M A I N * L I N K S

SUNY Fredonia
College of Arts and Sciences
AMST/ENGL 296: American Identities
Fall 2012
Section 2: TTh 9:30-10:50, Thompson E363
Office: Fenton 265; M 10-12, 1-3, TTh 11-12, 2-3, W 1-3, 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, Fall 2012

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. Your goal is to choose a subject, a focus, and a method that allows you to most effectively shed light on an aspect of American Identities, past and/or present, that is particularly important today, in your view. 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 Friday, November 2.

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/familial/communal through the Identification Project; 3) as Fredonia students/community members through Team Work. The goal of the Final Project is to help you integrate and demonstrate what you have learned in the course by focusing a topic of your choice that allows you to explore the multiple levels of, and the meanings, significance, and stakes of, American identities, past and present. It allows you to choose a focus and a format that to you sheds the best light on American identities, past or 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 Friday, November 2, although you are encouraged to post it as early in the semester 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 solid 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 existing answer. So it's not like research 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.

Similarly, writing or crafting the actual project need not wait until the completion of your research. Much of what you write in your proposal can be revised into the paper itself or into your author's note/artist's statement. If you think of your research and writing as tracks that sometimes run parallel and sometimes intersect, you'll be in a lot better shape than someone who waits to start writing until they have finished their research. Sometimes, research can feed directly into writing as you brainstorm on how a new finding makes you rethink a particular argument. Sometimes, the best way to get out of a writing rut is to focus on what research you need to do to, what it is you need to find out to continue writing. But you should aim to have a complete draft of your project done before exam week, so that you can focus on revisions the week before you turn it in.

As you're bringing your writing and research to a close, you'll be giving an oral presentation on your topic during our scheduled final exam period. 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 about 5 minutes to do your presentation and the class about 3 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. Of course, you don't need to wait until exam week to be getting feedback on your project. I'll be happy to discuss any stage of the writing or creative process with you--from brainstorming to organizing your thoughts, from drafting to revising, from editing to proofreading--at any time in November and December.

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

Due: no later than 11:30 pm on Friday, 21 December 2012, in the Final Project (FP) 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 (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--"..." (Yamashita 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, Fall 2012
Created: 10/16/12 11:27 am
Last modified: 10/30/12 1:18 pm
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia
Feel free to explore the Spring 2012, Fall 2011, Spring 2010, Spring 2009, and Spring 2006 versions of this course.