Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Research and Writing Assignment 2

Honors English 298
Washington State University
Delahoyde — Fall 2014

Multi-Disciplinary Research Essay

This assignment directs you towards producing a small-scale, laser-focused version of the type of longer research essay with which the semester will culminate. The 4-to-5-page essay will illuminate a topic that resides in and can be approached by multiple angles which must include at least one component or inclusion from the arts and humanities. You should almost certainly be focused on primary-source material, not relying on secondary sources to be feeding you the pre-chewed topic. (That’s one of the many problems with “issue” essays.)

Through September, in addition to adjusting our frame of mind with the help of Ballinger’s The Curious Researcher and seeing examples of successful multi-disciplinary research projects, we will be brainstorming for dozens of potential ideas, or topics. Eventually you will need to latch onto one. Since the nature of the topic must involve you in a number of disciplinary fields — film studies, music, political history, botany, psychology, literature, medicine, popular culture, or practically any other field of scholarship — I make no specific demands concerning the nature of the research nor the types or number of resources — simply that the Works Consulted list should be impressive.

Aim for the essay itself to be exceptionally impressive too. The information you retrieve is obviously already available. How well you craft this raw material within your own distinctive, even unique, perspective will largely determine the mediocrity or success of your work.

Ultimately, this can be a stand-alone project, a completed entity on its own, in which case you will select a different subject for the final longer research essay due late in the semester. Or, this may serve as a shorter but independent version of a longer mega-project you devote your entire semester to. Do not delude yourself, though, into thinking of this essay as a convenient half-baked draft that will save you any amount of total effort over the course of the semester; demands will be higher in the end if you stick with the one idea.

Monday, 6 October 2014 — 10:10 am.


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