Proposal / Conference Paper / Response

Your project can be an exploration of anything you choose, hopefully, prompted by the research you did for your annotated bibliography. One of the main “ingredients” in the project should be a cultural text–that is, a work of fiction, poem, memoir, film, TV show, or game. The project should not be:

  • an overview of a idea or movement (e.g., slavery or feminism), a summary of a book, or a biography
  • a demonstration that “_____ had a significant impact on society”
  • a “pro” or “anti” argument (e.g., for the death penalty)

We’ll talk more about developing research questions in class. In addition, check out the examples of literary essays on the Resources page for this class.


Write a proposal (also known as an abstract) for an interdisciplinary humanities conference, “Writing in Tight Spaces.” It should be 300-600 words and include a (not-annotated) bibliography. It will tell us, in short, what you’re going to investigate, how, and why. The bibliography should include at least one literary/cultural work and one scholarly source.

The argument of every proposal is the same: “Choose me!” You need to convince the conference organizers that you’re an authority in your field and that your work is original and relevant.

Proposal writing tips from the Notre Dame Writing Center [PDF]

What does a proposal look like? It varies by discipline, but here are some examples from the University of Delaware (in English, history, and philosophy) and Purdue OWL.

Will I ever need to write a proposal again? Almost certainly. A convincing proposal is essential if you want to pursue independent research at Emory through SIRE, or to be considered for the library’s Undergraduate Research Award). Proposal writing is also a must in science, marketing, and non-profit work.

Due on Sunday, April 12, at midnight, on Blackboard.


Conference Paper

Detailed guidelines coming soon.

Presentation length: a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 minutes at a reasonable pace. You may include up to 1 minute of an audio/video clip if it’s essential to your paper. Do not use PowerPoint or any other slide-show software, except to highlight a few lines of text or an image.

Tips on writing and presenting for conferences

You will deliver your paper on April 22, 24, or 27, and submit it on Blackboard by Monday, April 27.
I’ll be using the same rubric that I used for your active reading presentations.



Usually, a panel consists of a few speakers and one respondent who tries to connect the various papers or evaluates their relative merits. For our conference, you will each deliver a response to one other presenter on your panel. This will require you to have read their paper in advance and, likely, to do a bit of background reading on their topic. The response should be 2-4 minutes long, with no filler.

The response solidifies what we’ve learned, alerts us to other perspectives on the topic, and helps us contextualize the project in relation to other conversations in the class, at Emory, or in the news. Unlike the comments you’ve been leaving the blogs, the audience here is not just the author. The audience is everyone at the conference.

It’s not a review. Don’t tell us you thought your classmate’s paper was interesting, well written, or that it used adverbials beautifully to sustain our attention. (Tell that to him or her in person!) It’s also not an opportunity to cut your classmate down. If you disagree with the paper, concentrate on its sources of evidence and its methods of analysis, and use those to pose alternate conclusions. Do not judge the paper on outside information about the author (e.g., saying it represents a “woman’s perspective” or a “b-school approach”).

Length: 300-600 words.
Due before class on the day of your partner’s presentation. You should be prepared to read it aloud, but you may not get to; we’ll choose respondents at random.