As noted on the syllabus, the course project requires independent enterprise. You are free to choose from a wide variety of topics, so long as you can make a case both in the intial proposal and in the paper itself that it fits within the scope of the course. Please note that this is an advanced undergraduate, foundational graduate course in the humanities: our focus is on texts. Please make sure that any work you turn in for evaluation is similarly focused.

Looking for a project? There’s always 50 Hottest Urban Legends on Snopes.

On the matter of scope, please heed my counsel: I will rarely refuse someone’s proposal outright, but if I tell you I think doing the research (both collecting material and finding useful scholarly/scientific sources) will be difficult, you should consider changing the focus of your work. Please note that my feedback is not on the nature of the work itself, nor you, but always within the framework of you have X weeks to do this. Also, if you only have one or two examples of something … ask yourself, no matter how much you love it or think it’s the coolest thing ever, if it fits within the scope of the course.

In order to make it possible for you to step throught the research process so that you can get feedback in a timely fashion, the project is broken into 5 distinct tasks: initial collection, annotated bibliography, research proposal, draft (multi-part), final draft.

Collection (10%)

It is incredibly important that you work from texts/evidence/data you have on hand and not texts you think you know might be out there and you will go get them one day soon. You should have at least a dozen examples of whatever phenomenon you are interested in. You will not need to present them all in class, but you do need to have them collected in a GitHub repository and you need to have documented their provenance. (If someone wants to know from where something came, a quick glance at your notes should tell them all they need/want to know.)

Annotated Bibliography (10%)

It is only after you have collected sufficient material and begun to process it that you begin to have some idea of what the eventual scope of your project might be. In order to refine your thinking, it is time to turn to the scholarly and scientific literature to see how others have handled the matter. In many cases, you will find little that directly addresses your particular topic/collection. Rather, what you will have to do is scale your search on JSTOR, Project Muse, EBSCOhost, Arxiv, Google Scholar, and elsewhere up and down until you begin to find some results.

This is usually the best time to reach out to classmates as well as to your humble course instructor. You should have at least a half dozen sources here that we have not encountered in class readings — but maybe they were mentioned or maybe they are on the syllabus — that might be useful. You are not, by listing them here, committing yourself to using them. Each entry should be properly formatted and should be followed by a short paragraph (1-3 sentences) that summarizes the focus of the source and its possible applicability to your project. (Please note that skimming is encouraged during this stage.)

Research Proposal (10%)

The research proposal is a short document of 250+ words in which you spell out what you think/hope the object/topic/focus of your project is going to be, what your interest is, and why it is within the scope of a consideration of folklore in general and legendry in particular. If you already have examples, provide your reader with a clear description in a sentence. If you have multiple examples, indicate to your reader how many and what kind of variation and consistency you have already detected. If you have already considered a couple of scholarly/scientific sources, mention them. (Citations may be included and are outside the overall word count.) Longer is better because the more writing you do early on the better. (As in better grade.)

All proposals will be accompanied by a three-minute presentation to the class: check out the Center for New American Security’s Pitch 2022 Competition.

Drafts (25%)

Drafting is so important that you get full points just for submitting the drafts on time and of reasonable effort and quality. The first thing you turn in as a body paragraph, then a handful of body paragraphs, then something approaching a complete draft.

Final Draft (50%)

Please make sure as you wrap up work on your project that you proofread and copy edit and you do not leave any typos, mechanical, or revision artifacts in your final draft of 2500+ words. Make sure at least one other person has read the final draft before you ask your instructor to read it.