HUM 2211H Assignment 2

Here's what it says in the syllabus about this assignment:

Developing Important Questions: (15%, Due Nov. 10) Take three of the questions you have written about. In 750-1000 words (please include a word count), expand the research on those questions. Do some background reading to determine what has been written about the questions.

It is important to note that I am asking for 750-1000 words for each of the three questions you write about, not for all three. It's also worth noting that 750 words is basically 3 typed double space pages, which is not very much. What am I asking for in this assignment? The following, at least:

1. Further development of the question that you are working with. This will almost necessarily involve you rewriting it or rethinking it. You may have to think about what kind of a question it is, as well. Is it a question that will require the tools of the historian? Or maybe the philosopher? Maybe some other discipline? Humanities uses the tools of various disciplines, but you have to know what they are. If, for example, you ask the question
"Why did perspective develop in painting at the time it did and not earlier?", you could be asking one of several different questions, each of which would be answered in a very different manner:

You can probably see that the initial question, which seemed fairly clear, actually could be many different questions, each of which needs to be addressed quite differently. If you don't specify which question you are really asking, you will end up just including elements from several of these questions, and not really doing a very thorough job on any of them.

You might also need to narrow the question down. You might have to make clear just what you will not be addressing in this paper, given the space you have available to write. Believe it or not, you can write more on a focussed and narrow question than a broad, vague one.

2. A provisional answer to your question. That's your thesis. You may find that once you do more research, your thesis will be different than you state now. That's fine - good research goes where the evidence leads. But without an educated guess as to what you think might turn up, it is hard to begin choosing what evidence will be relevant.

3. A plan of action for research. That doesn't mean that I want a timetable of research, but rather the means you will use to answer the question. What will constitute an adequate answer to the question you ask? Are there sub-questions, or smaller issues, that will have to be addressed, so that your main question will be adequately answered?

4. Research sources. What will be required to answer this question? Are there significant books or articles that will help? Please make sure they are scholarly books and articles. You can make a few comments on each of the sources to make clear as to how you think it will be relevant to the project.

What am I
not asking for:

1. I am not asking you to actually write the paper at this point. I don't want to see the paper, but rather the plan for research on the paper, along with some initial resources. The reason is that I want you to have some time to think about your plan and do a bit of reading.

More questions? We've talked about some of this in class already, and you can also ask me or email me if you have further questions.