LITR 4328 American Renaissance

Research Options

antebellum "Great Star" flag

Students have three options for research projects.

Option 1 Research Essay: traditional 7-10 page analytic / research essay relevant to texts, authors, or history in course  (due 16 Nov.)

Option 2: 10-15 page research journal of knowledge compiled on a course subject. (due 16 Nov.)

Option 3: Two 4-7 paragraph research posts (due 12-16 Oct. & 16 Nov.)

Option 4: Conference proposal and presentation paper for UHCL Student Research Conference (due 16 Nov.)

Weight: approximately 30% of final grade

Documentation: MLA style

Subject prohibition: Too many students usually want to write about the lives of Poe or Dickinson and how their writings reflect these authors' personalities and experiences. Such topics often engage the biographical fallacy, which is typically counter-productive to literary criticism and critical thinking.

If students insist on writing about Poe's and Dickinson's lives as ways to interpret these authors' writings, they may do so under the following conditions:

1. Acknowledge and describe the biographical fallacy, explaining how your interpretation will transcend this approach's limitations and

2. Emphasize and defend the insights that biographical study produces.

3. Keep returning to the texts or writings of the author, informing how these texts gain meaning as a result of biographical knowledge and how a reader could not adequately appreciate these texts without biographical knowledge (even though most readers find plenty of meaning in these texts without such knowledge).

cf. Early American Literature assignment prohibitions (on writing about Salem Witch Trials as if they were really about witchcraft instead of moral hysteria).