In early Chinese thought, heaven was considered "round" and earth "square." Westerners from St. Anselm to Kant taught that round and square are opposites. I will explore the connections between east and west (round and square) in a blog that takes seriously the little details of our lives. Round and square; east and west—never the twain shall meet (it has been said). Except when they do, and that is the whole point of this blog.
From Round to Square (and back)
For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project: http://magazine.beloit.edu/?story_id=240813&issue_id=240610
A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again). *Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Confucius and Social Theory: Research Prospectus Assignment
A prospectus is a “road
map” to your individual project for this seminar. It will explain the specific,
focused subject of your project, but it also articulates the larger
significance of this particular study. Think about that carefully—the best
papers (and “prospecti” move in two seemingly contradictory (but only seemingly contradictory) directions. The
best research papers are “small and focused”…but with very large implications. Every
good research paper (or academic article or book) considers a seemingly small question, but then shows
why a full answer to that question matters far beyond the details at the center
of the manuscript. Your job in a research prospectus is to show both of these things—why the details
matter…and what is their implication for a larger argument.
For example, an essay considering
the James Legge’s late-nineteenth century translation of the Analects into English would not only
explore the smaller issues of how Legge used an individualistic and Christian
idiom in his translation, but also the larger issue of how the such linguistic
choices shape the way that Westerners perceive Chinese history, philosophy, and
A prospectus summarizes the
work that you have already done on your project. It also outlines what you
still intend to do. The prospectus for your project should be accompanied by an
annotated bibliography. Together your prospectus and bibliography will serve as
a progress report of what you have accomplished and clarify (for both of us)
what remains to be done.
How Should I Organize
Your prospectus should be
2,000-3,000 words long (6-10 pages, double-spaced). Give the title for your
project and your name. Think carefully about your title (think about titles in
the New York Review of Books. The
first paragraph must clearly state the subject of your research (your “small”
issue) and explain its larger significance (the “large” issue).
The body of your prospectus
should explain how you will go about addressing your intended subject. Think
about how you will divide the prospectus. Do you need section (think again of the NYRB)? What sources
are you using? What is your central, key primary source (think back to our
conversations about this in class). What other primary sources do you have, and
how will they affect your project. What are your secondary sources? How much,
realistically, can you study in depth, and what must you go through more
quickly (this is a reality of life)?
Going further, what kind of
information do you hope to glean from your sources (distinguish between your
central primary source, your other primary sources, and your secondary sources)? How much of the work have you completed and
how much remains to be done? (in this
case, obviously, you have yet to write the paper, but you should be able to
outline, in prose, the major elements of your argument by the time you finish
The conclusion to your
prospectus should summarize your preliminary conclusions. You might also
discuss whether or not you expect these to change significantly on the basis of
the work remaining to be done. End it with strength. Don’t just restate what
you said in the first paragraph.
What Should Be
Included in the Bibliography?
Your bibliography is a
separate document (and a new word-count). If you wish to put them all together
in one document (as a .pdf file), that is fine. If you want to send the
prospectus and bibliography as separate documents, that is fine, too. Bibliographical
citations should follow the format of the Chicago Manual of Style (as you well
know by now). A brief annotation (2-4 sentences) should follow each citation. In
it explain what the item is (what kind of source is it? what perspective does
it take on your topic? How, specifically, does it contribute to our knowledge
of the subject?) and how you will be using it. Bibliographical entries (only)
should be single spaced with a double space between each entry. Try to be
concise and to avoid being too repetitious in your entries.