Proposal Guidelines

Writing a strong proposal is the first step to success in completing your Project Report. Be prepared to take feedback and revise it multiple times. Generally, your Supervisor will not approve your proposal until they are confident that you’re ready to begin writing your Project Report. Time and effort spent on making the proposal really clear (and clearly understood by both you and your Supervisor) is much more efficient than time spent revising the report itself.

Proposals should be four pages in length, and should include the following: 

  1. A brief description of the topic (~250 words) 
  2. A detailed outline of the Project Report, including 
    • chapter titles
    • 1-2 sentence summaries of each chapter, and 
    • anticipated word counts for each chapter. 
  3. A preliminary Works Cited indicating that you have begun to identify sources for your Report.


PUB 898 Project Proposal: Cassandra (Casey) McCarthy

Flowerchildren, theatrical happenings and conceptual art at the “Instant University”: Rediscovering Simon Fraser University’s creative past through picture research 

(Working title)

September 9, 2021

In Summer 2021, I completed my MPub internship with the Simon Fraser University Retirees Association (SFURA), a non-profit, volunteer-run organization planning a self-published book, which will be preceded by a companion website. The website and book will provide a retrospective of the Centre for Communications and the Arts (CCA), which operated during Simon Fraser University’s radical first decade (1965–75). My final project will describe my contribution to this retrospective as a picture researcher. My goal is to explain the processes, considerations – archival, editorial and legal – and the partnerships at play in curating and publishing these largely forgotten visual materials. My goal is to document and discuss how I inform the publication of SFURA’s forthcoming website and book through describing my picture research methods, including identification, selection and clearance of 50-year-old images.

I will begin my project by introducing the broader context of the retrospective website and book. I will outline the SFURA’s relationship to the university and their motivations for preserving the history of the CCA at the present time.

The second section will focus on editorial aspects of picture research, that is uncovering and framing historical narrative through images. I will examine how the retrospective is anticipated to impact and interplay with the construction of institutional memories. Related to institutional memory, I will provide a brief overview of the subject matter: the CCA. I will trace the history of the arts at SFU and its continuing legacy, as the CCA evolved into the School for Contemporary Arts, School of Communications and SFU Galleries. To provide context beyond the university, I will analyse comparable and define the genre of retrospective or commemorative publishing.

In the third – and most significant – section of my project, I will discuss working with archival materials and archivists. I will describe the picture research methods applied over the course of my work, including considerations related to materiality and digitization. I will focus on the University Archives, as I have cultivated a strong partnership and familiarity with their work and processes. This includes partnering with University Archives to identify resources and digitize materials and the researcher’s role in community outreach, identifying potential donors and relationship building.  

The fourth section of my project will focus on legal issues, specifically copyright as a concern in publishing archival images. I will outline some of the best practices related to risk management, highlighting orphaned works, or works where the author is not identifiable or reachable.  

Finally, I will close my project with a discussion of lessons learned and future directions for the project. Ultimately, this project report will contribute a practical model to guide the future publication of retrospective books and websites created at SFU, and other (not-for-profit) groups seeking to preserve institutional memories and cultural heritage, including charities, museums and arts organizations.

Proposed Project Outline:

  • Introduction: Retrospective publishing as a journey to the past (100 words)
    • The Authors/Publishers: Simon Fraser University Retirees’ Association (100 words)
      • Past book, decision to self-publish (100 words)
      • Unique position, relationship with the university: departmental partnerships, knowledge-sharing and access to resources (100 words)
    • The Project: A Retrospective of the arts in the first decade of SFU (1965–75) (100 words)
      • Motivations and timeliness: The SFU Art Museum announcement (100 words)
      • Book vs. website (100 words)
    • Section total: 700 words
  • Editorial Considerations: Storytelling and articulating institutional memories through picture research (300 words)
    • The Subject Matter: The Centre for Communications and The Arts (CCA), the story and characters (500 words)
      • Institutional memory: The legacy of the CCA (100 words)
    • Challenges and limitations with memory, agreeing on narratives, uncovering historical details, facts, materials, people (300 words)
      • Using photography and images to construct meaning and narrative, organize ideas (500 words)
    • Section total: 1,700 words
    • Running total: 2,400 words
  • Editorial Considerations: Genre and audience (100 words)
    • Defining the “organization retrospective” or “commemorative book” (400 words)
    • Examples and Analysis of Comparable Titles (500 words)
    • Section total: 1,000 words
    • Running total: 3,400 words
  • Archival considerations: Picture research methods in the archival setting (200 words)
    • University Archives: Keepers of institutional memory (300 words)
      • Description of archival materials and organization of the archives (500 words)
      • Services and collaborative role in research (500 words)
    • How publishers can collaborate with archives to discover and preserve the forgotten past (300 words)
      • The researcher’s role in community outreach, discovery and referring donations to the archives (700 words)
    • Section total: 2,500 words
    • Running total: 5,900 words
  • Archival Considerations: Taking images from the archival “fonds” to the (web)page (200 words)
    • Materiality and digitization (600 words)
      • Photography: understanding archival materials in our digital world (600 words)
    • Curating images: considerations related book production and web design (300 words)
    • Section total: 1,700 words
    • Running total: 7,600 words
  • Legal Considerations: Copyright and risk management (100 words)
    • Archival materials and copyright “owners”: challenges identifying creators, collaborative and multi-disciplinary works, institutional and corporate authors (200 words)
    • Orphaned works: balancing authorship considerations with forgotten history (500 words)
    • Taking actions and keeping organized: Consent, clearance and “paper trails” (100 words)
    • Section total: 1,000 words
    • Running total: 8,600 words
  • Future directions (200 words)
    • Differentiating the book from the website, while working in complement (200 words)
    • Key learnings and recommendation for similar retrospective projects (500 words)
    • Section total: 900 words
    • Running total: 9,500 words
  • Conclusions (500 words)
    • Section total: 500 words
    • Running total: 10,000 words

Proposed Sources:

Bernard, Sheila Curran and Kenn Rabin. Archival Storytelling: a Filmmaker’s Guide to Finding, Using, and Licensing Third-Party Visuals and Music. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2020.

Azoulay, Ariella. “What Is a Photograph? What Is Photography?” Philosophy of Photography 1, no. 1 (2010): 9–13.

Birkin, Jane. Archive, Photography and the Language of Administration. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021.

Johnston, Hugh. Radical Campus: Making Simon Fraser University. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2005. 

Peters, Michael A, and Tina Besley. “Digital Archives in the Cloud: Collective Memory, Institutional Histories and the Politics of Information.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 51, no. 10 (2019): 1020–29.

Thomson, Irene. The Communications Centre: Experiment in human experience. The Peak, May 11, 1966, 6–7.

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