Early African American Literature Proposal

EN 378 Course Project Instructions

Project Points:  100 for proposal + 300 for completed project = 400 total (30% of semester grade)

Everyone must choose, design, create, and submit a class project that must concentrate on some relevant aspect of early African-American literature or culture that we’re studying in this class for the period between the 1400s and 1905.  All projects require a minimum of 10 relevant, timely, scholarly/professional sources in a responsible mix of primary and contextual materials.  You must also quote or paraphrase from all 10 sources within the written portion of your project, following MLA rules for in-text citations, Works Cited and Bibliography entries, and, if relevant to you, endnotes/footnotes.   

All students must use the MLA Style guide, 8th edition (2016) within all steps of the course project.

SEE EN 378 Syllabus pages 3–4 for basic project ideas.

STEP 1A.  Read the “Subject Ideas” handout and the syllabus and decide what you’d like to do for your project.  Feel free to bat around ideas with me! 

B.  Research to find at least 7 real sources that you can use to begin learning about your subject.  A basic Google search isn’t research!  Use Olson Library’s online search box for the sources that you’ll really want to use and for links to trusted databases. The Subject guides are also good ways to find information.  Ask for help if you need it!  Lots of cool stuff is out there, as you can see by the links in our class schedule!

Evaluating Internet Sources:  https://lib.nmu.edu/help/resource-guides/subject-guide/evaluating-internet-sources

Subject Guides:  https://lib.nmu.edu/help/resource-guides/subject-guide

English Language and Literature Resource Guidehttps://lib.nmu.edu/help/resource-guides/subject-guide/english-language-and-literature

                        See Primary Sources tab for Wright American Fiction, Hathi Trust Digital Library, Internet Archive, etc.

Gender and Sexuality Studies Databases:   https://lib.nmu.edu/help/resource-guides/subject-guide/gender-sexuality-studies#tab-1870-2

Languages, Literatures, and International Studies Research Tools:                                                                      https://lib.nmu.edu/help/resource-guides/subject-guide/languages-literatures-and-international-studies#tab-1131-5    Includes Oxford Reference Online, The Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center, The New York Public Library Picture Collection Online, etc.

Library of Congress Digitized Newspapers, 1789–1963:  https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

C.  Once you’ve collected 7 or more sources, type a bibliography formatted in MLA style, 8th edition, with full, alphabetized citations for all of your sources.  It’s a bibliography at this stage, not a works cited, because you aren’t citing any works in your proposal.  Once you’ve completed your project, you’ll have cited all 10 of your sources in a written segment, which will then require a complete works cited section. That is, now that you’ve cited all your sources, your bibliography is called a works cited.

D.  Then type a brief proposal (1–3 paragraphs) that explicitly states your research subject, your research method(s), and the form in which you’ll create and present your project to me at the end of the semester (e.g., paper submitted on EduCat, CD, DVD, flash drive, hyperlink to online video, ceramic vase, oil painting, game board w/questions and game pieces, specific prepared foods, etc.). Give your proposal a title that summarizes your idea:  e. g., “Painting Seneca Village: Recovering Black Lives in Central Park.”  Include your bibliography with this proposal. Together, these two documents allow us both to see the status of appropriate materials for your intended research.  You may revise this proposal and bibliography to regain lost points.

STEP 2:  Once your project proposal is approved, you need to procure and read/watch/listen to a minimum of 10 relevant scholarly sources.  Work on your project.  Get help with MLA entries.  Create new entries for new sources.

STEP 3:  Your final step is to complete and submit your course projectT, Nov. 24

FAQs Answered

Number of Required Sources for All ProjectsMinimum of 10 relevant, timely, scholarly/professional sources.  You’ll quote or paraphrase from all of them in the written portion of your project.  Your grade plummets if you don’t have 10 sources in the written portion of your project and in your works cited section.

Definition of Scholarly:  Deriving from serious academic study by academic professionals.  You should be able to identify the authors’ college or university affiliation in “About the Author” journal or book sections or by searching online using the authors’ names.  Typically, scholarly sources incorporate footnotes, endnotes, and/or references.  Many professional sources aren’t scholarly but are well-researched, and they count as well.   If you’re uncertain about your sources, ask me!!!!!

Books, book chapters, journal articles, interviews, images (including illustrations, graphs, maps, charts, photographs, etc.), all online materials, and all other sources must have been published and/or distributed by reputable academic or mainstream publishers.  Websites created and maintained by credentialed scholars at universities, colleges, and museums are considered scholarly.

Relevant, Appropriate Sources That Aren’t Necessarily Scholarly:  If you’re learning to make something that you’ve never done before, it’s relevant and appropriate to use how-to videos in your research, each of which would be a source.  Students have used how-to videos on knitting, sewing, quilting, creating computer games, and constructing a cigar-box guitar.  You’re still responsible for finding how-to videos made by professionals or very knowledgeable groups or individuals.

Unacceptable Sources:  Abstracts/summaries of books, articles, etc.; Wikipedia.com; some sixth-grader’s paper found online; online teachers’ lessons and units; someone else’s paper, project, etc.; others to be announced

Note on Reviews:  Twentieth- and twenty-first-century reviews of books, movies, TV episodes, theatre productions,etc., are appropriate sources in only a few cases.  They cannot, and do not, take the place of professional literary, cultural, or historical contextual sources that you need to research your topic.

Requirements Specified by Project Types  

For research papers, critical analyses, close literary interpretations:  Turn in required 12–15 pages of essay/analysis/interpretation + Works Cited section.  The body of your paper must be 12 pages minimum.  If you can’t write 12 pages, don’t choose this option.  Your grade will plummet w/each missing page.

Artistic projects, teaching units, and 20-minute+ presentations require you to include a 5–6-page typed process paper + Works Cited section.  When writing the process paper, please follow the instructions on the process-paper handout. 

For artistic projects:   Turn in piece + required process paper that includes: 

  • the reason(s) for choosing your specific medium;
  • the reason(s) for choosing specific components of your projects (e.g., colors, shapes, sizes, material, characters, actors, musical selections, subjects, game pieces and questions, locations, etc., in your project);
  • the reason(s) for arranging components (color, space, light, sound, sets, blocking, game segments, sentences, chapters, characters, etc.) in a specific design to communicate certain ideas/messages about your subject.  Basically, you are telling me how you are using art to represent your subject to yourself and to your audience.  If you are trying to manipulate the audience in a certain way—say, to provoke anger or to elicit cries of wonder—please discuss how your art attempts to do so.  

For teaching unitsTurn in unit that contains a minimum of 20 pages of original teaching material + required process paper. 

For presentations, which must be 20 minutes or longer:   Give presentation to class/submit videotape, podcast, etc.  Turn in required process paper + files of PowerPoint slides or presentation outline/notes, if used. 

You may ask to teach or present for more than 20 minutes.  Please let me know in your proposal the length of time that you think would work best for the project you have in mind.

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