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Booklist and Rationale

The main focus of the Colloquium is a discussion of the works on the student’s Booklist. This list consists of 20 to 25 books that represent several academic disciplines and historical periods related to the theme or themes described in the Rationale—a short paper that describes the main theme or themes the student plans to talk about in the Colloquium. Non-written texts such as works of visual/performance art, films, musical scores and compositions, architecture, and photographs may be included. In all cases, whether the text is written or otherwise, the relationship of each to the student’s concentration should be clear and students should be prepared to engage critically with each text on their list.

The Booklist

In putting together the Booklist, students should think about the texts that have had a significant impact on their thinking and the texts that were important to their course work. Most importantly, students should talk both to their adviser, and other faculty members about texts that may be relevant to the topics they plan to discuss in their Colloquium.

The texts should be of high quality-the kind of books or other works students encountered in their courses-they do not have to be part of a recognized canon of “great books” or “masterpieces.” Students should avoid pop fiction, how-to manuals, self-help books, and textbooks unless they plan to engage critically with these genres.

Items on the Booklist should be identified with complete bibliographic information, including full title, name of author, and date of publication. The Colloquium Booklist should consist of 20 to 25 books, arranged according to the following four sections:

  1. Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Classics
    At least seven works produced before the mid-1600s
  2. Modernity—The Humanities
    At least four works, produced after the mid-1600s, in Humanities disciplines such as Literature, Philosophy, History, the Arts, Critical Theory, and Religion
  3. Modernity—The Social and Natural Sciences
    At least four nonfiction works, produced after the mid-1600s, in the Natural Sciences and Social Science disciplines such as Political Science, Economics, Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology
  4. Area of Concentration
    At least five additional works representing the student's area or areas of concentration; for those students whose area of concentration already appears among the above categories, simply choose five additional works from these categories.

The Rationale

The Rationale is a short (five to eight pages) paper that provides a foundation and scaffolding for the conversation the student will have at their Colloquium. The Rationale focuses on ideas, questions, and lines of inquiry that have emerged from the pursuit of the student’s concentration, and which they find particularly compelling. These ideas should be discussed in reflection with several texts drawn from all areas of the Booklist. This should be interdisciplinary (connecting different fields and methods) and historically aware (connecting different times and places).

A strong Rationale shows the student’s ability to engage with the scholarly debates and divergent perspectives relevant to their Colloquium topic. In particular, the texts from the Booklist should be put in conversation with each other so as to illuminate and illustrate the ideas at the core of the student’s Colloquium. The student should use this disciplinary, historical, and cultural diversity to examine the concentration from multiple viewpoints and lay out fruitful topics for Colloquium discussion. The Rationale is not expected to have an argument or thesis. Rather, it should have a tentative, speculative approach. It should embrace uncertainty and unresolved questions: it is a map for a conversation, not an encyclopedia entry.

The Rationale should be proofread carefully for spelling, grammar, and the format of citations (if any). It should not involve significant jargon, and should be understandable by readers from a variety of fields.

Because it is preferred that students complete the Colloquium in the penultimate semester, students should schedule the writing and submission of the Rationale to ensure adequate time for revisions, adviser approval, and the approval of a second reviewer. For students graduating in May, adviser-approved Rationales must be submitted to Gallatin (using the online form) no later than November 1. For students graduating in September, the deadline will be April 1. For students graduating in January, the deadline will be October 1. Seniors who fail to submit a Rationale by the deadline will have a registration hold placed on their accounts. The hold will remain in place until the student has submitted an adviser-approved Rationale.

Sample Rationales, IAPCs, and Booklists

To assist students and advisers with the development of an individualized concentration, the Gallatin faculty has created a website consisting of several annotated samples of students' Rationales, Booklists, and Intellectual Autobiography and Plan for Concentration (IAPC) essays. Gallatin students and advisers can access this website by selecting this link: Sample Rationales, Booklists, and IAPCs. This page will open in a new window, and users must enter their NYU NetID and password before being able to access the site. Students should discuss these samples with their advisers, as every concentration will have unique needs not accounted for in these examples.



The Approval Process for the Booklist and Rationale  

The Rationale and the Booklist must be formally approved by the student’s adviser and another member of the Gallatin faculty. The purpose of this review is to ensure that the Rationale clearly describes the main themes to be discussed in the Colloquium, and that the Booklist has been prepared in accordance with the general requirements.

Adviser Approval

While students should have ongoing discussions with their advisers about the Rationale and Booklist, these documents must be submitted to the adviser for formal approval far in advance of the deadline for submission to the Gallatin School. Because the typical Rationale goes through several drafts before the adviser approves it, this allows time for the adviser to suggest changes and, if necessary, for the student to revise.

Gallatin School Approval

After the Booklist and Rationale have been approved by the student's adviser, the student should submit them both no later than the deadline below in a single word document to the Gallatin Advising office for final approval by a full-time member of the Gallatin faculty. Students who miss the deadline will have a registration hold placed on their accounts.  The hold will remain in place until an adviser-approved Rationale has been submitted to Gallatin.

The faculty reviewer or “second reviewer” may approve the Booklist and Rationale or require changes. In either case, if the Rationale was submitted on time, the student will be notified by e-mail approximately 3-4 weeks after the initial submission.

If the Rationale is approved with no revisions, the student may begin planning for the Colloquium immediately.

If minor revisions are required, the student may begin planning for the Colloquium. However, students should make the changes required by the faculty reviewer and return the revised draft of the Rationale and Booklist to Gallatin in advance of the Colloquium.

If major revisions are required, the student should discuss the reviewer’s comments with his or her adviser and revise the Rationale and/or Booklist accordingly. The revised Booklist and Rationale must be re-submitted to the adviser for approval, and then re-submitted to Gallatin for final approval before the student can begin planning for the Colloquium. 

Deadlines for Submission of Adviser-Approved Rationale

Seniors who fail to submit the adviser-approved Rationale to Gallatin by the deadline below will have a registration hold placed on their accounts. The hold will remain in place until an adviser-approved Rationale has been submitted to Gallatin.

Students planning to graduate in:The adviser-approved Rationale must be submitted to Gallatin no later than:
January October 1
May November 1
September April 1

Submitting the Booklist and Rationale

To submit, please visit Booklist and Rationale and complete the form.