Research Posts (2 installments + review
in final exam)
1st Research Post
due 11 October
2nd Research Post due
15 November (or before)
Research and write two “adventures
/ experiments in research.”
exercises must be relevant to our subject matter but also
reflect your personal and professional interests.
Content & Organization: Posts
are reports, not essays.
They should be interesting and readable, but they are
not analyses of literary
texts. Rather, they are explanations of your
research findings in a subject area
Relate your research to Literature, even if only by reviewing the texts
you consult, but
content options include history, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, etc.
Your topic may grow from a course
text or author, a Web Review, a term or theory mentioned in the course
or another student's presentation, or relevant material from other courses
or personal reading.
Your second post may resume the
same content as your first posting, so that your two posts relate to,
build on, or vary each other--or they may be distinct subjects.
- The only absolute stipulation for content is
that the subject must have something to do with colonial or postcolonial
literature, history, or theory.
If you choose Research Posts for
your Research Plan, your final
exam will summarize and assess these research experiments as part of your
overall learning experience.
Most typical mistake:
Students will want to write a personal analysis of texts we're studying or
might study. That approach is an essay, not a report. Some primary research
may be involved, but the report requires secondary research.
Length: at least 4 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 posting.
information may be included in paragraphs or more
completely in listings at end of posting.
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. (See
for your entry that will serve as a web heading or link. This title should
indicate the 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 source or
background of your interest; what you 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.
Grading schedule: Grades for research postings are not returned until the
Instead of a grade and extended
review for your first post, on receipt of your submission I will send a brief email summarizing
my 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
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
Grading standards: Research Post grades are based
on readability, interest, quality of research, and learning.
reading and writing distinguishes excellence and competence in Literature
courses--not just covering course materials but
organizing extended analyses into compelling essays. 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 I would have chosen the
topic, but how well the report generates and sustains interest. A personal
angle is welcome for starters, but develop for wider appeal.
- Quality of research: Use what you've learned
about academic research. Consult with Neumann Library's reference
librarians. But also take some chances--interview, review a relevant film,
magazine, 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.
Additional examples from other courses:
Research Posts 2008 (American Immigrant Literature)
Research Posts 2006 (American Immigrant Literature)
The quickest, surest way to get a sense of possible topics is
to review our seminar's Model Assignments
to see what previous students chose as subjects. You may develop a
previously-chosen topic, and you may use earlier research posts or projects as
Some generic topics:
- An author associated with colonial or postcolonial
- A defining historical event or movement relevant to
colonial or postcolonial history
- Other artistic, literary, or cultural movements associated
with colonial-postcolonial experience
- Secondary critical research concerning a work, author, or
issue related to our subject. (You would find several critical articles or books
relevant to your interest, then summarize what you gained or learned from
- Past student work for the course, or theses concerning
colonial or postcolonial texts:
Above all, remember your topics can change
and are almost expected to do so in light of your research. The point is to find
the most interesting and applicable data and share the sense of adventure and
discovery with your reader.
Also remember that, if your first research post feels daunting
or beyond your abilities, you can switch to a research
paper or a research journal by discussing the change with the