Blog post for 9/9

After you’ve set up your website, you’ll have to write your first blog post.

Keeping in mind the components of a good research question that we discussed in class on 8/29, write down three potential research questions that you would be interested in exploring for your semester research project. We will discuss these questions and decide on which one you should pursue when we meet one-on-one on 9/12 or 9/13. After each of your three questions, write a short paragraph explaining why you are interested in the topic. You do not yet need to have an idea of what, exactly, you want to argue about your topic, but if you do, let me know what you are thinking.

Your question can be on any humanities topic–that is, anything related to history, literature, arts, and culture. Ideally your question should be a question of definition, cause, or comparison. I recommend avoiding questions of fact, value, or policy, since those may lead you down the wrong path. But if you have a question you’re really interested in and you’re not sure how to classify it, feel free to include it and we can hash it out when we meet. Also, ideally your question would imply both a quantitative and qualitative component–that is, researching the question should involve interpreting both numerical data and historical sources.

One more thing to bear in mind: sometimes in digital humanities projects, copyright restrictions can make finding and working with sources more difficult. So if you are uncertain what you would like to research, bear in mind that anything written prior to 1924 is in the public domain and therefore free to use. No topic is off limits, but if you are trying to decide between researching, say, something about World War I and something about World War II, I would encourage you to chose World War I, since those sources will be in the public domain.

For further assistance, here is a writing guide from the University of MIchigan: How do I decide what I should argue?

And here is a video from the University of Cincinnati:


I would like your three questions and explanation paragraphs to look like this:

What was the most popular animal in Victorian literature?

I’m interested in looking at animals in Victorian literature. I would like to get counts of how often different names of animals show up in literature of the time in order to measure their relative popularity. I could trace those counts over time to see if their popularities changed during the Victorian era (1837-1901). I could also see if there were differences between the US and the UK at the time. I could pull out a few representative examples to closely analyze, and might also look at historical sources to see why some animals might have been more popular than others.