison paper. What does the Koran’s story emphasize? What does the Bible’s story emphasize?
- Dreams and their interpretations are important in ancient cultures. Joseph, Jacob, Agamemnon, Gilgamesh, Chanticleer and others dream. What is the purpose of the dreams? What would modern psychology say about these dreams?
- Read about Chanticleer in “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It is obviously a satire because chickens don’t talk. What is the point of the satire?
*These are a few suggestions. There are thousands of other topics that you may write about.
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