Select an artifact (primary source) related to our cycle theme of Empire and Its Ruins. Your artifact must be approved by your seminar instructor. After conducting extensive scholarly research on the artifact, as well as its maker and context, compose an expository academic essay that makes an argument about your artifact’s humanistic significance.
As part of the process, you will produce a series of prewriting, bibliographic, and presentation components. These may include a revised annotated bibliography, prospectus, abstract, and in-class or online presentation as well as several stages of working draft prior to the final project. These process-writing components are required and must be completed in the order assigned by your seminar instructor.
Your final project must incorporate at least 5 scholarly, peer-reviewed books or articles. Your final paper should be 8–12 pages (between 2000–3500 words). In sum, the research project will be worth 50% of your writing grade. Your seminar instructor will determine how credit for prewriting and research components is allocated in your section.
Note: Some seminar instructors will give you the option of producing a multimedia project or of creating your own artifact that engages the theme of Empire and Its Ruins. Please note that these versions of the assignment still require extensive research and writing. Consult your seminar instructor directly for more information about the process and requirements if a multimedia or creative alternative is of interest.
- Reinforce and hone skills acquired to date in Humanities Core: to make specific, complex and arguable claims, compose rhetorically persuasive introductions and conclusions, present cohesive paragraphs with well-selected and well-contextualized evidence from primary and scholarly secondary sources, and develop organic warrants and transitions that show the progress of ideas over time
- Adopt the appropriate stance, style, and genre conventions of humanistic research-based writing as well as the methodology/methodologies relevant to the chosen primary source (e.g., cultural/ethnic studies, literary, visual, filmic, historical, and/or philosophical analysis)
- Demonstrate the capacity to critically read and assess primary and secondary sources across a variety of genres and media
- Demonstrate advanced information literacy skills by locating, evaluating, and integrating information gathered from multiple sources (the university library, online academic databases, and specialized archival collections) into a research project
- Develop digital literacy and transferable technical skills through the multimodal presentation of research findings
- Demonstrate flexible strategies for actively generating, revising, editing, and proofreading drafts while also reflecting on the process of writing itself
Before you begin brainstorming for this assignment, make sure you have read the whole of the Humanities Core Writer’s Handbook, including:
- Morse, Susan and Larisa Castillo. “Developing Your Research Project.” Humanities Core Writer’s Handbook, edited by Larisa Castillo and Tamara Beauchamp, XanEdu, 2018, 141–145.
The Writing Process
In this capstone essay, you will draw on the interpretation and research skills you have learned this year to direct a humanistic research project focused on the intersection of your personal interests with the theme of empire and its ruins.
In order to select a topic that will generate a complex, detailed, argumentative claim (rather than a general survey or overview of a context), we ask you to focus your project on a specific artifact. An artifact is a primary source that creates a particular meaning in a specific cultural context. In researching your artifact, you will regularly ask research questions about how and why your artifact creates the meaning it does and for what audiences it resonates. Your artifact can be of virtually any medium or genre: for example, a novel, film, poem, diary, newspaper article, interview transcript, recorded speech, work of visual art, stage drama, piece of music, dance performance, video game, advertising campaign, political manifesto, or piece of ephemera. For more information, you can consult the UCI Libraries Humanities Core Guide to Primary Sources. Anticipate working closely with your seminar instructor and brainstorming extensively about multiple artifacts before you settle on your final topic. It is also helpful to look to award-winning papers from last year, as they represent a wide range of topics and analytic approaches. The past HumCore students who authored these papers will also present on their research experiences on Friday, April 26 from 9-12 p.m. in the UROP Symposium.
The research questions you pose about your artifact can be equally varied, driven by any humanistic discipline or methodology—or, potentially, by an interdisciplinary perspective. You will want to select an artifact that allows you to conduct research and place your claims in conversation with other scholars. Plan on surveying the scholarly landscape prior to definitively deciding upon your artifact. This does not mean that other scholars will have necessarily written about your specific artifact; however, it does mean that you should seek out an artifact situated in a field about which there is scholarly discussion and debate. You should explore numerous scholarly databases online—especially those relevant to the humanistic methodologies and frameworks you intend to employ—as well as the stacks at UCI Libraries. For more information, please consult the UCI Libraries Humanities Core Guide to Research Resources for this project.
The Writer’s Handbook chapter “Developing Your Research Project” outlines your research and composition process and helps you understand the relation between your many research tasks. Regardless of your approach, try to choose something about which you are passionately interested, as you will be immersed in your topic for much of this quarter. In brainstorming a topic, it can be useful to reexamine your blog posts in Humanities Core to this point and to look for topical or methodological foci that emerge over time. In fact, some seminar instructors will encourage you to direct your blogging this quarter toward the research process as you explore potential topics, engage with multiple scholarly perspectives, and ultimately present your findings to a larger public. In blog posts or static pages on your website, you may want to enhance the presentation of your research findings with multimodal elements. We provide a guide to Multimedia Digital Tools, which includes no-cost software, web apps, and online services for audio, video, and image editing, mapping, and timelines. As part of the project, your seminar instructor may require you to give a presentation to your classmates; if so, please consult Giovanna Fogli’s guide to How to Prepare and Deliver an Oral Presentation.