Assignment 7 :
Draft, Research Proposal
A good title provides the reader with
just the general domain of the paper (e.g. something about Howard
reading of Middlemarch
etc.), it includes one or more key terms
from the thesis of your argument. For example, "A Blurred Materialism:
Technologizing Memory in Beckett and Crowley," lets us know that memory
and technology will be key terms in the argument. Imagine your title
having to help
convince a reader
to look at your one argument about, say, Faulkner, out of the many
of other arguments in print about Faulkner. For example, John Irwin
an excellent book on Faulkner Doubling and Incest/Repetition and
A Speculative Reading of Faulkner.
Your title need not follow the
academic formula (title: subtitle) but your title needs to be cogent
enticing. Something unexpected for the topic, and pithy, as in Kroll's
"Pope and Drugs" can make a title both memorable and useful.
Within the narrative 3
works from your Works Cited will be cited in MLA
style, in parentheses (author page)
within in the narrative text of the proposal, showing that you've in fact read them and
something in detail. Remember those 3 annotations you wrote earlier?
<>You are to propose an interesting question, one requiring some research to discover a plausible answer to it. The topics can be about scholarship, teaching, anything intellectually serious and worth exploring. The sources you cite in this part of the proposal will help show others that you know what you are talking about, and that even though you might not have your own answer to your question yet, you are aware of some other authoritative answers to questions similar to it or otherwise related thematically or topically to it. If you can hypothesize an answer to your question based on your research thus far, by all means do so. However, the most important thing is to frame for your readers a question that is cogent, interesting, and not obviously answered without some systematic research. Use your developing knowledge of academic style(s) to choose a writing voice that is suitable serious, but also suits you. Why does your question matter? What is novel about it, and why might others besides yourself and outside your particular circle of knowledge and care about it?
You will need to situate your work within a world of scholarship, as represented by those works with which we can see your ideas involved in a kind of conversation. This situation of ideas within fields and traditions of research is vital to graduate-level research, and essential to eventual publication of even the best ideas. A narrative truly informed by what you've read, especially what you can cite directly, is the measure of your mastery of situation. Scholarly citation of others' work is the foundation of strong research and makes a good Works Cited far more than an exercise in form.
Even though you are writing about what you are doing, make the main subject of the narrative the project idea itself rather than yourself as autobiographical subject. It is generally unnecessary to say, "I believe that x, I think that y." For example, note the difference between, "I believe that current Hawthorne studies are woefully inadequate" and "Recently, studies of Hawthorne have failed to address..." The state of Hawthorne studies, not you as individual, is the real focus of interest and therefore better merits being the subject of the sentence.
Remember your audience: educated lay people. Do not talk down
but be vigilant about kinds of jargon that do not translate well across
disciplines or fields. Define and explain terms as necessary. Remember
that even abstract ideas do not demand abstract terminology to be
Be sure to proof this section; nothing sinks a proposal sooner
bad proofing and careless errors. Don't just rely on spell check.
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