Prospectus and Bibliography Writing Assignment

Prospectus and Bibliography Writing Assignment


Overview: A paper prospectus has three functions: 1) to get you started thinking about your paper early on; 2) to give you the chance to organize your ideas; and 3) to motivate you to articulate your ideas in a coherent and formal fashion on the page. Think of this as a proposal that you are pitching for a potential project. You are seeking to convince an audience that your particular argument/thesis/research question is worth pursuing.


Format: A good way to organize a prospectus is the following:


1. In the first paragraph, you should introduce the topic to your reader and then present your thesis statement (it can just be a working thesis at this point). What is your research question? What kind of argument are you making? How will you back up your claim?

The following statement is NOT a thesis:

“Asian Americans experienced a lot of racism and violence in the twentieth century. Racism is really bad.”


2. In the second paragraph, you should briefly outline the significance of your project, explain what you hope to find, and list four or five of the central inquiries of your paper. The central inquiries of your project are different from your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the claim that you are making and that you will prove; the central inquiries are the main questions that led you to develop this project in the first place. They are questions that you will address tangentially in your paper or that underpin the project itself. You can also think of this part as situating your project or contextualizing it.

3. In the third paragraph, you will briefly introduce the main primary and secondary sources that you will draw from in the project and explain why they are important. It helps to cluster books or articles together here, as you will not have a lot of space. This part may feel a little uncomfortable to write as you may not have read all of the documents that you are including as sources. This is okay; you just have to have skimmed them or read some of them to be able to determine if they will be useful to you. The whole prospectus should be not longer than one-page. You may single or double-space your work as you need, but should present it in a single page.


Bibliography: you should include a preliminary bibliography of your primary and secondary sources. What books, articles, documentaries, videos will help you to make your case? Primary sources are those texts which are central in helping you to formulate your ideas and thesis and which provide the necessary evidence you need to make your argument. Secondary sources, are readings that address your research topic or area of interest. These will often be theoretical or critical works, considered “necessary” reading in a given topic. You must provide full bibliographic information in a properly formatted citation style. You may use MLA, APA, or Chicago, but please be consistent in your usage of ONE of these styles.


To Keep In Mind: The goal here is to be able to conceive of, organize, articulate, and present a viable project. Your project has to be feasible in scope and rational in argument. Your presentation of it should be concise, clear, and easily accessible to your audience. This is a strange genre to write, to be sure. So it may feel a little uncomfortable at first. But you will find the prospectus very helpful when you begin to actually write your paper. It will serve as an overview, a ballast, and tangible proof that you have a realizable idea in mind.



1) The prospectus should be one page, single or double-spaced, 3-5 paragraphs. Keep in mind, the less work you do now, the more you will have to do later, when you submit your final version to me. The length really depends on how well you have organized your ideas and how fleshed out your proposal is. You MUST include a thesis statement. Again, if you need help with this or do not know what a thesis statement is, please refer to the online resources listed above.

2) Your bibliography should include at least ten to fifteen sources. You must use at least three readings from the syllabus that we have been discussing. I encourage you to think broadly here, in your approach to texts and sources. I am very open to using photography, documentaries, historical archives, artistic works as sources in your papers, so long as they help you to make your case or illustrate your argument.


At least three readings from the Syllabus:

-BOOK: Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans. Ronald Takaki.

-BOOK: Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White. Frank Wu

-On Strike” by Karen Uememoto

-Strangers From a Different Shore Preface and Ch. 1-2 [Preface “Confronting ‘Cultural Literacy’: –The Redefining of America; Ch. 1 “From a Different Shore: Their story bursts with telling”; Ch. 2 “Overblown with Hope: The First Wave of Asian Immigration”

-Strangers from a Different Shore Ch. 7 “Struggling Against Colonialism: Koreans in America”

-FILM: Sa-I-Gu documentary on Korean Americans and L.A. Watts Riots

-Chapters 3-5 in Strangers from a Different Shore [Ch. 3 “Gam Saan Haak: The Chinese in Nineteenth-Century America”; Ch. 5 "Ethnic Solidarity: The Settling of Japanese America"]

-FILM: Sentenced Home 

-Strangers From a Different Shore Ch. 8 “’The Tide of Turbans’: Asian Indians in America”

-“The Hmong: Struggle and Perseverance.” Holly Peters-Golden.Culture Sketches

-Waves of War: Refugees, Immigrants and New Americans from Southeast Asia” by Carl L. Banston III and Antoinette Hidalgo

-Janine Young Kim “Are Asians Black?…”

-Min Zhou “Are Asian Americans becoming White?”

-FILM: Race: The Power of an Illusion

-chapter 10 "The Watershed of World War II: Democracy and Race" in Takaki's Strangers from a Different Shore



Examples of research papers in other AASP:


  • "Inter-Group Relations Between African Americans and Asian Americans"
  • "Asian American Media Images and Discrimination"
  • "The Ongoing Legacy of the Japanese Occupation of Korea"
  • "Cultural Connections Between Asian and Western Media"
  • "Experiences of Asian American Expatriates in Asia"
  • "Health Services in Underserved Asian American Communities"
  • "Parenting Pressures Faced by Asian American Students"
  • "A Multimedia Journey Through the Korean-Japanese War 1592-1598"
  • "Acculturation and Sexual Health Among Asian American Women"
  • "An Intergenerational Study of Asian American Experiences and Identity"
  • "Asian Americans and Emerging Media Images on YouTube"
  • "Asian American Women, Model Minority Pressures, and Mental Health Resources"
  • "A Videologue of the Cambodian Refugee Experience"
  • "The Development and Cultural Implications of the Korean Hallyu"
  • "Spoken Word Inspirations on Being an Asian American Male"
  • "Comparison of Nutrition and Dietary Patterns of Asians and Asian Americans"
  • "The Cultural Contexts and Constraints Faced by Asians and Asian Americans in Professional Sports"
  • "Dimensions of Asian Culture and Stereotypes"
  • "Asian American Short Stories: Explorations of Identity and Literature"
  • "The Intersections of Ethnicity and Culture: Why People Like Korean Entertainment"
  • "Reflections on Education, Retention of Chinese Culture, and Being an American: An Intergenerational Case Study"
  • "A Historical and Contemporary Review of Taishanese in the U.S. and Taiwan"
  • "Asian Americans and Interracial Relationships: Experiences from Around the Globe"
  • "Intergenerational Differences in Experiences and Identity Among Filipino Americans"
  • "Motivations and Effects of Membership in Asian American Greek Organizations"
  • "Surviving The Wars: Life Histories of Vietnamese and Cambodian Refugees"
  • "Asians and Asian Americans in Professional Sports"
  • "Availability and Accessibility of Healthcare for Low-Income Asian Immigrants in Massachusetts"
  • "Portrayals of Asian American Characters in Young Adult Novels"
  • "Domestic Violence Against Asian/ Asian American Women"
  • "Asian/Asian-American Adoptee Identity and Development in the United States"
  • "Asian Americans in the U.S. Labor Force: Successes and Challenges"
  • "The Mask of Western Society: Cosmetic Surgery Among Asian American Women"
  • "The Asian American Perspective on Child-Rearing"
  • "The Aesthetics and Cultural Context of Asian Automotive Design"
  • "Representations and Cultural Implications of Portrayals of Asian American History in Textbooks"
  • "Interracial Dating and Gender Relations Within the Asian American Community: White Men, Asian American Men, and the Ownership of Asian American Women"
  • "Stereotyping the Asian American Male: Expectation, Limitation, and Repercussions"
  • "The Cultural Dynamics of Interracial / International Asian Adoption"
  • "Defining 'Success' for Asian American Students and Their Parents"
  • "Vietnamese Americans and Mental Illness in Springfield, Massachusetts"
  • "Who Am I? Constructing a Vietnamese American Identity"
  • "'ABCs' in Hong Kong: Chinese American Identity in a Hong Kong Cultural Context"
  • "An Identity Crisis in Progress"

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