For 18.4.18

  • Scratching
  • Find a completely interesting text
  • Identify your heroes
  • Record an everyday research dialogue
  • Outlining


This lesson is based on “scratching,” what many creative people do when they are starting a project, like chickens scratching the dirt in the hopes of finding something to eat

  • You might begin by reading a few pages of Scratching, by Twyla Tharp

Find a completely interesting text

Find, read, enjoy, and bring to class an article, film, book, or interview of something you find completely interesting

  • Your aim is to draft half or more of your BA Thesis in this class in this semester to avoid panic and work and cry
  • The prime, #1, completely intelligent thing to do is to identify what interests you, what you like to do, and develop your BA Thesis out of that; otherwise you will risk panic and work and cry
  • Don’t worry about the exact topic yet, one thing will lead to another; for example, look for travel literatures in the area of your choice so that you might start off with reading a travel book to China and find yourself writing about the One Belt One Road Initiative and supply chain management

You might start off by reading a modern history of your favorite area, for example, I searched for “best books on modern China” and found 4 books you need to read to understand modern-day China

  • Brainstorming your interests is a standard way students are advised to discover a research topic, because then you establish YOUR interests (and not those of your teacher), the things you will love to learn more about, stay up late at night talking about things or reading
  • Once you get started we’ll expand your search through study of The Craft of Research, Chapter 3, “From Topics to Questions”

Identify your heroes

Identify one or more people in your chosen field, or near to what might become your chosen field, and learn something about them

  • In class, we started to watch Steve Jobs Introduces the Apple Store (2001) as a great example of a business hero, especially for people who are interested in management, marketing and merchandising
  • Richard Grossinger’s Teachers might inspire you for his tremendous catalogue of intellectual excitement and support

Record an everyday research dialogue

Learn how to view research arguments as refinements of the research we do every day by studying the first few pages of Craft, Chapter 7, beginning page 108

A: I hear last semester was a little rocky. How do you think this term will go? A poses a problem that interests her, put in the form of a question.

B: Better, I hope. B makes a claim that answers the question.

A: Why is that? A asks for a reason to believe B’s claim.

Then record a few of the conversations you have or witness where you and classmates are trying to solve an every day research problem

  • You do in fact conduct research every single day when you raise questions, search for evidence, develop arguments, survey what others think, and use the language that relevant searchers also use
  • Learning by doing means not simply reading this example dialogue, but finding it in your daily life
  • If you can see research in every day life you will, with much less effort, be able to see how formal, professional research follows the same logic, serves the same purposes, and so is something that you already know


Work your way through my Outlining advice as best you can and so set up your basic note-taking, outlining, drafting, and communications framework

  • By next Tuesday, please write up your activities and findings in the “For 18.4.18, Finding your Topic” worksheet I’ve saved to our Dropbox and leave them in the “For 18.4.18” folder