more thoughts on research

Apparently (at least to one commenting reader) I guess I came across as more conservative than I had meant to in my last post. Which is part of the problem with all of the nuts-and-bolts sort of courses I guess: as soon as you start saying "this is required" or "this is important" then it is assumed that you're consigning the rest to oblivion.

But I do think that there is little consensus within the large category of English studies (which in many depts encompasses Eng/Amer literature, theory, creative writing, maybe linguistics, sometimes lit in translation, etc...) about what constitutes "research." And that is a good thing. Even if it makes my job difficult in teaching a course on "Research Methods." I wouldn't want to be in a dept or profession that mandated one kind of research necessary for every project, every text, every approach. A deconstructive close reading doesn't draw upon the same kind of sources as an historical argument. And that's not just OK, but good.

So what I hope to do: equip these students with enough basic tools that they can later decide, based upon the text, approach, question at hand, what kinds of research they might do and how to begin doing it. Whether that would be reading Heidegger to understand Derrida, or using the Short-Title catalogue to learn about the distribution of Marvel's poetry. For students like ours at Large Urban University, neither of those tasks might seem obvious or easy.