Assignment #1      Assignment #2    Assignment #3    Assignment #4    Assignment #5    Assignment #6    Assignment #7    Assignment #8

Colloquia Assignments

As indicated in the 2016-17 schedule, some preparation is required for certain colloquia. More detailed instructions for these assignments can be found below. All assignments, unless due on the day of a colloquium, should be emailed to the Arnhold Graduate Fellow at

Winter 2017

Assignment #1:

    • Due Friday, January 20: “Choosing and Developing a Research Question” (nothing written is due, just come prepared to discuss your ideas)

– Identify up to three or four texts that you might want to write about (texts being a broad term that can extend beyond the confines of literature).  It helps to choose texts that you really enjoyed writing or learning about, or texts that you find that you constantly return to. In other words, what texts are you passionate about?

– Think about why you chose these texts by identifying a couple key scenes or moments in each text that you are drawn to (these would be moments that you likely feel compelled to close read and analyze in detail):

– What is it about these moments that intrigues or interests you? Do they present a particular problem or concern? Do they resist clear interpretation, and if so, why do you think this is?  Does the form of the text provide any insight as to why these moments are so compelling?

– Do you notice any patterns in your observations about these scenes? Are they linked by a common thread, and if so, what might this commonality be?

– From here, you may begin to shape a series of guiding research questions focused around these primary texts, their shared themes/ideas, and your own interests. For help shaping these questions, see the following handout: “Developing Research Questions.”

Assignment #2:

  • Due Friday, February 10: “Close Reading: Narrowing Primary Texts”

– All research – no matter the depth and scope of the project – begins with the act of close reading. Reading closely means developing a deep understanding and precise interpretation of a literary passage that is based first and foremost on the words themselves. But a close reading does not stop there; rather, it embraces larger themes and ideas evoked and/or implied by the passage itself.

 – For this assignment, you should conduct a close reading  of one of your primary sources. This should be an extremely extensive close reading – meaning you should explore any and all potential interpretations, denotations, connotations, associations, etc. of the passage at hand, not just those you believe to be already present in the text. Ideally, you will end up with several pages of detailed notes on specific words, rhythms, sounds, images, metaphors, etc. Your time and energy spent on this early process of interpretation (and thus the degree to which you dig deeply into its details) will determine the strength and originality of your ultimate argument. This is where you’ll gather your most decisive, creative, and convincing evidence for the project.

– In the past, students have found the following handout helpful in serving as a guide for organizing their thoughts and focus during the close reading process: “How To Do a Close Reading.”

Assignment #3:

  • Due Wednesday, February 15: “Research Perspectives, Approaches, and Methodologies”

– Develop a list of 5-7 key terms that embody your current research interests.  These terms should reflect the “bigger picture” of your project and the research fields that you potentially will be working in.  One way to approach this is to consider what terms you would have to use if you were to explain your research interests to another Arnhold Fellow.

Assignment #4:

  • Due Friday, February 24: “Building a Research Proposal” – Due Friday, February 24

Initial research question(s) and bibliography. This should be your overarching question that will guide your research, but it should also begin to narrow down your focus to include the particular texts, contexts, and analytical tools and terminology that are most important to your project. The bibliography should still focus on establishing your primary texts, but it is also good to begin to think about what theoretical or secondary texts might help you situate your research in a particular field.

Assignment #5: 

  • Due Thursday, March 16: “The Research Paper Proposal”

 – This 800-1,000 word proposal* should state the following:

– General topic and research area

– Potential primary texts (you don’t need to directly reference your secondary sources yet)

– The basic parameters of your project (i.e. a specific genre or media form, the historical time frame).

– The driving question(s) your research paper will be addressing (note, there needn’t be an argument/thesis yet)

– Significance or stakes: why are these research questions important or meaningful to your understanding of the text(s)? What new insight or interpretations will they potentially offer about your text(s)?

– Also feel free to mention any concerns you have either in the proposal or in a separate document- this way I will know what to think about for our meeting.

*Please make sure that you define/gloss any relevant terms: assume that your proposal is being read by someone out of your field. Try to be as specific and concrete as possible. I have included below an excerpt from two dissertation proposals, mine and last year’s graduate fellow, to give you an idea of what I mean by driving questions.  Please keep in mind that these are more broad than you should be shooting for because it is for a dissertation; moreover, this excerpt doesn’t contain all of the components listed above.

Spring 2017

Assignment #6

Writing a Research Paper Read the Cambridge Companion chapter on “Bishop: Race, Class, Gender” and take note of what makes it an effective (or perhaps ineffective) research paper.  Don’t worry about details but take note of (and please be prepared to discuss): the overarching argument, structure, organization, narrative form, accessibility, writing style, etc. Think about what works well in the article and what doesn’t.

Assignment #7

Assignment #8

Revised and Expanded Project Proposal Due by 5/22:
Submit a hard copy either in my mailbox or in the folder outside my office door (SH 2632 S).

The revised and expanded proposal of 500-550 words should take into account feedback you received from the Arnhold Graduate Fellow in the beginning of Spring quarter, the Research Roundtable (if you attended), and the poster showcase.  It should contain the elements required in the first proposal (see above) and well as very concretely and explicitly explain the stakes/significance* of your project (see below).  Even if you don’t feel that your project has changed a lot since the first proposal please revise it so that it reflects the feedback you have been given. Also, if you are hoping to continue with the program next year please specify the faculty member you have either asked or are anticipating asking to be your faculty mentor in Fall of 2015.

**The significance of your project can be thought of as its stakes or “so what” component. What knowledge will be produced by your research? What new insight will it offer scholars? In other words, what knowledge will scholars gain by reading about your research?

FRAMING in terms of the conversation you are taking part in: When establishing the significance of your project you will need to situate yourself within your field by very concisely explaining how your research fits into the existing scholarship on the subject.  What scholars are you in conversation with?   How have other scholars approached the same concern or problem? By locating your work you make explicit how your research is relevant to the ongoing discussion.

Questions to consider:
1. Significance in terms of the text itself: What new light will it shed on these texts? Does your project offer new interpretations?
2. Significance in terms of research field: What knowledge are you contributing to your research field (ex. cultural studies, feminist studies, chicano studies, etc.)? Does your work shed new light on key concepts within this field (ex. does it interrogate the boundaries of genre?)? Why does it matter to other scholars? Why should they be interested? Why are these questions worth asking?

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