proposal for term paper on history of art of the western world 1

The short form of a proposal is appropriate for most term papers, and consists of four parts.

<strong>a)</strong> <strong>A "problem statement" / statement of topic</strong>, which answers the question: _x000D_
         <strong>What are you going to DO?</strong>

This statement begins with the word “TO,” which pushes you to speak in terms of ACTION. A silly but clear cut example is:

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To bake a layer cake for a party.

This will be stronger if you are more specific:

To bake a chocolate layer cake with vanilla butter cream frosting for the party on Thursday, [state the date].

To discern how American artists were influenced by French Impressionism, with particular focus on Edmund Tarbell, who was the only artist to successfully transform the painting style into something genuinely American.

Statement of the reason for your choice of topic, or Why is this topic important?

In at most 2 sentences, explain how your chosen topic relates to your interests. Why did you choose the topic? How does your topic relate to your professional goals, interests you already have, or interests that have grown with the independent reading you’re doing? This statement very loosely corresponds to the “need for the study” in a formal (long form / graduate level) proposal.

In the INFORMAL, small-scale short form of a proposal, a carefully considered statement of the reason you chose your topic will help to provide focus, and will affect the way you approach your topic and organize your paper.

For example, if we return to the problem statement about the cake, what sort of party is the cake for? If it’s a party celebrating a gardening prize that the person being honored has just won, then decoration with beautiful flowers made of icing is very appropriate. This will affect the problem statement, which might then read:

To bake a chocolate layer cake with vanilla butter cream frosting and icing decoration with a floral theme, for the party on [date], in honor of Jane Smith’s recent gardening award.

If the party is for a small child, and part of the entertainment is a trip to the zoo, then it might be appropriate to choose a theme of the child’s favorite animals–and so forth.

So, the reason you chose your topic will affect the problem statement. Just as in the silly example of the cake, often greater clarity on WHY you chose a topic will have a significant–or evan a profound–effect on your problem statement. Clarifying this early in the planning process will save a huge amount of time, and result in a better paper.

Outline, or, HOW are you going to do it?

In simple outline form, or in one or two paragraphs, explain how you plan to approach your topic. Based on the reading and thinking you’ve already done, and on the bibliography you’ve assembled, what is the tentative structure of your paper? This is not intended to be “written in stone,” for the project / paper will grow as you work on it. HOWEVER, be sure that your outline rests on the strong foundation of the work you’ve done so far.

A mistake folks sometimes make is to try to write an outline without having done adequate reading. This would be a poor foundation for your paper, and will result in a messy end of semester crunch.

The annotated Bibliography, or the resources you are drawing from from.

is the final part of a short proposal. By the time you write your proposal you should have already assembled a solid bibliography.

Please keep in mind that this is NOT a list of resources that you’ve not yet consulted, but that (judging by the titles) sounds good–or even impressive. If you try to take a shortcut in the proposal stage, you’ll have chaos at the end of the semester: You may discover that the sources are not available on short notice, or turn out to be inappropriate to your topic. Then you’ll end up with a mad rush at the end of the semester, and a weak paper.

Look again at the section titled ”
Assess your Bibliography” and be sure that your bibliography is balanced, and has a wide enough range of appropriate sources.

As you know from the
Research Strategy page,
the most effective approach is to BEGIN with BOOKS for a good overview, THEN use a well-designed database search to locate tightly focused articles that answer specific questions you may have.

When you are certain you have a solid bibliography, you may want to organize it in sections. If you choose to do this, under the heading “Selected Bibliography” say something like “I have organized this bibliography under the following headings: a) . . . b) . . . c) . . . ” The headings–under a), b), and c) should make sense to you, and help your reader / audience. And then under your chosen headings, list your sources alphabetically by author’s last name.

  • List your sources in the University of Chicago style (format), noting that the format for a bibliographic entry differs in format from a footnote;
  • Add an annotation for each entry–keep in mind that your annotations should be based on the reading you have already done in these sources.

    • Why are the source you’ve listed useful to you? This might or might not be obvious. And,
    • How have you accessed the source, or–in the case of a source you learned of recently and actively trying to gain access to–How have you, or how are you going to access the source? Is it at SUNY New Paltz? Is it online? Will you buy it or get it through InterLibrary Loan?
  • Remember that this sounds deceptively simple–the sort of thing that can be tossed off in an hour or so. Nothing can be further than the truth.
  • A proposal of a page or a page and a half is the proverbial tip of the iceberg: You see only a small amount above the water, but there’s a huge mass of ice supporting it.

  • A
    well-done proposal shows that you have done a third to a half of the work on your paper.

    • Remember that a proposal has FOUR PARTS in the following order:
      • a) What are you going to do? This is called the Problem statement.
      • b) Why is it important? Or, the Statement of the reason you chose your topic:
      • c) HOW are you going to do it? This is your Outline; and
      • d) The resources you are drawing on. This is the Annotated bibliography

    • My intent in assigning the proposal is to help you learn the the basics of the life skill of proposal writing, and to ensure that all is going well, and there will be no unpleasant surprises at the end of the semester.
    • A crucial part of the proposal is the bibliography. A poor bibliography is like trying to cook a delicious meal with stale or spoiled ingredients. So, be sure that your bibliography is solid.
    • Your Bibliography must have at least FIVE sources IN ADDITION TO the work(s) of art you will be discussing.I
    • For assembling the Bibliography I will require you to follow the methodology outlined on the Research Strategy page of the Art History Resources site that I built for my students. For some, this will be comfortably familiar. For others there will be a learning curve.
    • Please remember that a Bibliography consisting entirely (or almost entirely) of short articles is inappropriate, as your paper will teeter on a very narrow foundation. So, books must be a substantial part of your bibliography.
    • Please also remember that the proposal MUST be submitted more or less on time: I will not accept a proposal that’s submitted just before the end of the semester, and if submitted after any extension I’ve granted, the resulting grade for the Proposal will be Zero.
    • The proposal will be half the grade of your term paper, or 15% of your semester grade. Here is how each section of your proposal will be weighted:
      • Problem statement = 30%
      • Statement of why you chose your topic = 20%
      • Outline = 20%
      • Annotated Bibliography = 30%