Biographical Research Project
You have a great deal of freedom to pick your subject: someone in art, politics, biography, religion, exploration, science, literature, economics, philosophy, business, etc. The only restrictions are that it must substantially concern Japan since 1700, and must be based on an autobiography or scholarly biography.
There will be several assignments which help you prepare for and develop your material, including a proposal, an annotated bibliography and outline, a draft, and, at long last, the final paper, a 2000-3000 word essay on a figure in Japanese history.The project is worth 20% of your course grade.
At each stage of this project, you will be expected to turn in the assignments in a timely fashion and to share your plans, findings, etc., to your classmates on the assigned days. This is a requirement of the class. Your presentations will not be graded, but will constitute a portion of your grade.
Plagiarism is the use of the words or ideas of another person without proper acknowledgement. Plagiarism is intellectual theft; in an educational setting it is particularly repugnant. Plagiarism in my courses will be punished. It’s simple: Anytime you copy words into your own work, you must clearly mark them and acknowledge the source of those words. Anytime you use someone else’s ideas, you must admit it. There are three options: put it in quotation marks and footnote; paraphrase and footnote; or be original. If you have any questions or any concerns about citation format or necessity, ask someone who knows what they’re doing.
Research Project Schedule & Due Dates
Identify possible subjects, meet with instructor: whenever
You’re not actually required to meet with me, but I highly recommend it if you have questions about the suitability of your topic, the scale of the essay, resources, etc. My office hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 10-12, and Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10-11 and 1-2, but I can be available other times as needed, and my email box (firstname.lastname@example.org) is always open.
Proposal (1 page): 3/27 (F)
A quick description of the person you will be investigating, the biography or autobiography you have found, and short discussion of what specifically you want to write about. At this point I still reserve the right to say “no” if the topic is too big, too small, or otherwise inappropriate.
Annotated Scholarly Bibliography and Outline: 4/10 (F)
Library work! You must find at least three solid references — scholarly monographs or journal articles, not googled web pages – in addition to any relevant course materials, and you must be able to explain how they will be useful to you. That’s the “annotated” part: “Annotation” means short commentaries making it clear to your readers the value of the sources. The library catalog and digital databases are good, but don’t forget to go into the library and look around.
An outline is a more detailed schematic description of a project, broken down into sections, points, ideas and sources. It should reference your bibliographic findings, and should give the reader a clear sense of the argument you will be pursuing.
Draft of essay (2000+ words): 4/24 (F)
This is draft, but it should be substantially complete. If there are sections which are missing, or which still need work, you should make note of that, so I can focus my feedback on things you may have missed.
Presentation 5/1 (F)
You will do a short, approximately 10 minute presentation of your subject to the class, focusing on the historical context and value of the question you are writing about.
Final Draft (2000-3000 words) due. 5/4 (M)
This is the finished product: thesis, argument, conclusion, citations (bibliography, too, though that doesn’t count for word count). It should be double-spaced, with reasonable margins, with good spelling, grammar, format, and structure.