Now that we have focused on questions of American identity and inclusiveness through America is in the Heart, it is time for you to develop an individual research project that you will focus on for the remainder of the semester. You are free to choose your topic, but it must clearly relate to the course theme, “Rereading America.” Below are several (though by no means all!) categories of research topics to help you get started:
We will be using your research proposal during this semester to help you stay focused as you work on your research that will culminate in your final paper. Proposals often have a funnel shape and a “movement” that goes from very broad to very focused. The proposal should go from a very broad range of ideas to a much more specific, single research idea at the end.
Beginning of Proposal (Broad ideas)
End of Proposal (focused topic)
The proposal should be made up of 4 paragraphs and be roughly 2 pages in length. The paragraph breakdown should be as follows:
1) Introduce your topic. Your first paragraph provides some basic background to your topic and establishes some context. The key here is to be brief! You are not writing an informational paper. Focus your introduction on the straightforward journalistic questions: who, what, where, why, and how.
2) Raise your specific research focus. Now you can start moving to the more focused area that motivates your research. What do you intend to find out or look into? The argument doesn’t come until the last paper, so do not take a stand in this paragraph, only offer to explore the various aspects of the topic but less broadly than taking up too large a topic than cannot be covered in a 6-7 page paper. This paragraph should be narrower that your previous paragraph. For instance, if your first paragraph introduced the “immigrant rights in America” your second paragraph might discuss “the history and debates over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”
3) Discuss why research is significant. Why is this research important? You bring yourself into the third paragraph bit, explaining what attracted you this topic to begin with. The more you have a sense of what your research will accomplish, the clearer your focus will be. Do you want to contribute to our historical understanding of a topic? Do you wish to make an argument about an ongoing debate? Do you want to analyze your topic through a cultural form (movie, book, musical trend, etc.)?
4) Specify the type of sources and information you want to find. In your last paragraph, describe what kind of information you hope to find. Do you need historical background? Different viewpoints on your topic? Data or statistics? Imagine what type of sources will best help you find this information. Biographies? Debates about your topic?
Over the last few decades ‘culture’ has become frequently used to denote changing tastes and popularity in appreciation of interests such as music, art, theatre. As noted by Peter Goodall the word ’culture’ is consistently made use of by journalists and politicians, and especially by people studying within the Humanities (Goodall, 1995). The same author also notes that the word ’culture’ has become an ‘increasingly empty term […] more frequently it is used, the more regularly it seems to need another word to prop it up and define its field of reference.’ (Goodall, 1995: xii). Take, for example, the term ‘police culture’, says Goodall, and the term ‘welfare culture’: does the word promise to mean more because these areas of society actually have little in common with one another? In both contexts the word ‘promises much [..] but delivers little; it poses as a noun but it is really an adjective’ where ‘culture’ means little more than ‘’group behaviour’, ‘practice’ or ‘shared assumptions’.’ (Ibid). The phenomenon of popular culture and the ease with which it has spread across the Western world, owes much to the existence of television, radio, and, more recently, the Internet. It was the Queen’s Coronation that begun the television age, with half the adult population watching the ceremony on TV sets; and most of these people not owning their own television at the time (Karwowski: 2002: 281). Statistics show that in 1951, the only available BBC channel had just 600,000 viewers, and that by the end of the century, watching TV was the most popular leisure activity – with 94 per cent of homes having at least one colour TV and 66 per cent a video cassette recorder (Ibid). Karwowski highlights the following televised programmes as being central to the historical analysis of popular culture: the Queen’s Coronation The Goon Show – from June 1952 to January 1960, described as ‘a surreal form of humour that lampooned all forms of pomposity and hypocrisy.’ (Karwowski: 2002: 281). Situation comedies such as Till Death Us Do Part 60s TV comedies, such as That Was The Week That Was and Monty Python’s Flying Circus Independent TV (ITV) began broadcasting in 1955. The number of TV channels grew to three with the start-up of BBC 2 in 1964, to four with Channel 4 in 1982, and five with Channel 5 in 1997, while colour TV was available from 1968. British Costume Drama, portraying English novelists such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Evelyn Waugh Educational documentaries such as Sir Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation (1969), Dr Jacob Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man (1973) and Sir David Attenborough’s Life on Earth (1979) Walking with Dinosaurs>GET ANSWER