All students taking the course will complete the following:

  • Bi-weekly reading reflections on our course blog + bi-weekly responses to other students’ reflections
  • Discussion Questions (on our course blogs)
  • Research Project: The Research Behind the Lecture (including a proposal, an annotated bibliography, a draft, and a revised essay)

Course Blog
Discussion Questions: Each week, one or two students will two discussion questions about the assigned reading to our course blog–by Saturday of that week. At least one of these questions should focus on how the particular genre or discipline of the reading in question shapes the kind of knowledge it produces. (We’ll talk about what this means and how it will work in class.) When possible, it’s a good idea to make connections to other texts we’ve read or to bring in outside material related to the week’s reading. Students who have posted discussion questions will help initiate that week’s discussion by introducing and contextualizing their posted questions.

Reading Responses and Comments: In addition, half the students in the course will post reading responses each week–by Sunday of that week. The other half post comments in response to at least two of these posts–before class on Tuesday. (Students who post discussion questions for that week are exempt from posting responses and comments.)

Blog assighnents should demonstrate engagement, imagination, and critical thought, but they need not be particularly formal or long. When it makes sense, it’s a good idea to include direct quotations from the texts discussed. It’s also a good idea to explore moments of confusion or ambiguity and make to connections to other texts. Comments should be respectful responses, but they should also be probing and critical. I will divide you into two groups after the first class meeting and add the list of students assigned to post questions each week to the course calendar.

Research Projects
Your job is to make a contribution to an online anthology of essays–defined broadly to include nontraditional forms and multimedia formats.

Our anthnology will be a multidisciplinary anthology focusing on contemporary research on the origins, functions, meanings, and representations of selfhood. We’ll come up with a title together. The idea will be to model the process of academic publication. You might decide to write an essay in one of the following genres:

1.  Literature Reviews. A literature review should emphasize synthesis and focus on a particular genre or a narrow set of  questions animating research on selfhood in a single discipline or multiple disciplines. For example, a literature review might focus on a recent group of graphic memoirs; or trade books written by neuroscientists; or recent publications on the relationship between social media and identity published in a variety of fields (e.g., media studies, philosophy, and cognitive science); or testimonials by people who have experienced illuminating phenomenologies of the self (e.g., hearing voices, phantom limb syndrome, seizures, or autism); or the latest research in a particular field (e.g., narrative psychology, neuropsychoanalysis, or digital humanities). Literature reviews should make a sustained argument about the implications of or relationships among the materials they survey. 

2. Critiques. A critique essay should focus on the implications of influential texts–books, online lectures (e.g., Ted Talks), published articles, films or blogs–that represent questions about selfhood for a broad audience. Critique essays should evaluate the relationship between the rhetoric and evidence in a given text, contextualizing its claims by examining them in relation to scholarly research and debates in the field of inquiry they represent.

3. Synthesis or “crossbreeding” essays. These are that synthesize research in two texts or fields that deal with similar questions but don’t address or speak to each other explicitly.

4. Dialogues. These are fictionalized dramatic dialogues between two or more existing thinkers interested in a similar topic or set of research questions. Dialogues must be accompanied by a scholarly preface or afterword.

5. Video lecture, Podcast, or Prezi. You may propose to present your research project as a video lecture, podcast, or Prezi–if you think it would work well in one of these media and you can use the relevant technology effectively.

6. Alternate proposals. If you have another idea, you can propose it to me–and to the group. .

Essays should be 5,000 – 7,500 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references. They should follow the citation style appropriate for a given discipline (e.g., MLA for the humanities; APA for psychology or the social sciences; MLA or Chicago for multidisciplinary projects).

The Writing Process

1. Proposals.
In two or three paragraphs, your proposal should introduce your topic, identify your genre, and articulate the intellectual or scholarly motives for the project. (See Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay” on motive.) Your proposal might include a hypothesis, but that’s not necessary. You should include a list of texts you will examine in the project. You’ll submit a draft of your proposal to me and to your writing group (via email). We’ll workshop these proposals in class. Based on the feedback you receive, you’ll revise and submit your final proposal to me.

2. Annotated Bibliographies. Your annotated bibliography should include a list of works cited, formatted according to the citation style you will use in your essay, and a short paragraph for each citation. These short paragraphs should explain what role(s) the text cited will play in the essay. They should be written to persuade readers that each text belongs in the project. Where possible, you should identify which of Mark Gaipa’s techniques you might use when working with a given source. You will bring drafts of your annotated bibliographies . We’ll workshop them in class, and you’ll send a final version to me .

3. Drafts. You’ll send a draft of your research project to your writing group and to me. Please include a 100-150 word abstract to be used on the table of contents page for our online anthology. We will workshop your drafts in class.

4. You will post the final version of your research project, including your abstract, to our anthology page, at the end of the semester.

Writing Groups
During the second half of the semester, you will be assigned to a writing group. You will complete your research projects in stages: proposal, annotated bibliography, draft, and revision. Members of each writing group will read each other’s drafts and offer feedback at each of these stages.

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