Preliminary Questions in Preparing a Dissertation or Book Proposal

For our English 573, American Moderns, class today.

Preliminary Questions in Preparing a Dissertation or Book Proposal

1. In a sentence or two, what’s the overall argument of this project? What’s the main point that you’re trying to make? (Think about this: how would you describe what you’re doing if you were talking on an elevator with someone for about 2 minutes?)

2. What one author or idea does this project absolutely have to include, and why?

3. What’s the gap in the scholarship that you’re trying to fill by writing about it? What are you saying that others haven’t talked about yet?

4. Why is it important?  (This is the “so what?” question that editors talk about.)

5. What other authors or topics are you planning to include, and why?

6. What’s the most exciting part of this project for you, or what fascinates you about this topic?

7. Is there anything you’ve written that can be incorporated into this project already?

8. Is there anything you’d like to include in this project but probably aren’t going to be able to include because of time, resources, etc.?

9. What theoretical framework(s) do you anticipate being most useful to you as you move forward with the project?

10. What critical works do you admire and might you consider as a model or template for your study?

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