M A I N * L I N K S

SUNY Fredonia
College of Arts and Sciences
ENGL/INDS 240: Introduction to African American Literature and Culture
Spring 2013
Section 1: TTh 9:30-10:50, Thompson W231
Office: Fenton 265; M 10-12, 2-4, TTh 11-12, W 11-12, 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 Research Project, Spring 2013

This page takes on three important questions about the Final Research Project: what, what for, and how to (here's where you can find the assignment sheet). 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, 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 or a 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 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.

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

The possible topics for the final project are wide open. Basically, it's your job in the proposal to convince me that doing what you want to do in the format you want to do it is the best way to finish the semester! You might, for instance, modify any of the options for the critical essay or do variations on them, so long as the question and work don't overlap too much with your critical essay or group presentation. Here are related possibilities:

What For

So far this semester you've already done a good deal of writing--ranging from the informal free writing on specific topics in class to the more open-ended and varied interactions on the ANGEL discussion board to writing a short critical essay. What the Final Research Project allows you to do is to pull together all the skills you've developed in these smaller assignments and move through the entire research and writing process: from considering what texts and questions interest you the most, to identifying a research topic or inquiry, to developing your own perspective on that topic or question though critical reading of primary and secondary texts, to conveying your perspective in the form you feel would best showcase your research and critical or creative skills.
For further possible focuses for your final research project, see the "suggestions for future exploration" sections of the race, culture, identity, country, city, nation, and world pages on the course web site.

How To

The first stage of the Final Research Project is to write a proposal and get it approved. In it, 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 forum by 11:30 pm on Friday, 12 April 2013, although you are encouraged to post it as soon 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 reserves, the links page, and 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.

The final stage is to use your research to help you draft, revise, edit, and hone your final project itself. Again, this can be an ongoing process--you don't have to wait until your research is complete until you begin drafting your project; in fact, you shouldn't. 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.

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

Due: no later than 11:30 pm on Friday, 17 May 2013, 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--"..." (Du Bois 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 240: Introduction to African American Literature and Culture, Spring 2013
Created: 2/20/13 7:08 pm
Last modified: 2/20/13 7:08 pm
See http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/itaalc5/ for the Fall 2008 version of this course, http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl240s05/ for the Spring 2005 version, www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl240f03/ for the Fall 2003 version, www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl240/ for the Spring 2001 version, and www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/en240/ for the Fall 1999 version.