M A I N * L I N K S

SUNY Fredonia
College of Arts and Humanities
AMST/ENGL 296: American Identities
Spring 2010
Section 1: TTh 8-9:20, Fenton 159
Office: Fenton 265; MF 9-11, 3-5, TTh 9:30-12, and by appointment; 673-3856
E-mail: simon@fredonia.edu, brucesimon18@yahoo.com
Web Page: www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/
ANGEL Space: https://fredonia.sln.suny.edu/default.asp

Final Project

This page takes on three important questions about the Final Project: what, what for, and how to. My goal is to make this page as useful to you as possible, so let me know if it can be improved. If anything is badly worded, unclear, or missing, please contact me with constructive criticisms. Thanks.


The Final Project is your chance to propose, research, present on, and write on a topic of your choice that connects the course and your primary academic or intellectual interests in a format of your choice. You may choose to write a critical or a pedagogical essay, or do a creative, web authoring, or service learning project. Or you may propose a different format and see if you can get it approved.

Whatever format you choose, you must select and use at least one of the required readings from the course and at least one of the critical studies from the course bibliography, and find and use at least two additional print secondary sources, in addition to whatever additional non-print research you want to do. And you must post a proposal on the course ANGEL group's discussion board by Monday, April 12, and follow up with a presentation in one of the last class meetings of the semester.

Here's more on the suggested formats for the Final Project:

What For

This course asks you to observe, analyze, and reflect upon American Identities on a number of levels: 1) transnational/national/regional/historical through the course readings and in-class discussions and activities; 2) personal/communal through the Identification Project; 3) as Fredonia students/community members through the Team-Teaching Project. The goal of the Final Project is to help you integrate and demonstrate what you have learned in the course by focusing on the multiple levels of, and the meanings, significance, and stakes of, American identities, past and present.

How To

The first stage of the Final Project is to write a proposal and get it approved. In it, you address the what, how, and why questions every reader of a proposal is interested in: you must propose a topic and format for your project, describe specifically what you want to focus on, explain your interest in the subject, justify making it the focus of the final project, briefly lay out your research plans, and provide a bibliography of works you've already consulted in developing the proposal. In short, you must try to persuade your audience (in this case, me) that what you want to do is worth doing. As with any proposal, your job is to pique your readers' interest and get them excited about seeing the results of your research and analysis. Often, this involves laying out a key question, explaining its significance, and suggesting how your approach to answering it will improve on existing approaches. This proposal should be posted on the ANGEL discussion board no later than Monday, April 12, although you are encouraged to post it as early in March as you can. I strongly suggest you email or meet with me before you turn in your proposal, as soon as you even have a possible candidate for a final project format/topic/question. That way the email feedback I give you on your proposal (through both ANGEL mail and regular email) won't come out of the blue but instead will be part of our ongoing consultation process.

The next stage is to build on your preliminary research on your topic. Your research should begin before you turn in your proposal--a good proposal is the result of a good amount of research into what precise question to ask, who else has asked it, how they have attempted to answer it, what their answers have been, and why you are dissatisfied with any single answer. So it's not like this is a stage that happens after you've turned in your proposal and we've talked it over; it overlaps the proposal drafting stage. You should use the resources on the course ANGEL site and in the Reed library databases to help you accomplish this research. Learn how to use the interlibrary loan system and how to take advantage of advice from your professors and reference librarians. A lot of what we talk about in discussing your proposal will be research-related.

As you're doing these things, you'll be giving an oral presentation on your topic in one of our class sessions at the end of the semester, on a schedule we'll be working out in mid-April. As you plan your presentation, you should ask yourself: What is most important to convey about my project to my peers? What is the most useful feedback I could get from my peers? I suggest giving yourself 5-7 minutes to do your presentation and the class 3-5 minutes to respond to it.

The final stage is to use your research and the feedback you have gotten on your proposal and presentation to help you develop, revise, edit, and hone your final project itself. Again, this can be an ongoing process--you shouldn't wait until your research is complete to begin drafting your project; if you think of your research and writing as going on parallel tracks and you going back and forth between them, it'll help you use your research to inform your writing and your writing to suggest new research inquiries. I'll be happy to discuss any stage of the writing process with you--from brainstorming to organizing your thoughts, from drafting to revising, from editing to proofreading--at any time in May.

So here's the assignment sheet for the Final Project.

Due: no later than 11:30 pm on Friday, 14 May 2010, in the FRP dropbox in the "Lessons" area on the course ANGEL site.

Format: word-processed; meeting page/word count minima laid out above in a double spaced document with reasonable fonts, font sizes, and margins; a heading that includes your name, the course name or number, and the date; a title that alludes to main themes of the project; formatting, bibliography, and citations (the latter two of which should appear only in the author's note if you are doing the creative format) in MLA style (see the links page for explanations and examples; the basic template is: Author. "Title of Poem, or Essay, or Story." Title of Book from which It Comes. Ed., Editor of Book [if any]. City of Publication: Publisher, Date of Publication. Page Numbers.); proper quotation format in body of paper according to MLA style (typically author's last name and page number in parentheses in body of paper--"..." (Delany 17).--and blockquote format for quotations five lines or longer).

Audience: In general, think of your immediate audience as someone who may be interested in the core issues of the course but who has not been taking this class; hence, you can't assume that your readers have read the texts you're writing on, so you have to include the kind of background that someone not taking this course would need.

Grading Criteria: Dependent on the format you've chosen, as follows:

M A I N * L I N K S

ENGL 296: American Identities, Spring 2010
Created: 4/8/10 10:56 am
Last modified: 4/8/10 6:45 pm
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia
Feel free to explore the Spring 2009 and Spring 2006 version of this course! versions of this course.