- Tell students in medieval literature courses that “lord,” whether capitalized or not, does not necessarily refer to God (Christian or otherwise).
- Tell students in medieval and early modern classes over and over and over again that punctuation and capitalization are editorial, not authorial, and that they should not use these elements as the basis of their own interpretative arguments. Consider devoting a whole class to this.
- Explain to all students what “editorial” and “authorial” mean in the above context.
- Give detail in research paper instructions that the primary text which the student is writing about does NOT count as one of the works cited. Neither does the Merriam Webster Dictionary.
- Talk in class about appropriate dictionaries for use in essays on Old, Middle, and Early Modern English.
- Remind students that all that close reading and careful use of text to support arguments that I made them do in short assignment after short assignment also applies in the research paper.
- And above all: remember to be patient.