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                                  Arai: Woman Writing Travel Diary (1845-46), by Totokuni III

  Writing Assignments

These are writing assignments for the whole class. Individual students may have additional or alternate assignments, to be determined in conference.

To facilitate a substantial, legible response, submit every writing assignment in MS Word.


September 1
September 11
September 18
October 2
October 16
October 30
November 15
November 23
December 11

 

Tuesday, September 1 (day of our first seminar meeting)
Email PM your preliminary prospectus and bibliography: the final conference paper for Visions/Revisions or a suitable substitute. If you're starting from scratch, the preliminary prospectus and bibliography
should:
- Lay out the question(s) prompting your research: what are you trying to figure out?
- State your thesis in reply to your question(s): what's your best guess at this point?
- Explain the significance of your project: what do you hope to contribute to existing historical scholarship of your topic?
- Itemize the relevant scholarship--not every book or article you know of, but those you will actually use.
- Briefly describe the primary sources you intend to use, noting their scope and location(s).

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Friday, September 11
Email the whole seminar a half-page statement that lays out the one (yes, one) core question that informs your thesis and summarizes the specific research tasks (in primary sources) that flow from that question. Don't hesitate to focus on a big issue that motivates your research as opposed to a finely-honed question about history or historiography. It's easier to craft a research project that sheds light on a big question than to start with a small question and then figure out why it matters. This writing will be discussed in both class and conference.

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Friday, September 18
Email the whole seminar an annotated bibliography of your most important secondary sources--important because you and they are on the same analytic wavelength, not simply because they are provide useful information.  Include a three-to five-page introductory essay that both analyzes the conversation this bibliography represents and summarizes what you aim to add to the conversation. Before you write the essay, read one or more of the review essays distributed to the seminar as PDFs; they exemplify the kind of thinking you need to do. Bibliographies and essays will be discussed in both class and conference.

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Friday, October 2
Email PM the historiographical portion of your introduction to the thesis. This piece should be three to five pages long and should situate your work historiographically: that is, summarize and assess the scholarly conversation your thesis enters and explain what it will add to the conversation. This assignment will be discussed in conference.

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Friday, October 16
Email the whole seminar a short report (one ot two pages) on a collection of primary sources important to your thesis. Describe the sources, explain the potential you see in them, and comment on the challenges they present. In class, we'll discuss Contesting Archives as well as thesis work, so be ready to comment on your approach to these sources compares to and contrasts with the projects Contesting Archives describes?
This report will be discussed in class.

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Friday, October 30
Email the whole seminar the final draft of your prospectus and bibliography. The prospectus should be about nine to twelve pages long, not counting the bibliography. In addition to whatever else you wish it to accomplish, it should (not necessarily in this order) define your topic; lay out your core questions and explain their significance; assess the analytically relevant historiography and make clear what you will add to it; describe your primary sources and research methods and expound on their value in this context. The bibliography should be un-annotated and include both primary and secondary sources. This is the prospectus that you will file with the Office of Graduate Studies, so it's imperative that you proofread, copyedit, and make sure that your citations adhere to the rules (which you'll find in Rampolla's Pocket Guide). Prospectuses will be discussed in class and conference.

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Sunday, November 15
Distribute to the whole seminar (by email or, if necessary, hard copy) the primary document (maximum length: five pages) you wish the seminar to discuss in class on November 20. In addition, email the class an essay of three or four pages that introduces the document, offers an analysis, and outlines the issues you wish to discuss with the class. This assignment will be discussed in class, not conference.

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Monday, November 23
Email PM the introduction to your thesis. The introduction should be about twelve to fifteen pages long. In addition to whatever else you wish to it to accomplish, it should (not necessarily in this order) define your topic; lay out your core questions and explain their significance; assess the relevant historiography and make clear what you will add to it; describe your primary sources and research methods and expound on their value in this context; and present a preview of the thesis, chapter by chapter. Although this is the first draft, be sure to proofread, edit, and follow formal rules of documentation (which you'll find in Rampolla's Pocket Guide). The introduction will be discussed in conference, not in class. NOTE THAT, TO A LARGE DEGREE, THE INTRODUCTION REITERATES THE PROSPECTUS. BEAR IN MIND, HOWEVER, THAT, WHILE THE PROSPECTUS DESCRIBES WHAT YOU INTEND TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE FUTURE, THE INTRODUCTION WILL BECOME THE FINISHED THESIS'S PREAMBLE, EXPLAINING WORK COMPLETED. WRITE IT ACCORDINGLY, AS PART OF THE THESIS. This writing will be discussed in conference.

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Friday, December 11
Email PM the preliminary outline of your thesis. The task here is to tackle big organizational questions: How many chapters will the thesis have? For each chapter, what are the main topic(s), the empirical base, the core analytic theme(s), and the most important contribution to the thesis's overall argument? What, if any, appendices are required, and why are they important? This writing will be discussed in conference.

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