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Ian J

- Research Program Mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate


English; 20th & 21st century literature; postcolonial literature; Anglophone literature; literary criticism; writing; the writing process; creative nonfiction; cultural criticism

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Research paper (any level)

This project would allow you to do two big things: 1) formulate a research question; develop a claim; summarize, analyze, and synthesize critical, peer-reviewed sources; and write a persuasive, compelling essay in support of your ideas, and 2) throughout this process, discover how you write most effectively: how does the writing process work for you? How do you move from brainstorming, through research and drafting, to final revisions? What tools, strategies, and approaches can you keep in your writing toolkit for your future endeavors?

Review / Cultural criticism

The review--far from being only a positive or negative evaluation of something--is a compelling and thoughtful form for thinking through not only a work of art (a book, an album, a film, a TV show, a painting, etc.), but also its larger significance. What does it mean? Why does it matter? For whom? Writing a review requires close attention to your subject: how do you describe it with words? How do you summarize its intentions, features, and effects? How do you deconstruct all of this, and then figure out what you think about it? Putting the object of your analysis in context--a time, a place, a cultural moment--can open up fascinating questions, ones that you can answer from your own unique perspective!

Creative essay

The "essay" is a wide, ever-shifting form that you can make your own. Creative nonfiction--a genre that includes the personal essay, cultural criticism, memoir, life-writing, and more--is a way to explore your own experiences and perspective on the world. This project would focus on using writing as a tool of exploration, a way to ask questions, narrate your experiences, and figure out what meaning and significance you might make from it all. Your essay could be experimental -- with numbered sections, out-of-order storytelling; it could be short or long; it could be funny or introspective; you could ask questions you don't know the answer to. More than anything, the creative nonfiction essay is a place for you to be curious and inquisitive, to write about the subjects and ideas that make you feel most alive!

Interested in working with expert mentors like Ian?

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