Research paper instructions

Here are the instructions for the research paper, including the preliminary idea for it that is due March 13.

Instructions for research paper (MS Word)

Instructions for research paper (PDF)


Instructions for Research Paper

DUE: Tuesday, April 22, by 5 pm


Preliminary idea of the area for your research paper due March 13, by 5pm at the latest

By Thursday, March 13 you must submit, either in class or on the Connect site, a brief description of the area you’d like to start investigating for your research paper. This are may end up changing, of course, but the idea here is to get you started on this project early. Your description should be a few sentences long (no more than about 200 words), just discussing a general area, not necessarily a specific topic (unless you already have one in mind, which is great!).

Failure to submit this on time, without an “excused” reason, will result in a 5% penalty on the final mark for your research essay.


Drafts/outlines due:  Either Tuesday, April 1, or Thurs April 3 at the latest

1. You will be assigned to a group of about three people who will read each others’ drafts/outlines and give feedback (this way everyone can receive comments on their draft/outline from at least 2 other people). Groups will be meeting in class to give comments on the last class day, Tuesday April 8. The members of each group can work out amongst themselves how long in advance they want to receive the drafts or outlines, so that they can have comments ready by April 8. You could agree to give each other these in class on Tuesday, April 1, or you could agree to post them to Connect at a later date (but it should be no later than April 3). There will be a discussion board on Connect that only your group and Christina can access, if you want to post them online.

2. By whichever due date your group chooses (no later than April 3), you must submit:  (1) an outline of your essay, or a draft of part (or all) of your essay (plus an outline of the rest, if it’s just part); (2) a list of the sources you expect to use (this should have at least the required number of sources (see below), even though of course the actual ones you end up using by the time you’re done may be different). If you choose to do an outline, be sure that there is enough detail there that someone unfamiliar with your project can understand it, even without explanation from you (because they won’t get that explanation when they first read it). An outline should have the main points you’ll argue for, in the rough order you expect to make those arguments.

Submit these two things both to the members of the group to which you’ll be assigned for peer review and to Christina. You can submit them to Christina in class, or, if you post them to your group’s discussion board on Connect for other students to read and comment on, I can see them there so that’s good enough.

3. On the last class day, April 8, bring two copies of your comments on the essays you’ve read: one for the author and one for Christina. Alternatively, you could post your comments to the Connect discussion board for your group by class time on that day.

4. As noted on the syllabus, participation in the peer review of essays counts as part of your participation mark. You must do all of the following to avoid penalties to your participation mark for failing to participate in the peer review activity:

(a) Submit to your group a draft or outline of your essay, along with sources (according to the above specifications by the date agreed upon by your group). Also submit this to Christina, either in class or to your group’s discussion board on Connect (I can see it there).

(b) Read and comment on the papers of others in your group (bring written comments for the author in addition to explaining your comments orally; also submit these to Christina—see #3 for how you can do this).

(c) Be in class on the last class day, April 8, to give your comments to the papers’ authors orally.

Failure to do one of these will result in 5% penalty to your participation mark; failure to do two or more will result in a 10% penalty to your participation mark.


Page length requirement for completed essay

The completed essay must be 14-16 pages in length, typed, double-spaced, with margins between 0.75 and 1 inch, and font size between 10 and 12 points.  The margin and font requirements are to ensure approximately the same range of text within page requirements below.  You may go a bit beyond the maximum page lengths below, but if you go very far beyond them (e.g., an extra three or more pages beyond), especially if it is excessive, this may start to count against your mark. Please talk to Christina if you feel you need to go over the page length so we can discuss the issue and ensure you don’t get any penalties for the essay being too long.


The essay should be an argumentative one

This is not simply a literature review paper; it should be an essay in which you argue for a particular thesis about Nietzsche’s and/or Foucault’s work. The only difference between this and the shorter paper, besides length, is that for this one it is required that you discuss texts beyond those assigned for the course. You could think of what you are doing in this essay as doing research on some of the literature on the topic/issue you’ve chosen, and adding something to the conversation. It may be that you are making an entirely new argument that others haven’t made, or that you are responding to a criticism made by someone else, or criticizing some of the literature, etc.


Number of sources required for the completed essay

You may use any number of the assigned and optional readings listed on the course syllabus.  In addition to these, you must also discuss, in some significant fashion (e.g., not just a passing reference in one sentence), the following minimum number of sources. Of course, you may have more than the minimum. If you have any questions about how these sources should be used in your paper, or whether you are fulfilling the requirement of addressing them in “some significant fashion,” please ask Christina.

at least three articles, interviews or books beyond those assigned for the course (total, including works by Nietzsche or Foucault and/or others)

at least two of these three texts beyond what was assigned for the course must be “secondary sources”—written by people other than Nietzsche or Foucault


Where to find secondary sources

Your secondary sources should be journal articles, interviews, book chapters, or entire books by someone besides Nietzsche or Foucault.  The bibliography for the course (see link on the top menu of the course website: gives some possibilities, but you may also, of course, find your own. For journal articles, you should choose mainly those in peer-reviewed journals. Some journals that are not peer reviewed may be acceptable too. If you are unsure of the quality of a journal in which you find an article, or whether your source will be generally acceptable as a secondary source for your paper, please ask Christina. Journals or databases in the following disciplines might be good places to look for articles on Foucault: Philosophy, Women’s and Gender Studies, History, Political Theory, Sociology, or Education (not meant as an exhaustive list).

One good place to start is by looking at some subject indexes. I have found the Philosophers’ Index to be a pretty good sources for finding articles on Nietzsche and Foucault, though it is limited to those journals considered to be in the field of Philosophy.  It is accessible through the UBC library website (you need to either be on a campus internet network, or use VPN, to connect to the Philosophers’ Index): Google Scholar is pretty good as well ( but it can be hit and miss—I don’t think it catches all the possibilities that the databases do, but it has the advantage of not being limited to a disciplinary area.

How to find out of a journal is peer reviewed: sometimes you can tell on the website of the journal, but the library has a database of all journals (so it says) that can provide this information. Go to:  Type in the journal title, and click on the journal name, then on “additional title details.” If it is peer reviewed, it will say so.


Late papers: If you have a conflict with the due date for the final paper, let Christina know as soon as possible, and certainly before the last class day; we may be able to arrange an alternative due date.  If so, once that due date is set, you must stick to it or your paper counts as “late.”  Late papers are subject to a penalty of 10 points off per weekday, except in cases of illness or emergency (you must talk with Christina about this, preferably before the paper is late, but at least as soon as possible if it’s after the due date, to see if the late penalty can be reduced or eliminated in your case).  In order to get the papers marked and the final grades in before the final due date for grades, it is imperative that I receive the papers on time.  Thus, unless you are ill or face an emergency situation beyond your control, it’s unlikely that your paper will be accepted late without penalty.  Reminder of my contact info: email:;  Office phone:  822-2520.


Topics/content of the paper:

You are free to choose your own topic for the research paper (though it should be focused on one or more of the works we discussed in class, or questions/concerns/issues raised in one or more of these works).

Should you write on Nietzsche or Foucault, or both?  Here are the guidelines, to ensure that everyone is doing something on each philosopher:

• You could write an essay that discusses both Nietzsche and Foucault (as with one of the suggestions below), or

• If you did an essay or non-traditional artifact on Nietzsche, you can write your research paper solely on Foucault, if you wish. And vice versa: if you did a non-traditional artifact on Foucault, you can write your research paper on Nietzsche only, if you wish.

• If you really want to do something different than these two options, talk with Christina and we’ll see what seems fair.

Within the above guidelines, you could expand one of your earlier essays, or your presentation, into a research paper if you wish (adding a discussion of the other philosopher if needed). There are also some possible topic areas given below, if you find yourself at a loss for ideas.

Possible topic areas: These are not full paper topics; they are general areas that point you in a direction for your research, and out of which you must find a specific argument to make.

• How do Nietzsche and Foucault each use a “genealogical” method in Genealogy of Morality, Discipline and Punish, and/or History of Sexuality Volume I?  What differentiates Foucaudian genealogy from what Nietzsche is doing in GM, and what other aspects of their views underlie why they may have approached genealogy in these different ways?  Is one approach more flawed in some way than the other, or do they reflect very different projects in different historical circumstances?

• Consider the intellectual role Nietzsche and Foucault seem to be taking on in their genealogies—what does each seem to be trying to do with these texts, and what sort of role do they give (directly or indirectly) to the genealogist in realizing such purposes?  How are these roles similar/different in Nietzsche and Foucault?  What are some potential problems with these roles, do they try to address these problems, and are they successful in doing so?

• In what ways do Nietzsche and Foucault establish and/or undermine their own authority in their texts?  Do they attempt to set themselves up as authorities worth listening to, and/or suggest that the audience ought not to follow them, and how/why?  What are some potential problems with their efforts in this regard, and are they able to address these successfully?

• Nietzsche’s GM, one might argue, clearly has a normative, critical stance towards things like slave morality and the ascetic ideal (which is not to say that Nietzsche doesn’t also see some value in those things). Do any of Foucault’s genealogies also provide a normative, critical approach to the topics they discuss? Or is Foucault’s work simply descriptive? Compare/contrast Nietzsche’s GM with one or more of Foucault’s genealogies in this regard.

• Compare/contrast Nietzsche’s view of the creation of the “soul” and bad conscience, as well as the sovereign individual, with Foucault’s discussion of the creation of the individual through disciplinary and bio-power. Are Foucault’s arguments about the “care of the self” and creation of the self as a work of art similar in some way to Nietzsche’s view of the sovereign individual?

• Discuss the rhetorical strategies used by Nietzsche and Foucault in their genealogical works, noting similarities and differences, and what these strategies might be able to do for the authors’ respective audiences. To discuss this well, you should also consider who their respective audiences appear to be, given what and how they argue in their texts.


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