English 669: Bibliography and Methodology
Assignment 3
Dr. Morillo

Assignment 3: Writing Abstracts

One of the genres with which you will become increasingly familiar as you engage in academic scholarship is the conference abstract.  Abstracts can range from only 200 wds. up to 500, with 300 quite common. Being able to write a good one is the key to getting into conferences where you can read your work and hear the work of your peers.

Your Writing Assignment.
You will write one 300-word abstract of your own work. Single-spaced text. Fits on one page.
The 300 word limit will be strictly enforced via the word count function.

You will bring 2 copies of the abstract, on paper to class: one for you, one for your peer reviewer. You will send a file version to me, due by class time. You and your peer will then discuss how to revise and improve your abstracts.

What are you abstracting?

Take any argumentative paper you have written and develop an abstract from that paper. Learning to abstract the argument of a longer paper is a very good way for you to gain a clearer perspective about what you’ve really done in a paper, what your chief concerns, methods, and points are.  The abstract also prepares you for writing the genre that is the key to professionalization at the MA level and beyond. By learning to write good abstracts you have the best chance of getting your work accepted  at conferences. Being able to abstract work will help you condense longer reserach papers you may have written or will write into the shorter form of 10-12 pages that can be read in the 20 minutes presenters are typically allotted at conferences.

You may wish to consult the general (not just for English) guidelines from Columbia College for examples and hints Writing an Academic Abstract Note that these are not limited to abstracts of work in the humanities. Several strong abstracts from this assigment did in fact get NCSU MA  students' work accepted at conferences.

To familiarize yourself with the look and lingo of the Call for Papers genre, here's a real Call For Papers entry from recent years asking for 200-wd abstracts. From the U Penn CFP site

"Crossing the dark sky of exile": Vladimir Nabokov and the Issue of Exile (Abstract due date would follow)
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

In Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov writes that "Sirin passed," "across the dark sky of exile" "like a meteor, and disappeared, leaving nothing much else behind him than a vague sense of uneasiness." While most would disagree that Nabokov disappeared or left nothing much behind him, many would agree that exile played a large role in his life and works. Even before he was forced to flee Russia, Nabokov's earliest poetry expressed the pain of exile and loss, a pain that would only intensify in the years to come. After several years in Germany - during which time Nabokov continued to write in Russian despite becoming increasingly aware that he would probably never return to the land of his birth - and France, Nabokov finally settled in America where he would find fame, fortune, and notoriety in his adopted home, a life very different from that described by Charles Kinbote in Pale Fire: "a writer in exile, sans fame, sans future, sans audience, sans anything but his art." Such a triumph never could have occurred if Nabokov had not left behind his Russian tongue for English, a move that Nabokov once referred to as his "private tragedy," a tragedy perhaps compounded when he later came to translate Lolita into Russian and found that he had lost his mastery of the language of his nation. This panel seeks to explore the theme of exile in the works of Vladimir Nabokov: his poetry, his novels, his translations of and lectures on Russian literature, and his famous autobiography. What role does exile play in his works? In what ways do his works transcend national boundaries and become works of world literature? This panel should appeal to anyone with an interest in Nabokov and the issue of transnational influence on world literature. Please submit 250-300 word abstracts (MSWord) to Jackie Cameron atjackiec159@hotmail.com by September 30.

cfp categories: 

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