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List of Works and Rationale

During the 2021-2022 academic year, students should consult with their committee members to determine the modality for the Colloquium (remote, hybrid, or in person). Gallatin will reserve rooms for hybrid or in-person Colloquia. If a Colloquium is conducted in a hybrid or remote mode, the faculty adviser should circulate a Zoom link to all remote participants.


The Colloquium is a discussion between the student, the student's adviser, and another faculty member about the student’s “List of Works,” of the relation of these works to the student’s concentration, and of issues and concepts that have arisen in the student’s studies. This list consists of 20 to 25 works that represent several academic disciplines and historical periods related to the concepts, problems, issues or questions described in the Rationale and that reflect the student’s focus in their concentration. 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 work 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 work on their list. Students should also consider how the works on their list speak to each other.


The List of Works

In putting together the List of Works, students should think about works that have had a significant impact on their thinking and those that were important to their courses. Most importantly, students should talk to their adviser about works that may be relevant to the topics they plan to discuss in their Colloquium.

The list should consist of the kind of texts, art works, objects, music, or other materials students have encountered in their studies. What matters most is that these works be significant for the student's inquiry. Normally, students should avoid how-to manuals, self-help books, and most textbooks unless they plan to engage critically with these genres.

The list must include works that indicate the student’s having considered questions across geographical, historical, cultural, and political perspectives. Works must be drawn from more than one single region of the world.

Consisting of 20 to 25 items, the List of Works is divided into four categories. The list must include:

  1. four works from the Humanities produced after the mid-1600s, in Humanities fields such as Literature (including works of literature as well as literary criticism), Philosophy, History, the Arts, Critical Theory, and Religion;
  2. four works from the Social and/or Natural Sciences that should be nonfiction works, produced after the mid-1600s, in the Natural Sciences (such as Biology, Neuroscience, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Astronomy) and Social Science disciplines (such as Political Science, Economics, Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology)
  3. seven works from premodern or early modern periods
  4. five works that point specifically to your concerns in your concentration.

Some of the selected 20 to 25 works must also directly indicate how the student’s inquiry relates to debates about how knowledge is shaped by place, power and history. In fulfilling these contextualization requirements, students need not exceed the 20-25 works required for the List--indeed, most should not. (Students can consult the List of Works Guidelines and Suggestions to view a Sample List of Works.):

  • At least four of the selected 20 to 25 works should place the colloquium issues or questions in cultural, political and geographical contexts, including perspectives from the global south or from parts of the world outside of the regions in which you are focusing your concentration.
  • At least four of the selected 20 to 25 works should help the student explore the colloquium themes and questions from an historical perspective. Thinking historically can mean examining the continuities and discontinuities of the object of study, theme, concept or problem with its earlier and later manifestations in order to help us understand its transformation over time. Taking an historical perspective can also mean examining the object of study in relation to contemporaneous ideas and phenomena in order to help us understand the meaning of the object in relation to its own historical moment

For example, a work in the social science category may serve also as a work that historicizes issues and concerns, or a work from the premodern world can serve as a work that provides access to other geographies or to perspectives from the global south. Similarly, a work that approaches questions from within a cultural context outside that of most other works on the student’s list might also fulfill the historicizing requirement.


Guidelines and Questions you may wish to consider when preparing your Rationale and Colloquium.


Thinking Historically

How do some of the works on your list help you to situate your topic in relation to a range of temporal contexts? How have your objects of study developed and changed over time? What is the specific history of the concept, issue, problem or theme(s) that you would like to explore at the colloquium?

What prior and future ideas does your object refer to, revise, or anticipate? Which contemporaneous ideas does it echo and which does it resist?

How do works from different time periods provide you with a lens through which to view your topic differently and in relation to particular cultural, economic, political, or aesthetic concerns of the period in which the work was produced? Does taking a long historical point of view shed light on your themes or questions? If the questions that you are pursuing are in themselves focused on earlier periods, what impact do they seem to have had on contemporary perspectives on the same topics?


Regarding Cultural and Political Contexts

How might your central themes and questions be understood in different cultural and political contexts? What are the cultural, geographical or political contexts in which the works you have chosen were produced? How can bringing in perspectives from different cultural, geographical and political contexts complicate your understanding of your topic, themes, and questions? How might having a discussion of works that span several continents, particularly works that are non-Western or from the global south, substantially enrich your understanding?

How might the works on the list reflect on or challenge the power relationships in the society in which they were produced? In what ways do they reflect on or challenge power relationships more globally? Do the works you have chosen illuminate or provide a critique of the many kinds of inequality that characterize the world in the present time, and have characterized it in the past as well?


Interdisciplinary Thinking

At Gallatin, you have been encouraged to think interdisciplinarily. What have you learned about your topic through the lens of an interdisciplinary inquiry?

Do the different disciplines represented on your List of Works illuminate the questions guiding your rationale and colloquium in particular ways? How do they produce distinct ways of knowing your subject matter? If your studies have been largely centered in one particular discipline, what insights can you gain from examining your topic from another vantage point?



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 works drawn from all areas of the List of Works. 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 works from the List of Works 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.

The Approval Process for the List of Works and Rationale

The Rationale and the List of Works must be formally approved by the student’s adviser, who may opt to request a second review by another member of the Gallatin faculty. When the primary adviser thinks the student would benefit from a review, the Rationale will be sent to a second reader. 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 List of Works has been prepared in accordance with the general requirements.

Adviser Approval

While students should have ongoing discussions with their advisers about the Rationale and List of Works, these documents should be submitted to the adviser for their review 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. The expectation for approval of the Rationale includes both coherent, substantial content and a high standard of copy editing.

Gallatin School Approval

After a student has discussed the List of Works and Rationale with their adviser, the student should submit them by the deadline below in a single word document to the Gallatin Office of Advising. 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 adviser may approve the List of Works and Rationale, or request a review from a "second reader." If the adviser approves, the student may schedule the Colloquium immediately. If the adviser requests a second reader review, the student must wait for the review before scheduling the Colloquium. The second reader may simply approve the rationale without other comment, but when revisions are required, the second reader will give written guidance on where and how improvements could be made. 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 List of Works to Gallatin in advance of the Colloquium.

If major revisions are required, the student should discuss the reviewer’s comments with their adviser and revise the Rationale and/or List of Works accordingly. The revised List of Works 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.

Expected GraduationAdviser-Approved Rationale Submission Deadline  
January October 1
May November 1
September April 1

Submitting the List of Works and Rationale

To submit, please visit List of Works and Rationale and complete the form.