LITR 5831 World / Multicultural Literature


Research Options

Research Project: Essay or Journal


Model Assignments

A research project may be either

a 10-12 page research essay on a colonial-postcolonial theme and text(s)


a research journal on a general topic relating to colonial-postcolonial issues, authors, or texts

Either option is due by email by Sunday 15 November.

Research Essay option

  • The paper's assigned length is the equivalent 12 to 20 pages, double-spaced—though it need not be double-spaced when you submit it. 

  • Follow MLA documentation style.

  • Refer to at least five critical, theoretical, or historical (i. e., secondary) sources. 

  • Your essay should center on one or two primary texts in dialogue with each other; primary texts are usually  drawn from course readings, but you may propose an outside text.

  • The topic is your choice but must have a direct relevance to the course (see below). Texts may be chosen from within or beyond the course readings, but if all the texts are from outside the course, their relevance should be clear.

Essay Topics: In choosing and developing a topic, students generally start either with a text or with an idea.

  • If interested in a text or two but unsure how to develop a topic, try focusing on a problem or issue from the objectives or from postcolonial theory, either cultural or literary.

  • How is the problem or issue expressed, and in what ways do the text and/or its characters attempt to resolve it, and with what success? What insight into culture and literature does the text develop?

  • For secondary sources, try to find criticism of the particular texts involved so that you can build on ideas previously established.

  • If you are starting with an idea, you may want to find a theoretical text that deals with the idea for the sake of development. Then find texts in or beyond the course that develop the idea.

  • As another subject option, review the course objectives. You are not expected to duplicate ideas developed in lecture and discussion as you would for an exam, but you may use them as background or as launching points.

  • You may continue to develop the topics started in your midterm. Central ideas will demonstrate further development and research.

Research Journal option:

Purpose: Students will extend their range of knowledge or familiarity with the field of colonial and postcolonial literature. In brief, the journal might answer the question, "What do I want to know about this field of study, and in what types of sources or references do I find this knowledge most accessible."

Length: Approximately 10-12 pages, though longer submissions are acceptable. Content: Specific suggestions are given below, but overall the journal should demonstrate that you have, however briefly or tentatively, initiated research in several relevant areas of colonial and postcolonial literature.

Quality: Though time pressures will be considered, you should be careful not to let the label of "journal" make you lazy. All your writings should be readable and interesting, and none should look like first drafts.

Coherence: A journal provides opportunities for variety in learning, but students should look for opportunities to organize their diverse sources into larger themes according to the purposes of the assignment. The introduction and conclusion provide one opportunity for you to generalize on your learning. The final exam will provide another.

Nature of research: Given the course's time constraints, much if not most research may be "background"--i. e., encyclopedias, handbooks, other reference works, web sites.

Research journal--suggested contents: (page suggestions are for double-spaced print)

(Aside from the introduction and conclusion, all the numbers and items below are variable according to your interests and findings.)

Introduction (required): rationale: what you wanted to learn and how; preview contents, general themes, choices (1-1 & 1/2 pages)

  • Review of two student papers from previous courses on webpage. (2-3 paragraphs each)

  • Two reviews of scholarly reviews of a scholarly text (or two) concerning colonial or postcolonial literature or one or more authors within this field of study. (2-3 paragraphs each)

  • Review of 2-3 websites (1-2 paragraphs on each site?)

  • Investigation of a term or theory associated with postcolonial studies

  • Historical report on a major event or series of events in colonial or postcolonial history. (1-2 pages)

  • Biographical report plus primary and secondary bibliography on a major postcolonial author (2-3 pages)

  • You may suggest other possible items for inclusion in your journal.

Conclusion: In terms either of variety, priority, or unity, what have you learned from the gathering of your journal? Where might this knowledge take your studies or your teaching? What new issues have been introduced that you might like to study next? (2-3 pages)

Other possible research projects: These options are available primarily for students with a focused research goal that is compatible with the course.

  • A presentation-length paper on a subject relevant to colonial / postcolonial literature. Requirements:

    • Paper proposal (1-2 pages--may be addressed to a real or fictional conference; Default: UHCL Student Research Conference)

    • Approximately 7-10 pages long.

    • In content, a draft of the kind of paper you might present at a research conference.

    • If unfamiliar with conferences & presentations, confer with instructor.