Research Projects (due for Winesburg, Ohio and Rule of the Bone), relating to the study of novels are meant to do some of the following things: (a) Analyse in depth the available scholarship on the novel(s) so as to be able to say whether much is still to be done, or to make a comparative evaluation of the existing material in the field. (b) Study the form and technique used in a novel or set of novels in order to bring to the reader the best possible ways of entering the world of the text(s) and appreciating the novels in question. (c) Make observations on the practice/analysis of the reading of the kind of novel selected. In this category the making of novel-summaries would be a significant criterion. (d) Making annotated bibliographies for future research on the subject.
The use of scholarly journals, books, the internet, questionnaires, handouts, interviews, etc. would be required in such research projects and of course the familiarity with MLA and other style formatting and referencing. Readers and their understanding of novels would help in the project. Readers often recreate novels and are the real owners of the novels’ meanings.
No project on the novel can be achieved without making a survey of the theories of fiction available right from the ideas of Henry James, Percy Lubbock E.M. Forster, and Frank Kermode to begin with. In the second set of authors, Wayne C. Booth would figure in a significant way among the theorists along with scholars like David Lodge. Along with Booth would figure a number of his predecessors like some Russian Formalists and some Structuralists. The latter and those that follow them can of course be writing more theory for theory’s sake than for the sake of the novels they are supposed to handle. Yet a successful research project on fiction cannot ignore these. It may not even ignore certain contemporary ways of looking at narrative like the one employed by David Herman and others – one that uses cognitive sciences to study the novel and vice versa.