Research Proposal

For your research project, you will choose to explore a topic/theme through two artifacts. The first work should be from before 1900; the second one should be more recent (at least after 1900). The goal is to write a compare/contrast essay that will examine a particular theme/topic through these two artifacts, so the two objects should be closely related in some way. They might serve a similar purpose (dance music from the Renaissance and dance music from the 20th century), address a similar topic (paintings or poems about love, war, money), or convey similar meanings through different methods (the display of wealth and power at Versailles and in contemporary skyscrapers). Other potential topics to explore include:

1) Religion: How do two depictions of the same religious scene or figure convey different ideas about them? How do they reflect on the different religious beliefs at play or the contexts in which these religious beliefs functioned?

2) Nature and Science: How do these objects reflect different attitudes towards the environment or cosmos? What is the role of science or technology in shaping these ideas?

3) Commemoration and Heroes: Many cultural objects commemorate heroes of various kinds (mythical, Biblical, military, intellectual, etc.). How do these objects celebrate various ideals of human accomplishment and power? What do they tell us about what types of skills, powers, and achievements are valued in this cultural context?

4) Human Nature/Perception: How do these objects reflect different ideas about who we are and how we view the world?

All of these are only suggestions. You can certainly explore other topics, and you are encouraged to email the instructor to help brainstorm a topic. The most important thing is that you write about a topic that you care about (and for which you can find 3-5 scholarly sources.)


The proposal should be in 12-point font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, and between 200-300 words in length. It should clearly do the following:

1) Identify both works to be discussed (including title and author).

2) Identify the overall theme that connects them and offer one or two comparisons/contrasts.

3) Briefly explain what these comparison/contrasts tell us about the topic you’ve chosen.

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