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It is a comparative paper: the Golden Girls compared with Living Single. HOW TO

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It is a comparative paper: the Golden Girls compared with Living Single.
HOW TO WRITE A COMPARATIVE PAPER
A weak comparative paper relies on notions of similarity or difference, or simply juxtaposing two
topics, as though you have smooshed two essays together. A strong comparative paper requires
careful attention to the point of the comparison, and implicitly or explicitly answers the question of
why we are bothering to compare these two things, rather than analyzing them separately.
There are only two methods for writing a comparative paper. These two methods, with some
tweaks, work for absolutely any type of comparison, in any discipline, ever. There is no other way to
do it well. Trust me.
The Minor Text/Major Text Method. If you choose this method, you will derive a theory from
your “minor text” and apply it to your “major text” to reveal something about the “major text.” This
is the same structure you would use if you were using a theory (like Marxism, or gender theory, or
critical race theory) to analyze a text. Only, here, your “theory” is drawn from a work of literature.
1. Pick a text that has an interesting theory. For example, what heroism means in The Song of Roland.
That is your “minor text,” because you’re only use a little bit of it—you are taking the idea of
heroism from Roland and applying that idea to another text.
2. Apply that theory to another text. For example, you might apply that theory to El Cid. That would
be your “major text,” because the goal of your paper is to explain El Cid (in light of heroism in
Roland).
3. Craft your thesis statement: By examining [major text] in light of [minor text], we can see
that [major text] is arguing…
By examining El Cid in light of the theory of heroism articulated in The Song of Rolan, we can see
that El Cid is arguing…
4. Outline your paper:
 Introduction Paragraph: 1-2 sentences of context, and the thesis statement. This paragraph
should not be very long, but the thesis statement should make clear where your essay will
end up. Do not let your conclusion be a surprise to the reader.
 1
st Body Paragraph: explain the theory of heroism in Roland, making sure to use evidence
from the text, and analyzing that evidence. Explain how a book like Roland can have a theory
of heroism.
 2
nd Body Paragraph through ??th Body Paragraph: Introduce the relevant scenes from El Cid
and explain how it raises a question that needs to be answered. Analyze the relevant scene
from El Cid in light of the Roland theory of heroism. Keep referring back to your heroismtheory from Roland: that is the lens through which you are viewing El Cid.
 Conclusion Paragraph: Sum up what you have said, and include a gesture to a larger idea. It’s
okay to have a rhetorical question in a conclusion paragraph, or to float a wacky theory.
You’ve earned it.
5. Write your paper, and revise your paper, paying particular attention to grammar, spelling, sentence
structure, typos, contractions (there shouldn’t be any), informal language, and other infelicities.
HOW TO WRITE A COMPARATIVE PAPER
The Continuum Method. If you choose this method, you will argue that one text (with a later
date) is transforming the ideas in another, earlier text. That is, you’re supposing the author of a later
text has read the earlier work, and is responding to the ideas in the earlier work with their own twist.
1. Pick one text, and then pick another text with a similar something—maybe they both make gender
an issue, maybe they both talk about cats, maybe they both emphasize maturation, etc. Figure out
which one came first historically. (Roland is older than El Cid.)
2. Figure out how the later story transforms the idea in the earlier story. For instance, how does El
Cid transform the ideas of heroism as articulated in Roland into something else?
3. Craft your thesis statement:
By comparing [first text] with [second text], we can see that [first text] transforms [the thing
you’re talking about, like heroism] from [something] to [something else].
By comparing Roland with El Cid, we can see that Roland extends El Cid’’s definition of
heroism as [whatever] to include [whatever El Cid adds]/
4. Outline your paper:
 Introduction Paragraph: 1-2 sentences of context, and the thesis statement.
 1
st Section: Explain the basis of your comparison. Here, that might mean talking about the
way these texts seem to be in conversation with one another and addressing similar topics.
 2
nd Section: Explain what the first (oldest) text is doing.
 3
rd Section: Explain what the second (later) text is doing. You might want to start this section
off with a transition sentence that sounds something like this: “El Cid transforms this
perspective on heroism from ______ to ________.” And then you would focus on what El
Cid is saying about heroism, and how that marks a transformation of the ideas in the earlier
text.
 (Anyone of the “sections” could be many paragraphs.)
 Conclusion Paragraph: Sum up what you have said, and include a gesture to a larger idea. It’s
okay to have a rhetorical question in a conclusion paragraph, or to float a wacky theory.
You’ve earned it.
5. Write your paper and revise your paper, paying particular attention to grammar, spelling, sentence
structure, typos, contractions (there shouldn’t be any), informal language, and other infelicities.
This is the messages between me and my Professor she approved the lastest changes::
Hello Professor,
For my comparative paper I am planning to use the Continuum Method, and the Primary sources will be the Golden Girls and Living Single. My goal will be to dive into the transformation of gender roles, queerness, women in comedy, racism, unruly women, and so much more pertaining to single women making their own rules. The Golden Girls will be my later text while Living Single will be my earlier text, however, I want to argue how the older four women transformed several ideas for the younger four women of Living Single. I plan to use the two pre-selected shows from Golden Girls and find two comparable topics (if I can of Living Single). Nonetheless, by using Stott’s “The Body,” “Women in Comedy,” “Race and Ethnicity” and “Comedy Queered” articles to reinforce my arguments will be immensely helpful for this paper. Both amazing shows were created by American writers that were powerful women who wanted to change the portrayal of old and young women on television. These shows promoted the ideology of being happy, successful, and fulfilled without having a husband. These 8 women were sexually active, held good jobs, and created an unbreakable sisterhood (sistahood). By comparing Golden Girls with Living Single, we can see that Golden Girls transform the idea of women being independent, from being looked down upon to the idea of women running the world.
yesterday at 2:01 PM
Hi Stephanie, Your choice of shows is great! Since the two assigned episodes of Golden Girls don’t hold to any particular theme, you can select different episodes.
Be careful about trying to cram in too many themes / ideas: Gender roles, queerness, women in comedy, racism, unruly women could each take up their own essay…while some of these themes coexist you’ll want to keep your argument tight so you have plenty of room for detailed analysis.
For the continuum method with Golden Girls being the older show, you’ll be arguing how Living Single responds to it? So Living Single will become the main focus / bulk of the essay. I recommend putting a rough thesis here using the template and I can provide some feedback.
10 hours ago
Hi Stephanie, That sounds good. The thesis is looking better. Based on the thesis it looks like Golden Girls will be your major text and Living Single will be your minor? Also, I’m not as familiar with Living Single…is queerness celebrated or is it playing off of negative tropes? Does Queen Latifah’s personal life affect the storylines of the show?
5 hours ago

Hello Professor,
Thanks for your feedback. Just to make sure I’m on the right track, I am now composing my paper using the Minor/Major Text Method instead of the Continuum Method. I just want to make sure before rough publishing. Thanks. However, I will research the answers for the 2 great questions you posed. I will now be using Golden Girls as my major and Living Single as my minor 70/30 split? I actually like this method best because I love Golden Girls. I have seen every episode on Hallmark. This was the week I have been waiting for. Thanks

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