Final Research Project Guidelines, Due 12/13 w/Portfolio

As discussed, here are the basic guidelines for the final research project:

  • The final essay topic should involve at least one writer and work on our syllabus, to be compared or contrasted with a second writer and work not on the syllabus, but which shares a common context with the first primary source (this can be historical or contemporary, as long as there is a common generic link).  Ask yourself: what insight is to be gained by juxtaposing these texts and works?  You may build on any of your previous work for the course, and are encouraged to use each others’ posts and suggestions etc. to hunt down sources.  Previous in-class conversations and others’ input are also fair game for developing your topic, but be sure to trace back your insights to a scholarly source wherever possible.
  • The length should run anywhere from 15-20 pages, enough to allow a substantial discussion of the authors and works at hand, and to permit an examination of the relevant biographical, historical, and critical contexts shared by these works.
  • The relevant scholarship on the individual authors, as well as the common contexts, will be not merely enumerated, but synthesized and related to the essay’s claims.  The citations, which should number at least 6-8, including scholarly biographies when relevant (ODNB etc), should meet scholarly expectations in terms of the relevance, accuracy, timeliness, etc of your sources on your primary sources and secondary-critical debates.
  • I remain available for drafts etc. Let me know if you get stuck.
  • This will be due 12/13 by 5 pm, emailed to me as a single PDF, along with a single PDF of the portfolio and self-assessment essay (guidelines to come).

For those of you still wondering about the problem of inserting yourself into the scholarly “conversation” regarding this era’s writing, this little excerpt from Graff and Birkenstein’s They-say/I-say  might be useful for us as we talk about formulating your topic and narrowing down the problem you want to set for yourself in your research.

If you have questions, put them on the blog.

Good luck,



Author: Dave Mazella

I am an Associate Professor of English at the University of Houston, Department of English, specializing in 18th-century British literature.

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