Saturday, October 26, 2013

Research Paper and Research Paper Prosepectus

Due: Wednesday, November 6 [Email. Follow guidelines on syllabus.]
Length: 2-3 pages

The Research Paper Prospectus should describe the topic of your paper and give a tentative title. State clearly what the aims and scope of the paper are. That is, what question or questions are you trying to answer, and how are you going about the business of answering them (i.e. what materials--literary, historical, theoretical/philosophical--are you consulting?)? You should also say something about why the question or questions you are trying to answer are of consequence. Why are they important? What will such an undertaking show us? Doing all this will, of course, require familiarity with relevant historical, literary, and/or theoretical contexts, so like the Editing Project Prospects, this prospectus will require a significant first wave of research. If you have a sense of what your argument will be, include that information, too.

Due: Friday, December 6 [Email. Follow guidelines on syllabus.]
Length: 15-20 pages

The major assignment of the course, the Research Paper should tackle a significant question and demonstrate: 
(1) that you have read relevant primary literary texts very closely.
(2) that you know how to advance a compelling argument and support it with evidence.
(3) that you know how to position that argument in relation to the ideas of other critics.
(4) that you know how to analyze literary texts in a way that is responsive to cultural and historical context. 
(5) your research paper is also expected to be free from problems of grammar and spelling and errors of fact.

I don't offer ready-made topics or prompts. At graduate-level it's crucial that you learn how to develop your own research topics--topics that are significant but still manageable. This is an important intellectual and critical skill, and it takes practice. It's also true, though, that scholarship often benefits from collaboration and discussion, so if you want help developing a paper topic, or if you just want to kick ideas around, please come talk to me. I'm more than happy to offer guidance.