AY333 Contemporary Theory - Final Project

This research assignment is designed to allow you to think about the different theoretical approaches that we explore in class and to choose one or more to apply in your own analysis. Projects must be based on some form of "ethnographic" data, with which you have direct experience, rather than secondary literature. The final product will make an original analysis of this material; that is, you must go beyond "description" to make your own explanation/interpretation/commentary. The "data" you use can be the product of ongoing research, e.g. your project in AY313 (if currently enrolled), or based on materials/ observations you made during a study abroad experience or are making now as part of volunteer work, team activities, dorm life, etc.

1. Meet with me to discuss your ideas. This should happen at least once early in the term but return visits are encouraged!

2. For November 10: Write a draft of 4-8 pages. In your draft, you should describe the ethnographic material that you expect to use as the basis for your paper, and discuss how you could analyze this material, drawing on three authors/perspectives covered in the course. At this point, you shouldn't feel like you are making firm commitments--you will have plenty of time to revise the ethnographic case and/or the theoretical approaches.

As you start to think about writing -- remember these are relatively short papers (8-10 pages) and that in their final form, they must be analyses rather than descriptions. That means you need to think about how much "data" you should include in order to make the analysis work. One possibility is to select a few key "events" (or ideas, symbols, encounters, statements, ...) from your research that crystalize key issues, key problems, or key themes that you want to explore. You can then organize your analysis around these "illustrative" elements of your field data.

3. In meetings in the final week of class (Monday December 3 at the regular class time and Wednesday December 5 from 5-7:30 PM (over Pad Thai)), present your findings / analysis. Presentations should be 6-8 minutes in length to allow time for questions (14 minutes total per person...unless you want to add a third meeting).

The presentations are your chance to engage the rest of the class in your project. Plan your presentation keeping in mind that your classmates are your audience. You are talking to them (not just to me) and need to think about how to present your topic and ideas in a way that will be meaningful to your fellow students. Feel free to engage the class in questions, to seek feedback or advice, or to use some more interactive or dramatic/creative modes of presentation.

4. Finalize your analysis in a 8-10 page paper, due Wednesday December 12. The paper should focus on your analysis of the data, not ethnographic description.

A note on sources: you do not need to load up your analysis with lengthy references to or quotations from the readings. I am interested in how you are applying the ideas and insights of the relevant theoretical approaches rather than your ability to select appropriate passages. Use such references only when it really helps to move your argument along--but make sure that your use of theorists' concepts is clearly explained, accurate, and appropriate to the data. Include in a bibliography/list of references (for the final version, not the draft) any published material (whether these are assigned readings, outside sources, printed documents, websites, or any other materials) that you either quote or make substantive use of in the paper. If you think that there is any possibility for confusion, then include an appendix that explains the source(s) of your data. If you aren't sure what to do -- come talk to me!