Write and submit two “adventures
/ experiments in research.”
Essential information: Research posts are not essays of literary
criticism but reports on your research findings on literary
criticism or history concerning utopias.
Sources: At least 4 sources. You may use
previous research posts from LITR 5439
Utopias Model Assignments as sources or as leads to other sources.
Length: 4 paragraphs (though you may add 1-2
more paragraphs if the alternative is "monster paragraphs")
Works Cited / Bibliography? As the models
demonstrate, some research posts feature a Works Cited at the end; others
provide documentation as they cite in the text; and others do some combination.
Topics must be relevant to our subject matter of Literary and Historical
Utopias but should also reflect your personal and professional interests.
are reports, not essays.
They should be interesting and readable, but
NOT analyses of literary
texts. Instead, they report and explain your
research and findings on a topic
of interest (which may involve some literary analysis that you may report).
Relate your research to Literature, but
content options include history, anthropology, sociology, religious studies,
women's studies, multicultural studies, etc.
Your topic may
develop from a course
text or author, a term or theory in the course
a web review or student-led discussion, or relevant material from other courses, personal reading,
or experience, as long as it relates to our course's subject matter.
Your second post may continue the
same content as your first post, so that your two posts relate to,
build on, or vary each other—or they may be distinct subjects.
only absolute stipulation for content is
that the subject must have something to do with
utopias, dystopias, or intentional communities.
exam will assess one or both of your posts as part of your
essay on your overall learning experience.
Most typical mistake:
Students want to write a personal analysis of texts we're studying or
might study because that's the kind of writing they're familiar with in a
Literature course. That approach is an essay, not a report.
Some primary research
may be involved, and you may involve your own conclusions and insights, but this report
mostly summarizes secondary and background research.
(See primary, background, &
In brief, Research Posts emphasize
gathering and explaining knowledge,
not reading and
interpreting poems or fiction—though your research may apply to
poems or fiction.
Length: 4-7 paragraphs, plus or
minus bibliographic information
Bibliographic requirements and
information: At least 4 sources, at least some of which should be from
reputable scholarship and not just stray internet postings. MLA style is
expected. Information may be included in text or more completely in listings at
end of post.
Published scholarship has the most prestige
and professionalism, but for
some subjects consider interviews with experts or
practitioners. For instance, some teaching issues may offer little research, so
interview someone who may have more knowledge, like a former teacher or
Posting to webpage:
Email contents to instructor at
Instructor will post to webpage and email notification of posting with a brief
reaction. This may be
all the feedback the student will receive until final grade report, though
students may always confer with instructor to review. (See
for your entry to serve as a link. The title should
indicate your post's content. The title may take the form of a question.
paragraph: Introduce and frame a
question you want
to answer or a topic you want to know more about.
- Explain the background or source of your interest;
how you were familiar with or already knew on the subject, how or where
you learned it or were alerted to it, etc.
- These backgrounds can be personal as
well as educational or professional.
- At some point in this introductory
paragraph, a statement of the question you’re trying to answer should appear.
3rd paragraphs: Describe your search
for answers to your question or topic.
- Identify, locate, describe, and
evaluate at least two sources.
- Your sources may be print, Web, or personal (interview, lecture, conversation, or anecdote).
- If Web, provide links.
print, provide bibliographic information. (MLA style is preferred, but the main
point of all documentation is to enable your reader to find the source.)
“personal,” provide as much contextual information as possible; welcome to
paragraph: What is the answer to your question?
- Your “answer” may take a variety of forms, as long as you demonstrate
- You may find a definite answer to your specific
- Or you may learn that you’ve asked the wrong question, in which case
you could conclude by revising your question.
- Summarize and
evaluate what you have learned.
- Consider what your next step might be if you
continued your research along this line.
These paragraph descriptions are only guidelines,
not absolute rules.
You may write more than 4 paragraphs, but more than 6 or 7
paragraphs may push the assignment too far.
Grades for research posts are not returned until the
Final Grade Report
Instead of a grade and extended
review for your first post, on receipt of your submission instructor sends a brief email summarizing
overall impression of your submission + suggestions for
Your two research posts together receive a single grade,
which appears in your Final Grade Report because your final exam will reference one or both of your Research Posts.
This description may sound tricky, and some students like
their grade outcomes better than others, but in several semesters of such
assignments I've had no direct complaints—only questions, which you're welcome
Research Post grades are based
on readability, interest, quality of research, and learning.
reading and writing constitute excellence and competence in Literature
courses—not just covering course materials but
organizing extended analyses into compelling reading experiences. Competence in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and clarity are
taken for granted. Given time pressures, occasional careless errors
won't break your grade, but chronic errors
must be factored. Thematic unity, continuity, and transitions are essential.
- Interest: Not whether
the instructor would have chosen the
topic, but how well the report generates and sustains interest. A personal
angle is welcome for starters, but expand to wider appeal. Reinforce why
your research matters.
- Quality of research: Use what you've learned
about academic research. Consult with Neumann Library's reference
librarians. Take some chances—interview, review a relevant film,
magazine, institutional, or commercial site. Scholars in Literature and Humanities combine
work and pleasure—honoring what they must do but redeeming what they want
- Learning: The most consistently redeeming
quality in all research is the sense that the author (and at least
potentially the audience) has learned something valuable. Emphasize what you
wanted to know and why + how your research advanced or changed your
knowledge and understanding.
Possible topics (mostly from earlier Historical Presentation
assignment—see also Web Reviews on current schedule)
Impact of Bellamy’s
Looking Backward on
contemporary Progressive social movements.
Kibbutz movement in early Israel (and later developments)
Arts and Crafts Movement
Pre-Civil War utopian movements in USA (Brook Farm,
Fruitlands, Oneida Community, Shakers)
Sixties utopian movements
Communitarian Movement (Amitai Etzionai)
Virtual utopias in cyberpunk or other sf
Utopian movements of the Renaissance
Heaven as utopia (see Revelation,
Jehovah’s Witness literature)
Mormons as utopian movement?
Twin Oaks (contemporary intentional community in Virginia)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Progressive Movement
Utopian authors/texts we're not covering:
(Remember that you don't need to read the entire book (though you might read
some); rather, you would read about it. Review plot, circumstances of
composition and reception, )
News from Nowhere (1890)
A Modern Utopia (1905)
Ursula K. Le Guin,
The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia
Samuel R. Delany,
Triton (1976); later retitled
Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia
of historical and literary utopias (and dystopias)
Your topic may grow from
any Web Review
These listings are only guesses off the top of my head, which
may occasionally meet
research posts from
2009 seminar for more likely inspiration or
Additional examples from other courses:
LITR 5731 Multicultural: American
2012 Research Posts
2010 Research Posts
2008 Research Posts (American Immigrant Literature)
2006 Research Posts (American Immigrant Literature)
LITR 5831 World Literature: Colonial-Postcolonial
2011 Research Posts
2009 Research Posts
2008 Research Posts