Looking at our syllabus, I see you also have a one-page “provisional topic” due next week. What I’m looking for here is an early stage of pre-writing, in which you choose an area of inquiry, a primary text or set of texts, and make some early gestures toward a critical methodology.
To be more specific, I’d like each “topic” to include the following things:
1. A draft title (it should be creative and catchy as well as descriptive & informative)
2. A 2-3 sentence summary of the area of inquiry: what sorts of questions are you asking/hoping to answer?
3. Primary texts: at least one, no more than 3, with some suggestion about what features you’ll discuss (ie, not just *The Lusiads*, but the Adamastor episode (for a paper on post-colonialism or imperialism), or the Island ofLove (for a paper on sexuality)…
4. Methodology: You can keep this fairly broad at this stage, and you should follow the project’s intellectual lead rather than shoehorning material into a pre-fab critical frame — but as we all should know by now, not having a methodology is never a good idea. (Or even possible.)
5. Secondary texts: You don’t have to have read these yet, but it’s a good idea to get started with some possibilities. I’ll make some suggestions, and also point you toward other things.
You should fit all this on one side of one page, and be prepared to talk (very briefly) about it in class.