First, re-read the Research Project Description (Links to an external site.)–you’ll need to log into Google with your Emerson email address.
It is no secret that queer literature and history is systemically erased from U.S. culture. Most often, this means not being included in things like textbooks or syllabi, or being taught only in elective (rather than required) courses. One of the best ways some academics have helped to keep queer literature alive is by teaching books by queer authors or texts that represent queer experience; many students report to me that they never read a book by a queer author or one that represents queerness until they get to college. Sadly, this has in no way been a comprehensive endeavour and many queer authors and texts go untaught, unread, and do not get reprinted; they become lost to time. This is particularly true of works by/about queer people of color. In order to do your part to preserve queer literary history, you will research an American queer author of color as the final project of this course, read one major work by them–a novel, book of poems, or memoir–and out of that research create an artifact of your choosing for a specific audience.
Project Components (see Canvas for details):
- Signup for an author and major text
- Progress meeting
- Final presentation of the artifact
- Distribution of the artifact
- Full MLA-style bibliography
The goal of this assignment is to identify an American author of color whose work you feel should be remembered, one whose work is, perhaps, endangered. You will research their life, work, and read one major text by them. You will identify a group of people you feel should know about or would likely be interested in this author and their work, but who may not have been exposed to them as yet. The artifact you create–perhaps a zine, a website, an app, a video– should be chosen because you think it will reach your intended audience. Just remember that whatever you choose to make, it should demonstrate to me that you’ve read the book you signed up for and did extensive research–this means showing me, not just telling me.
You should pull from as many types of secondary sources as you can. While many of them should be academic, you can also include things like newspaper articles, biographies, and other creative works by the author you select. I’d also recommend at least one book on the genre of the book you choose. The library is your friend!
Each week you will talk about your research project progress in your reflective vlogs such that I can tell you’re reading the book and researching it. Your paper will be on the book you choose to read by this author. This project is woven into all components of this course, so make sure you choose an author/book you’re excited about.
Then, submit a proposal that outlines the research you will undertake this semester. Written in paragraph form and, your proposal must: (My Education by Susan Choi)
1. Identify the queer author of color whose writing you will research–cite your sources for how you know they are American and queer and include those sources in your bibliography.
2. Address why they should be researched, how they fit within the goals of the course, why their work and life is something that is not only of interest to queer people but should be preserved for posterity, etc.
3. Name the literary work (novel, memoir, book of poetry) you will read by your chosen author and explain why this should be the book you read by this author. The book should have been first published in the 20th century and be written by a queer American of color. Keep in mind, you will each write about the book you selected for your paper. If you wish to deviate from these parameters–for example, to read a book published in 2015 that depicts queer folks in the 20th century–you must get approval from me before submitting your proposal. Feel free to Tweet me for quicker approval.
4. Describe the artifact/form in which you hope to disseminate your research, the audience you hope to reach, the purpose of your research, and how these things relate. To think of it another way, why do these people need this kind of artifact to learn about the topic you’ve chosen? Remember, this project isn’t for you, it’s for queer posterity (the next generation of queer people). You’re doing this research for others. How will you best reach them? And what do you want them to leave knowing about your author? This might change over the course of your research, but you should begin with an idea in mind.
5. On a new page, provide a bibliography of all the sources you consulted to make your proposal and at least 10 additional secondary sources to be read in weeks 2-5. This can be a mix of academic publications (peer-reviewed journal articles on your book, chapters from an anthology, or a book), works of history, and news articles, though the academic publications should be at least 50% of your sources. One source should most likely be on the genre of the work you’re reading. If, for example you’re reading a novel, make sure you know what the generic conventions are by reading something like The Cambridge Introduction to the Novel (Links to an external site.). If you’re reading a book of poetry, maybe something like Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook. One of the goals of the course is to understand the affordances and limitations of specific literary genres to queer liberation; knowing the generic conventions of the book you’re reading for your research project can only help you meet that learning goal!