Re-read the description of the Final Project assigned for this course. As explained in the introductory lecture, this project counts for 20% of your overall course grade. You'll submit the project in three stages. This is the first of the two preliminary submissions.
For this assignment, you need to answer three questions about your final project: what, how, and why.
1. What are you going to analyze? This answer needs to be specific, defining how much material there is, and exactly where it comes from. For example, you could answer "a recording I made of myself telling a story to my roommate", or "Missy Elliot's latest CD", or "two hours of sports talk radio recorded from 610wip.com on 10/15/2010", or "Scarlett's lines from the sound track of the Gone with the Wind DVD", "the text of U.S. Presidents' Inaugural Addresses, taken from the web site of the American Presidency Project at UCSB", or "a sample of Barack Obama's weekly radio addresses, one per month, taken from www.whitehouse.gov/video", or "Hilda Doolittle reading Helen in Egypt, taken from PennSound".
You should have your selected material in hand. As a result of your futher work, or suggestions from your TA, you may extend or modify this selection later on, but you should have a place to start by the due date of this assignment.
The material does not need to be in English. You can select sets for comparision: e.g. read speeches vs. extemporaneous speeches, or two kinds of news broadcasts, or two different actors or politicians.
2. How are you going to analyze your selected material? Be specific, and give at least one real example of each type of analysis applied to your specific material.
Your answers can be things like "speech rate", "final-rising vs. final-falling pitch contours", "deletion of final /t/ or /d/", "g-dropping", "active vs. passive sentences", "use of be and be like to introduce quotations", "use of metonymy", "interruptions", "depth of clausal embedding", and so on. There are only two requirements: (a) each type of analysis must be applicable, in a reasonably well-defined and reliable way, to particular bits of talk or text; (b) you must deal with at least two levels of linguistic analysis (out of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics).
3. Why is your analysis interesting? What point will you use the analysis to make?
Since you haven't done your analysis yet, the best way to approach this may be to start with the question(s) you will try to answer.There are no limits on this, except for coherence and connection to the analysis you do, so pick something you care about.
During the first couple of months of the course, we'll often point out examples of topics that you might turn into a final project. If you're still trouble finding a topic in early November, talk with your TA or the instructor.
Note that you the sooner you choose a topic and get to work, the better -- but you're free to change your mind if it turns out that your chosen material is not as interesting or as accessible as you thought it would be, or if you find something that appeals to you more.
Links you may find useful:
American Rhetoric ("top 100 speeches" of the 20th century)
Oyez.org (Supreme Court materials, including oral arguments and transcripts)
Miller Center of Public Affairs
(U.S. presidential speeches, oral histories, etc.)
Presidential Recordings Program (the secret JFK, Nixon and LBJ tapes)
Carter speeches, Reagan speeches, Clinton speeches
Oral histories (e.g. National Association of Music Merchants, Vietnam War)
PennSound (Poetry readings)
Radio Times (topical interviews on WHYY)
And of course as always, YouTube, Google, Bing, and Yahoo are your friends....
Note that you should be able to record on your computer from streaming sources, just as you can record selections for this kind of research from audio CDs or from DVDs. If you encounter technical difficulties, ask you TA (or your ITA).