Week 13 blog prompt: Paper Proposal

As of this morning, y’all have access to the Paper 3 assignment prompt, which asks you to come up with an original argument about a text or texts we’ve studied in class.

In preparation for this, I’m asking you this week to:

1. write a brief outline of what you’re thinking about writing your paper about.

2. in the comments, offer feedback to at least one other person about their proposal.

“Hmmm, what if I …?”

Details below the cut …

Paper proposal

Your paper proposal should be about a paragraph long and should outline the text or texts you anticipate working with, what question you want to explore or what argument you think you’ll make, and how you plan to go about answering your question or supporting your point. Depending on where you’re at, you may feel comfortable giving some examples of sections in the text/s you want to discuss, or you may want to talk in broad strokes for now with a view to narrowing your topic later.

Remember, a paper proposal is not a contract. You are incredibly early in your writing process at the moment (the ‘read the prompt and think about it’ stage), so I expect that your thoughts will be tentative and unformed. That’s OK! The goal here is for you to get them written out and organised so that you can assess them, and to gain feedback and other ideas from your peers to help you refine and further your project. If you have multiple ideas on the burners, feel free to lay out more than one and ask for advice.

Speaking of feedback …


I know we took them away by mutual agreement after our mid-semester check-in, but I’m declaring an exception to that rule and asking that everyone post feedback for at least one other person in response to the paper proposals this week. The idea here is that everyone gets at least one note from someone else about their project! You should definitely go through and look for posts that don’t have any comments attached. Your feedback should be designed to help the author refine and further their project.

Good feedback that helps people … “I really like your take on x in The Female Man; it seems like this comes up again in The Matter of Seggri and maybe you could compare and contrast since you’re worried about not having enough material.” “Wow! You have so many great ideas! But it seems like too many to do well. What if you just did a and d, which seem to connect closely in such-and-such a way, and let b, c and e go?” “Hey! I’m also working on that! Have you read such-and-such a secondary source? I think it’d really illuminate your second question.”

Bad feedback that doesn’t help … “OMG THIS IS AWESOME” (like that’s nice and all, but doesn’t give your reviewee anything to work with); “Your point is interesting, but I think my theory is better and you should do that”  (it’s unreasonable to fault people for not doing something they didn’t set out to do); “I don’t understand anything you’ve said” (this last one is a legit way to feel, but a) try and b) ask specific questions to help you understand and give the proposer an opportunity to clarify!)


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