LITR 4328 American Renaissance

Research Option 2 (research journal)
guidelines & requirements

Model Assignments

The journal option involves as much or more work as the traditional research paper option. Your writing will be judged by similar standards.

However, the writing may be less consistently focused on a single subject. You may pursue several related subjects, which may not perfectly cohere, but the journal must be “readable.” That is, your writing should make the reader want to keep turning pages, with connections, transitions, and summaries as one part shifts to another.

Possible topics:

  • Transcendentalism
  • slave narratives
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Utopian movement of the American Renaissance (Brook Farm, Fourierism, Fruitlands, the Shakers)
  • rise of popular women's writing
  • Abolitionist writers
  • Southern pro-slavery writers (Simms, Fitzhugh, and others)
  • Whitman and New York demi-monde (bohemian underworld)
  • the "Concord circle" of writers who gathered around Emerson.

Many other topics are also possible, and you are encouraged to develop your own. Look at previous examples of journals for this and other courses online through my faculty website, or leaf through the table of contents and introductions of our anthology for inspiration.

Research journal—required & possible contents: (page suggestions are for double-spaced print)

(Except for the introduction and conclusion, all items and page numbers below are optional or variable according to your interests and findings. In no case should your journal be over 20 pages. Other options are always possible.)

·        Introduction (required): rationale: what you wanted to learn and how; preview contents, general themes, choices (1-1 & 1/2 pages)

(All the following “body” components are optional for inclusion or variable in length according to your topics and findings)

  • Essential general information about subject: 4-6 pages explaining general subject, drawn from background and secondary sources.
  • Review of 2 or 3 secondary sources (articles or books) about your subject. Summarize the content and usefulness of these sources. (1-2 pages each)
  • Literary biographies of one or more authors relevant to your subject. Review the lives and writings, summarize importance and contributions. (2-3 pages each)
  • Review of one or more websites relevant to your subject. Review contents, accuracy, usefulness. (1-2 pages each)
  • Many other possibilities that you will discover as you research. The journal is necessarily a "loose" form, so let your findings dictate your organization.
  • Conclusion (required): 1-2 pages summarizing what you have learned, what you would do next if you continued your research, how it might be applied.

Where to list or how to document your “works cited” or “bibliography’ for a journal: You may either fully document your research as you review it, or you may save full documentation for a “Works Cited” at the end of the journal. However, you need not do both; that is, there is no need to duplicate information at the end that you’ve already provided on the way through.

Model Assignments