M A I N * L I N K S

SUNY Fredonia
College of Arts and Humanities
ENGL 299: Fantasy Fiction
Fall 2010
Section 1: MW 3-4:20, Fenton 179
Office: Fenton 265; MW 1-3, TTh 10-12, 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 Research Project, Fall 2010

This page takes on three important questions about the Final Research 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 Research 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, intellectual, and/or career interests in a format of your choice. You may choose to write a critical or a pedagogical essay, or do a creative or web authoring 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 site's discussion board no later than Friday, November 12, in which you (1) describe your option, topic, and research plans/progress; (2) provide a rationale/justification for doing what you plan; (3) ask me any questions you may have about the final research project.

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

What For

The final project in this course is your chance to move beyond what we do on the discussion board, in class discussions, activities, and microwritings, and in the critical essay by pursuing a research topic of your choice in some depth and presenting your findings in the form you feel is most appropriate. Think carefully about which texts, questions, and modes of analysis have most interested you over the course of the semester, how this course connects to or helps you gain a new perspective on your major, goals, and/or interests, and invent your own line of inquiry that best allows you to integrate what you have learned in the course about reading, writing, research, critical thinking, and fantasy fiction.

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 12, although you are encouraged to post it as early in the month 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 feedback I give you on your proposal 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 existing 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 after Thanksgiving break. For those going relatively soon after the break, your presentation is likely to be an update of your proposal, filling in the blanks, clarifying any ambiguities, and turning uncertainties into decisions. For those going in the middle, it might turn into more of a progress report on your research or exploration of how your topic has changed since you first conceived of it. For those going toward the end of the semester, it might turn into more of a preview of the final draft. Whenever you go, though, you should tailor your presentation to get you the feedback you find most useful to the progress of your project. As opposed to the discussion board, where only some students will read and respond to your proposal, the presentation is your chance to fill the entire class in on your project and seek feedback/suggestions/criticisms from them (or at least those in attendance that day!). What is most important to convey about your project at the time you are going? What is the most useful feedback you could get from your peers? These are the questions you should be considering as you plan your presentation. 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 December.

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

Due: proposal due no later than 11:30 pm on Friday, 12 November 2010, on the discussion board on the course ANGEL site; presentation; presentation in class in December; final draft due no later than 11:30 pm on Friday, 17 December, in the FRP dropbox in the "Lessons" area on the course ANGEL site.

Format: word-processed; meeting page/word count minima for your format 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--"..." (Tepper 18).--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 299: Fantasy Fiction, Fall 2010
Created: 10/26/10 1:04 pm
Last modified: 11/8/10 12:48 pm
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia