The major requirement for this course is the production of an analytical, annotated bibliography for some subject area pertinent to the course. An analytical annotated bibliography for a subject is a report on what the scholarly literature about that subject has to say about some specific questions. The term 'analytical' indicates that the literature has been analysed for responses to specific questions.

An analytical, annotated bibliography is not just another term paper. In particular, it's not just an "information dump" consisting of "what I learned about X". It is the result of searching the literature for answers to specific questions about a narrowly specified topic. It is a report on what the literature says about the subject -- not a report on the subject. It includes description of individual pieces of literature examined -- annotations (see below). The focus is on the literature. The specific questions you put to the literature should be clearly evident in all your work.


The subject for your bibliography will typically be some technology, e. g. canal irrigation, used (sometime) during the pre-European period in some part of Mesoamerica. The subject scope should be chosen so that (roughly) 10-to-15 article size items comprise all the recent, scholarly journal literature on the subject. You should adjust the space, time and substance parameters of your subject to arrive at a manageable amount of literature.

You may choose a geographic area within Mesoamerica outside those explicitly considered in the lectures -- e. g. West Mexico.

You may focus on specific "sites", e. g. Monte Alban, or methodological problems, e. g. estimating prehistoric population, rather than specific technologies provided you can produce a suitable "analytical framework" (see below) for your focus.

The restriction to recent, scholarly journal literature is crucial. You should be looking at the 10 -to-15 most recent articles about your topic published in scholarly journals. You should be looking for material published within the last 10 years. In some cases, the most recent work on your topic may be older.

For purposes of this course, a scholarly journal is a publication whose articles contain a bibliography. American Antiquity is a leading scholarly journal in this field. Science, and Scientific American also count as scholarly journals. Time, Newsweek, and other journalistic publications do not. Articles from collections of articles published in book form are acceptable, provided they contain a bibliography. Book length monographs usually just summarize journal literature and thus do not report the "cutting edge" of research. You should probably avoid them. At least, check with me before using them. One thing I DO NOT WANT is a "book report" -- a paper based on a single book.


Access to literature for this project is discussed in the accompanying course handout titled, LITERATURE RESOURCES.


An analytical, annotated bibliography approaches the literature looking for answers to specific questions. This is the analytical framework for the bibliography. If you focus on a specific technology, the questions you will put to the literature are these:

  1. What was the function or purpose of this technology.
  2. What other "functionally equivalent technologies" -- those that could plausibly have been employed at the same time and place to perform the same function -- were available.
  3. Why/how did the actual technology, rather than other functionally equivalent technologies, come to be used.


Your ANALYSIS should:

  1. Identify explicit or implicit answers to these questions in the literature;
  2. In the case that only one answer is apparent, critically evaluate the evidence presented for that answer;
  3. In the case that different answers appear, contrast and compare different answers to the same questions and critically evaluate the evidence presented for each;
  4. In the case that no answer is apparent:
    1. try to explain why the question has not been addressed (to do this effectively, you will need to say what questions the literature DOES address);
    2. sketch the empirical and analytical work required to address the question;
    3. speculate about the probable outcome of this work.
If you choose to focus on something other than a specific technology, it is your responsability to provide (i.e. include in your proposal) a comparable analytical framework for your work.


Your paper MUST contain an introductory section of about 2-3 pages explaining how the paper is related to the major themes of the course. To provide this section, you must do the reading and follow the lectures. You may also want to look at the PERSPECTIVES in the syllabus. This part of the paper takes the place of a final examination.


OPTION 1: Traditional Format:

Your product should have the following FORMAT.

More specific information about the required format is provided in the accompanying " FORMAT MEMO ".

OPTION 2: Hypertext Format:

Your product should have the following FORMAT.

More specific information about the required format is provided in the accompanying " FORMAT MEMO ". Information pertinent the hypertext documents is currently in preparation. Consult the instructor for further information.


An 15 min ORAL PRESENTATION (10 min formal presentation; 5 min discussion) based on the paper is required. Be sure your presentation will fall within these limits.


Work on this paper will be organized as follows:


On or before this date, a proposal (1-2 pages) together with a tentative bibliography will be submitted. The proposal should describe your subject as well as its relevance to the course and indicate how you propose to carry out the analysis on the literature in the accompanying bibliography. It should say how you will answer my questions about specific technologies or how you will answer YOUR QUESTIONS about the topic of your choice.

10/05 - 10/07

You will discuss your proposed paper with the instructor in a proposal conference scheduled for about 1/4 hour outside of class time.


Prior to this date, you will submit a first draft of your product for criticism and return by 11/16. I cannot guarantee consideration of first drafts submitted later.

12/07 - 12/09

Each student will make a paper presentation (10 min. presentation, 5 min. discussion) in which the results of his/her work will be presented to the class. The presentation should be illustrated with suitable graphics.



Colorado School of Mines
Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies
Dr. Joseph D. Sneed