Comparative Paper (Unit 1)

[view guidelines for Units 2 & 3]

Each of the comparative papers requires you to compare, for an audience of your academic peers, different sources (one film and several readings) from the same religious tradition (e.g, Christian, Buddhist, etc.) that illustrate the way people deal with their day to day lives in that tradition. [read more about use of sources...] You must also complete, and include as a cover sheet, a checklist that verifies you have done all the necessary preparation and included all required elements in the paper, and include, on the back of the last page, a concise hand-written self-assessment of both your writing process and the product you ended up with.

Primary Tasks (to be clearly separated by numbers &/or section headings):

0. Please omit the usual introductory paragraph for this first paper. [why on earth...]

1. Selectively summarize one narrative film, whether viewed in class or on your own. Begin with a one or two sentence synopsis in your own words; highlight a precise description of one or two key scenes in the course of sequentially summarizing other details more briefly; and provide a two or three sentence closing statement that restates the synopsis and/or describes the filmmaker's perspective. [read more...]

2. Selectively summarize, as you did for the film, one narrative or essay (NOT a scriptural source or NHLR) from WOR or CP. In this case, a synopsis of an essay should specify overall content with precision; your sequential summary of details should highlight one or two substantial excerpts, providing page number citations in parentheses even when paraphrasing; and in your closing statement, describe perspective (if you chose to) based on written words rather than scenes and dialogue. [read more...]

3. Compare both similarities & differences between the film and reading you have summarized, integrating also some detail(s) from one other reading found in NHLR, WOR (scriptural sources OK here), or CP; once again cite page numbers even for paraphrase. As with the summaries, begin with an synopsis of key parallels and contrasts; clearly organize your comparison of details; and end with a summary of comparative points. [read more...]

In getting started with your paper, feel free to mimic the writing sample, which compares an introductory reading from WOR with the excerpt from the movie "Forrest Gump" shown in class at the beginning of the term. Details regarding style and format for the papers will be discussed in class one week before the first due date, and may be reviewed before or after that time by reading FAQ #18-25.

** EXTRA CREDIT (1-5 points): When you have finished at least a draft of the items above, create your own diagram, doodle, or concept map that in some way illustrates your comparison of the film and readings. [read more...]

NOTE: students who score an 90 (A-) or higher on th paper will have the opportunity to combine the different elements more creatively in the remaining two papers, which will also require more in-depth comparison.

Other Requirements:

1200-1600 words (exact count indicated at top of checklist)
double-spaced type, with pages numbered & stapled or paper-clipped
(PLUS text of the paper pasted into an email to
with checklist on front & self-assessment & name on BACK of last page ONLY.

DUE: beginning of class Tuesday, March 7

Consider also point values, late policy, & penalties for excessive mechanical errors.

Dimensions of Religious Life

Reading Assessment Tests & Final Exam

Frequently Asked Questions

Comparative Papers & Sample