1930s Research

We’ve organized our groups – – proletarian literature, general strike, and factory in the fields.  Now, we have to get started researching.  I’ve outlined the research process below.  Each stage of the process has a concrete outcome – – note page, research questions, research plan, rough draft.  You should have your first note page done by the end of this week (2/ 24).  We’ll discuss the dates for the next stages in class.

Remember: the goal of your research is to show me and your classmates how Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle relates to its historical context, e.g. the 1930s.  This is a very general goal, so you’ll have to narrow it down as you work through the historical material and as we work through the novel.

First, read through the research “seeds” that I’ve given you on our 1930s page.  As you read through these texts, note connections that you see between what you’re reading and Steinbeck’s novel.  The goal here is to start digging up provocative or interesting points of intersection between text and context.  The end product of this first stage: a google doc chock-full of notes and comments linking In Dubious Battle to particular pieces, moments, items within the seed documents.

Second, as a group, review and discuss the reflections in your google doc.  Talk about which connections seem most interesting, which seem most powerful, which seem most significant.  This should result in at least three topics of focus.  To cap off this stage and move onto the next, formulate a good, open-ended question for each of your topics.  This question will help to guide you forward and start to lend some coherence to your research.  Explaining the answer(s) to each question will ultimately provide the substance of your presentations. (At this point, you may want to subdivide your group and fork your original google doc into three or four or whatever separate docs/sites, one for each research question.) [Due: Wed., March 1]

Third, now that you’re getting a sense of the task and your goals, you’ll need to do some planning.  Who will tackle which parts of your question?  Which archives will you explore?  You’ll need to move away from our seed text and start exploring other texts and sources.  Use your google doc to set out your plan and to collect material and ideas. [Due: Wed. March 8]

Finally, you’ve assembled your raw material.  Now, you’ll need to wrangle it into shape.  As a group, cull your accumulated material.  Find an outline of your group’s response to the research question.  Start building paragraphs within this outline.  Use your researched material to illustrate and develop your ideas.  The goal of this stage is to create a rough draft of your presentation and it’s final written form. [Due: Wed., March 15]

Research presentations and write-ups: Wed., March 29.  On Wed., each group (proletarian literature, general strike, factory in the fields) will get 20 minutes to present your research.  Remember: the goal of your research is to connect In Dubious Battle to your context.  In other words, how does your research answer some significant question about In Dubious Battle and its relation to the 1930s?  Your in-class presentation should be well-organized and efficient.

In addition, each sub-group within your groups is responsible for a three to four page write-up of its research findings.  These will be co-authored documents.  Use google docs so that you can share the final version with me.  Again, remember, the goal here is not to simply sum up your research, but to connect it to Steinbeck’s novel.  I.e. what did your particular research show you about In Dubious Battle?  How did it help you to see new things in the novel?  How did it change your understanding of Steinbeck’s narrative?  These write-ups should be clear and concise and well-documented.  (Use MLA style to document your write-up.)

Questions?  Let me know (profhanley@gmail.com).  I’ll be checking in on the mess o’ google docs over the next couple of weeks.

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