Getting the most points on your Final Paper Read the Directions Carefully

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Getting the most points on your Final Paper

Read the Directions Carefully

  • Attend a performance of a play or an opera or a concert by a European playwright/composer
  • Go to the San Diego Museum of Art and select a painting or sculpture currently on display by a European artist.
  • Write an 8-10 page, double spaced, one inch margins, 12 pt font academic essay comparing and contrasting the performance and the artwork.
    • Make sure you keep your entrance ticket to both the museum and to the performance as you must turn them both in with your assignment.

Writing Your Essay

  • Basic essay parts
  • Introduction [lead in, transition sentences that describe performance and artwork, and thesis]
  • Body Paragraphs [ topic sentences, good examples that describe the performance and artwork]
  • Conclusion [restates thesis in different words, summarizes main points, gives your opinion]
  • NOTE: For this essay, there is a specific structure to follow. Answer the questions as thoroughly as possible to get the most points!

Introduction + Title

  • Clever Title
  • Interesting attention getter
  • Transition sentences that announce the two works, their creators, & include information about period and style.
  • Thesis Statement + plan of development

Body Paragraph #1

  • Topic sentence with transition
  • What is the content of the performance and the artwork? What is the artist showing us?
    • In a play or opera, what is the plot?
    • In terms of music, is there a theme or consistent thread of meaning to the songs or movements?
  • Why is this important?
  • Are there certain symbols related to the artist's time period or to ours?

Body Paragraph #2

  • Topic sentence with transition
  • What is the size of the art piece, and what materials are used in the making of this artwork?
    • How do size and materials enhance the piece?
  • In an opera or play, think of characters and setting, how do they contribute to meaning?
  • In terms of music, what instruments are used and why?
    • Are there vocals? How do they enhance meaning?
  • Are there certain textures [physical or sound] that are achieved through this medium? Do they contribute to meaning?
  • Why do you think the artist chose this form to express his/her thoughts?

Body Paragraph #3

  • Topic sentence with transition
  • What colors are used in the art piece? How does color contribute to overall meaning of the piece?
    • Think about how colors contrast or blend into one another as well as colors that are very bold versus very soft.
    • Where is the artist directing our eyes? Why?
    • Also consider how the artist might contrast light and dark through shading.
  • In terms of a play or opera, think of how the artist captures our attention with words or sound.
    • Is there dramatic irony or symbolism present? How does this contrast from one form to another?
  • In terms of music, think of how sound can be vivid or soft.
    • Like color, intensity of sound can attract our attention and make us feel a certain way.

Body Paragraph #4

  • Topic sentence with transition
  • How does the artist create movement through line and shapes within the art piece?
    • How does movement or lack thereof contribute to meaning in the piece? How do the shapes you see contribute to the total effect?
  • In a play or opera, think about how the piece moves from one scene to the next.
    • How do characters move to create meaning through body and facial motions.
  • In terms of music, think of how one movement moves to the next.
    • How does the artist move us emotionally from one section to another through sound - loud/soft, fast/slow?


  • What do you think the artists' messages to the audience were intended to be?
    • Were they successful? Why or why not?
  • What did you learn about performance art and fine art through this assignment?
  • Remember, you must restate your thesis in different words and end with a clear, final thought.

Some Advice

  • 1] See the performance first and take notes! This will help you select a piece of fine art to compare/contrast it to. Again, it is better to chose things you like so you'll have more fun completing the assignment.
  • 2] This is an academic essay - if you use outside sources in this paper, you must quote them in the paragraphs and include a works cited page. You must do this even if you are paraphrasing!!
  • 3] If you haven't written an essay for a while, go to the Writing Center in the Library, and they can provide some free help.
  • 4] To give you an example of what an essay about a play or an essay about a piece of music looks like, here are two papers I wrote when I was a student. The examples I give only examine one piece. For your assignment, you must compare/contrast a performance piece [play/opera/concert] with a fine art piece.
  • -Play Paper
  • -Music Paper

Quick Tips for College Essays

  • Ask Questions Early
  • Start Sooner than Later
  • Take notes [pre-write], Then Outline, Then Write
  • Visit the Writing Center
  • Talk to your instructor
  • Share Your Essay

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