Seminar Paper Proposal Assignment

ENGL 407
Fall 2012
Seminar Paper Proposal
“Words — so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they
become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” –Hawthorne, The American Notebooks
In order to get you on the right track for your seminar paper, you will hand in a paper proposal.
Your proposal should have four sections:
1) Introduction: Provide a brief explanation of your topic and what you intend to argue. Of
course, your ultimate argument will almost certainly change, but what you want to do
here is think about what you might argue—your initial thoughts and hypotheses about
your topic. (A decent-sized paragraph will do here).
2) Critical positioning: Discuss why you are interested in your topic. Then discuss what
kind of work has already been done on this topic (show me that you’ve done some
research) and how you see your research fitting in. In other words, what contribution will
your paper make to the critical conversation? (Two to four full paragraphs should be
3) Preview of your structure and research plan: How do you plan to structure your
paper? What are your plans for researching and writing this paper? What challenges do
you anticipate facing as you work on it? (A good paragraph or two should be enough).
4) List of Sources and Annotated Bibliography: Find at least ten sources that you might
use for your paper. For five of them, write a short annotation (two decent paragraphs per
entry, similar to those you will write/have written for your cultural/historical
presentation). In your annotations, provide a brief summary of the source and then
analyze it and explain how you might use it in your paper. Be sure to provide citations to
at least ten sources, but remember you only need to provide annotations for five. No
recycling of annotations from your presentations. (You can recycle citations, just not
annotations. In other words, your five annotated sources must be new.)
After you complete your proposals, I’ll give you some written feedback on them and we will
schedule individual conferences to discuss your work. At any step along the way, though, I
encourage you to stop by and see me if you have questions on anything from finding a topic to
finding sources to structuring your paper.
Length and Formatting: You’ll need at least 4 full pages, double-spaced; typed in a reasonable
font (Times New Roman 12 pt. or Arial 11 pt.); one-inch margins all around; no extra spaces
between paragraphs; your name, the course title, the instructor’s name, and the date in the upper
left-hand corner of the paper's first page; page numbers should appear on the upper right-hand
corner of each page. Additionally, section four should contain proper MLA citations.
Proposals are due in class on Monday, November 12.