Research Proposal

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A Guide to the ALM Thesis

Appendix 1: Sample Research Proposals
All of the following research proposals are based on actual proposals submitted by ALM candidates. The original annotated bibliographies have been abridged in some cases to conserve space. Some notes on the main features of the first proposal, but relevant to all of them, follow each section. Sample Research Proposals Humanities English and American Literature and Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75 History of Art and Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95 Social Sciences Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .127 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .147 History of Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .165 Archaeology/Anthropology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .175 Behavioral Science Psychology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .185 Biological Sciences Biology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .203

A Sample Humanities Research Proposal
Note: The author has included her name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and the date of submission on the title page. Since many thesis proposals are often received in the ALM office at the same time, it is important that this information be on the title page in case the proposals become separated from their cover letters or envelopes.

74 | Appendix 1: Sample Proposals

A Guide to the ALM Thesis

Proposal for a Thesis in the Field of English and American Literature and Language in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Liberal Arts Degree

Harvard University Extension School June 1, 2002

Nancy Kelley 9 Western Avenue Milburn, MA 02899 nkelley@bvd.com (617) 555-1212

Appendix 1: Sample Proposals | 75

A Guide to the ALM Thesis

Note: The statement of the research problem is concise. It presents one or more well-focused questions; the author’s hypothesis or answers to these questions; the type of evidence that the author intends to use in order to test the hypothesis; the anticipated result, which further extends the hypothesis and considers its broader implications. The author does make use of the first person, but not in an obtrusive manner.

76 | Appendix 1: Sample Proposals

A Guide to the ALM Thesis

I. Tentative Title: “On the Home Front: Gender Disruption and the Great War”

II. Research Problem One of the contributions of recent feminist literary scholarship has been to question the absence of female authorial representation from the widely acknowledged canon of World War I literature. This canon has been established and upheld by substantial and well known critical studies including Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory1 and Stanley Cooperman’s World War I and the American Novel.2 The implication is that the “classic” writers of the Great War are not only male, but soldiers as well, and that women’s contributions have largely been ignored or dismissed. In this thesis, I will analyze selected works of three major female writers of the 20th century—Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, and Virginia Woolf—which thematize and are set against the background of World War I: Cather’s novels One of Ours and The Professor’s House; Wharton’s novels A Son at the Front and The Marne as well as the short stories “Coming Home,” The Refugees,” and “Writing a War Story”; and Woolf’s novels Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Between the Acts. The chief questions I will investigate are: Why have female writers been excluded from the WWI canon? What contributions has each writer in this investigation made to modernism? How did the war enable her to articulate the problems of being...
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