RN 413 • HI 413
Gender in Medieval Christian Mysticism
Fall 2010

Undergraduate Research Paper Guidelines

The research paper may focus on any individual mystic, group of mystics or related topic not addressed directly in the syllabus. You must clear your topic with me before you begin! See some ideas for topics below. You must use a minimum of seven independent sources in your research, at least one of which must be a journal article. Encyclopedias of all kinds can be invaluable jumping off points, but they are essentially summaries of existing scholarship, and you need to seek out that scholarship directly (ergo, they do not count toward your seven sources). Internet sources may be used if they are scholarly in nature (for example, the Monastic Matrix database on medieval women's religious communities). See the links at the bottom of this page for some Web based resources. For help in evaluating the appropriateness of Web sources for research purposes, see the following Cornell University site: Criteria and Tools for Evaluating Web Sites.

Your paper should be ten to twelve pages, double-spaced with the usual margins (1” at top and bottom, 1.25” left and right.)  Please remember to include page numbers.  You must cite in a footnote or endnote all sources which you quote or paraphrase, as well as works to which you refer or from which you have culled information.  Please follow Chicago Style citation format (humanities style) as found in The Chicago Manual of Style or Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers and Theses.  You can probably find most of what you need to know about Chicago Style on the University of Chicago Press Web Site.

In addition to footnotes or endnotes, your paper should also contain a Select Bibliography including not only those works you used directly in the paper, but also anything else you used for background in the course of your research (including encyclopedia entries, general histories, and so forth). The bibliography page does not count as one of your ten to twelve pages of text.  Again, please follow Chicago Style.

Please note that this should be a well-edited paper.  If you find you are coming up short on length, do not try to fluff out what is already there!  Come see me, and I will undoubtedly be able to help you direct your attention to any number of issues in need of further exploration or explanation. Remember that a good research paper should develop an argument!

Spelling, grammar and writing quality count as well as content.

Please see my plagiarism policy; if you have any questions about appropriate use and citation of sources, please ask.

Deadline, extensions, and late papers

Undergraduates are to submit a first draft in the Blackboard Dropbox before the start of class on November 22. Final papers are due in the Blackboard Dropbox before the start of class on December 6. Extensions will be granted only if you consult with me by Thursday, December 2. I will need to see the work you have completed and you will need to explain why you need an extension and how that will impact the rest of your coursework.

Papers that are late without an approved extension will lose one partial letter grade for each day they are late.

Potential Topics

There are an infinite number of possible topics for your paper, and I encourage you to think broadly and creatively within the very large and fuzzy category of “Gender in Medieval Christian Mysticism.”   You may want to give more attention to an issue covered briefly on the syllabus, or you may want to pursue something entirely different. I have collected here some ideas, and if any of them interest you, you should pursue and adapt them as you please.  If nothing here seems right for you, you can identify your own project.  If you have a vague inkling of something you’d like to pursue but aren’t sure where to take it or whether it is feasible, or if you need any other kind of direction/assistance, please set up an appointment to speak with me. 

Some of the following topics obviously overlap. You may want to think of them as inspiration rather than as rigid categories:

•Artistic representations of visionary experience
•Gender in Jewish or Islamic mysticism in comparison with Christian
•Influence of Cistercian mysticism on vernacular literature (Quest for the Holy Grail, etc.)
•Communicating mystical experience: teaching, preaching, and social control
•Popular devotional practices and mystical experience
•The role of suffering in male & female mystical writing and practice
•The theme of poverty in male & female mystical writing and practice
•The theme of love in male & female mystical writing and practice
•Scripture in Latin and vernacular mystical writing
•Erotic imagery in mystical writing
•Ascetic practice and ascetic imagery in mystical writing
•Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: standards for male and female mystics
•Geographical expressions of mystical experience  (e.g., English Mysticism, Rhineland Mysticism, Italian Mysticism, etc.)
•The Politics of Mysticism (canonization processes, patron saints, the economy of saintly cults, etc.)
•Biography of an individual mystic or comparison of two mystics

Internet Resources

Guide to Web Resources on Medieval European Religion and History

Mugar Guide to Resources for Research in Religion

Mugar Guide to Electronic Resources for Research in Religion

Mugar Guide to Electronic Resources for Research in History

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