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Booklist + 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 representing 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 non-written, the relationship of each to the students’ concentration should be clear, and students should be prepared to engage each text on their list critically.  

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 important, 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.

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; students whose area of concentration already appears among the above categories may simply choose five additional works from these categories.

The Rationale

Students are required to submit a five- to eight-page rationale about the topic or topics they plan to discuss in the colloquium. In describing the main theme or themes the student plans to talk about in the colloquium, the rationale should refer to several of the books on the booklist, particularly those that may not be very well known. It may also include a discussion of the student’s intellectual development, area of concentration, internships, independent studies, courses and extracurricular projects, but the rationale should place primary focus on explaining the topics the student wants to discuss in the colloquium.

The Booklist and Rationale Approval Process

The rationale and the book list must be formally approved by your 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 book list has been prepared in accordance with the general requirements.

Adviser Approval

While you should have ongoing discussions with your adviser about your rationale and book list, these documents must be submitted to your adviser for formal approval far in advance of the deadline for submission to the Gallatin School. This allows time for your adviser to suggest changes and, if necessary, for you to revise. 

Gallatin School Approval

After your book list and rationale have been approved by your adviser, you should submit them both in a single word document to the Gallatin Advising office for final approval by a member of the Gallatin faculty. The faculty reviewer or “second reviewer” may approve the list and rationale or require changes. In either case, if you submitted your rationale on time, you will be notified by e-mail approximately 3-4 weeks after your initial submission.

If your rationale is approved with no revisions, you may begin planning for the colloquium immediately.

If minor revisions are required, you may begin planning for the colloquium. However, you should make the changes required by the faculty reviewer and return your revised draft of the rationale and booklist to Gallatin in advance of your colloquium.

If major revisions are required, you should discuss the reviewer’s comments with your adviser and revise the rationale and/or book list accordingly. The revised list and rationale must be re-submitted to your adviser for approval, and then re-submitted to Gallatin for final approval before you can begin planning for the colloquium. 

Submitting the Booklist and Rationale

To submit your booklist and rationale, please visit this page.