Prospectus Drafts Due June 9

Your final submission for the quarter is due June 9. (I need it absolutely no later than June 10 at 9:00 am, if I’m to assess it this quarter.) It should take the form of a prospectus draft. The prospectus draft outline on the DANM WIKI contains some details about typical arts prospectuses for grant applications, book proposals, and thesis or dissertation proposals. That outline page also includes some samples of DANM thesis prospectuses.

An outline of a typical prospectus draft consists of

I. A brief Statement describing the project you intend to pursue, if you are granted funds, or if you qualify to pursue the thesis in your degree program.

II. [Optional for this course:] A Project Narrative / Synopsis [, this will be useful in communications with your thesis or dissertation committee, but you needn’t complete it this quarter.] The synopsis describes “I.” above in greater detail, explaining your methods, your material and technical components, and the generalities of your creative goals, as well as the effect you hope the work will achieve.

III. Contexts / Motivations. This the main portion of your work in this seminar. It includes primarily (1) a literature review (in which you discuss existing critical/philosophical work), and (2) discussion of works by notable artists that you consider as precedents to yours. In both (1) and (2), you are establishing the pre-existing dialogue that you hope your work participates in.

IV. Bibliography.


Infrequently Asked Questions

If I’m in DANM, when is my Thesis Prospectus due?  An abstract of your thesis is due November 2011. You actually aren’t required to submit a prospectus, but for most of you, the first thesis committee meeting will be a presentation of a prospectus (even if you don’t “write it”) to your three committee members. They have to approve your abstract and your presentation of goals, in order for you to move forward with the MFA program.

What’s due at the end of this quarter? A “draft” of a thesis prospectus. It isn’t necessarily connected to your DANM MFA. It has been my goal to construct the seminar in such a way as to help you gain momentum toward the MFA thesis in the spring. However, that is not its primary goal.

What is the primary goal of the seminar? The primary goal of the seminar is to practice a style of reading, writing, and dialogue, that you will (hopefully) continue to use throughout your career. You might not use any of these draft materials immediately in your MFA.

How can I connect the seminar readings to my creative work, if my creative work has nothing to do with the readings? Propose more readings for the seminar! I don’t expect the readings I’ve chosen to be relevant to everyone, and I’m excited to include more. That’s why I want you to propose more readings, that are relevant to your work. I will include any readings you propose, that involve critical thinking about art, and have sufficient breadth as to potentially involve the whole cohort. As long as we can make those readings available to the rest of the seminar, they’ll count toward “seminar readings” in your prospectus drafts.

I am only expecting you to make use of two such readings in the “prospectus draft” at the end of the quarter. In addition, you may draw on readings that no one else has read. In all cases, you are practicing the skill of making those readings clear to readers who are unfamiliar with the material.

Why do my prospectus drafts have to make reference to at least two readings that everyone in the seminar has been assigned to read? Because the process of dialogue between us is the core goal of the seminar. I may have given a false impression at the beginning, that the core goal of the seminar is to develop your MFA thesis. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to develop that thesis in consultation with your committee, between now and May 2012. Some of you have already begun that process outside the seminar, and you are earning academic credit for it.

When you participate in directed readings or independent studies with your committee chair, you will get to choose your own readings, and tailor your research precisely to your own needs. Right now, we’re trying to come together in a 10-week conversation that may or may not be extended into your later work.

What’s the difference between andesite and rhyolite? I almost never get this question. It’s my understanding that andesite is magma that tends toward higher viscosity. As a result, after an eruption, the cooling lava forms clumps with high aspect ratios; they tend to appear blocky, with smooth edges at gentle angular incidences to one another. Rhyolite has a lighter color, and breaks and permeates more smoothly, due to its generally finer composition at the time of cooling. We might enjoy reading a little about structural geology later in the quarter—we’ll see what our mood is in the group.



Thesis Prospectus Excerpt Drafts

Due May 12 at noon and Friday, June 1 at midnighteach seminarian should submit a 4-5 page discussion of theory and existing creative work. The discussion may or may not eventually form part of your plan for the M.F.A. thesis, or inform a “grant proposal” or “statement of intent” related to future work.

HOW TO DO THIS ASSIGNMENT: Explicitly connect your notes from two seminar readings to the questions and problems that interest you, and drive your creative work. Keep these two requests in mind, please:

  1. Each of these 4-5 page excerpts should attempt to synthesize, or bring together, key questions in the work of about two to three authors.
  2. At least one of the articles or chapters you cite should be on the  202/254Q reading list, including works that you or your peers contribute to that list. With permission, you may also include works from the DANM 201 list.

What’s that, you say you’re not all that into the seminar readings? It is acceptable to invoke ideas and theories from readings without endorsing them…simply make clear how your own trajectory of thought is distinct from, or similar to, the trajectories outlined by our authors. This is not a trivial point. Distancing yourself from these readings will be useful beyond this seminar conversation, because post-psychoanalaytic and post-Marxist thought are dominant features of the conversation in which a substantial contingency of academic artists (and artists in general) participate.

MLA Citation Style is required for each of these two assignments; please submit them by creating a new post on the “Thesis Prospectus Drafts” page; this will enable colleagues to think through, and inquire about, your work via the “comment” function.

As always, feel free either to post your work directly here (using conventions like “^1” for footnotes)… or post a link to a draft you’ve posted at another location.

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