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Final Research Project
As you know, you are required to do a ten-to-fifteen-page final research project. This page gives a rationale for this assignment, some suggestions for developing a topic, and an assignment sheet with possible topics.
This assignment is aimed at helping you further develop and demonstrate an awareness of your own acts of interpretation in reading (goal 1 from Part IV of the syllabus--cf. main page). Your reflective essays, critical essay, and team pedagogical projects should have prepared you to choose a topic for, research, and write an extended argument in which you perform a critical reading (either in the form of a critical theoretical essay, a pedagogical essay, a creative writing project, or a web authoring project), thereby showing what you've learned in the course.
The topic and format for your final research project is open. You are encouraged to develop a topic based on any of the aspects of the course from the course description (Part I of the syllabus--cf. main page) and to choose a format that best allows you to articulate your findings persuasively (possible formats include persuasive essay, pedagogical essay, creative writing, web authoring--see below for more details). The central goal of this assignment should be to demonstrate the usefulness of using the critical contexts or theoretical concepts you've learned about in this course and/or encounter in your research to analyze your topic.
Whether the topic you choose is instructor- or student-initiated, you must turn in a 2-3-page research-based proposal by Friday, November 18, 2005, that lays out a compelling justification/rationale for pursuing the project. This will be returned to students in late November or early December during a conference with the instructor. The proposal is an opportunity to consider what you've found most interesting in the course and then to design a research project that allows you to explore that topic in more depth. For guidelines on proposals, click here.
Final Research Project Assignment Sheet
Due: Friday, December 16, 2005, no later than 5 pm, in my mailbox in the English department main office (277 Fenton) or in the envelope outside my office door (240 Fenton). Please turn in a copy of your original proposal for the paper along with the paper itself.
Format: in general, 10-15 pages, double spaced, with reasonable fonts, font sizes, and margins; title that indicates main argument of paper; heading that includes your name, the course name or number, and the date; bibliography and citations in MLA style (see links page for explanations of this style of citation); proper quotation format for quotations within a paragraph: "..." (12); blockquote format for quotes five lines or longer--but see below for variations.
Possible formats (meant to be illustrative, not comprehensive or prescriptive!) for your final research project include:
- Critical/Theoretical Essay option: write a 10-to-15-page critical essay in which you advance an argument on a particular topic using selected critical contexts or theoretical concepts from the course. The goal of this option is for you to incorporate research into secondary sources into the development and support of an argument--and hence to hone your analytical and persuasive skills by entering into an interpretive dialogue with other readers/critics of the work(s) you have chosen to analyze or by entering into a theoretical dialogue with other theorists of the concept(s) you have chosen to re-envision.
- Pedagogical Essay option: write a 10-to-15-page pedagogical essay on how you'd organize a high school class period (or set of meetings) devoted to one (or more) of the works we read in the course and on your reasons for teaching the work(s) in the way you described--or devoted to some subject that you will illuminate by using ideas from one (or more) of the work(s) in the course and on our reasons for teaching the subject in the way you described--drawing on at least three secondary sources to help you develop and support your teaching plan. The goal of this option is to show what you've learned in the course about literary criticism and/or theory by making a case for the best way of teaching a particular mode of literary criticism or theory--or a particular subject in a critical or theoretical manner--in a high school classroom. Your essay, in other words, should not simply describe what you want to do with your class; it should explain why and justify your choices. Your essay should explain and justify your goals, methods, and modes of assessment--it should make a case for why it's important to teach students what you want them to learn, for why the teaching strategies you plan to use will help you achieve your goals, and for why the assessment methods you have chosen will enable you to tell to what degree students have met your goals.
- Creative Writing option: write a story, play, series of poems, personal essay or other work that is in significant intertextual dialogue with an author, work, genre, movement, or issue that we've studied this semester, along with an author's note of at least two pages detailing the critical/theoretical issues you are addressing and the thought process that went into your composition. The goal of this option is to show what you've learned about literary criticism and theory by writing a work of your own and analyzing it in relation to works and issues in the course. Rather than, say, analyzing how someone else's text works, or arguing for how you'd teach students to do this sort of analysis, as in the previous options, you'd be showing what you've learned about critical, theoretical, and creative writing by "doing it yourself." By entering into an intertextual dialogue with other writers--by relating your text to theirs using any of the modes and devices of creative writing--you will be able to get across your "take" on the other works, on the critical issues they engage, and the narrative/poetic/dramatic strategies they enact.
- Web Authoring option: create an analytical web site devoted to a specific aspect of literary criticism or theory that hasn't been treated well on the web (see the links page for an introduction to what's out there, and to help you figure out what needs to be done) that includes an essay of at least two pages detailing the critical/theoretical issues you are addressing and the thought process that went into constructing the web site, and a bibliography of all your sources (both electronic and print). The goal of this option is for you to provide an educational resource for other readers. Your site should go beyond the usual moves (providing biographical and bibliographical information on an author, selecting quality links for further information) to fill a need/niche that is unfilled or undeveloped or not yet well done on the world-wide web.
Criteria for Evaluation: Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on the strength and persuasiveness of the rationale/justification for the project offered in the proposal; the degree of intellectual and analytical development from proposal to project; and, on the project itself, the effectiveness with which you incorporate appropriate critical/theoretical contexts, concepts, and arguments into your essay, creative piece, or web site, the coherence and validity of the implicit and explicit arguments of the piece, the effectiveness of the piece's structure in conveying your ideas and convincing your audience, and the quality of the piece's writing (including grammar, syntax, and punctuation).
Options: Here are some suggested rubrics for the final essay; you are, of course, encouraged to invent or develop your own topic, even one that doesn't fit within these rubrics. That's why you're required to write a proposal for the project--it's your job to convince your readers of the value of your proposed topic and approach.
- Application: You can choose a literary or cultural text or media event and interpret it using one or more of the critical contexts or theoretical concepts from the course.
- Debate: You can choose a critical/theoretical debate and make an argument supporting one side or another, or criticizing a shared assumption among both sides of the debate and offering your own solution to the problem.
- Theorizing through Art: You can choose a literary or cultural text and relate its mode of theorizing to one or more theoretical approches from the course.
- The Major/Minor Option: In this option, you either (a) draw on issues and methods from your primary or secondary discipline and use them to shed light on some topic connected to the course, or (b) draw on issues and methods from the course and use them to shed light on some topic connected to your primary or secondary discipline.
M A I N * N E W S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S
ENGL 345: Critical Reading, Fall 2005
Created: 10/19/05 4:59 pm
Last modified: 11/15/05 9:50 am
For earlier versions of this course, please go to the Spring 2004, Spring 2002, or Fall 2001 web sites.
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia