One the most difficult aspects of writing a college humanities paper is choosing the paper topic. Students often anguish over trying to come up with the perfect paper topic to impress the professors. However, the best way to choose a paper topic is to begin very broadly with an area that interests you and make that the basis for your paper-writing decision. When you choose a topic that fascinates you and captures your attention, the entire paper-writing process goes much faster and easier.
Review your textbook to gain a broad understanding of the possible range of topics in the humanities. You have a nearly limitless range of possible topics in this field from which you can choose, unless your professor has placed some limits on the types of subjects you can choose. Humanities papers can cover topics like history, religion, philosophy, art, music, architecture or any other representation of human culture.
Brainstorm to create a list of topics of interest to you. Choose topics that have broad parameters. For instance, as you list possible topics, select those like Christianity, art in the Roman Empire, medieval society or the Italian Renaissance rather than a narrow topic like types of clothing worn by 17th century aristocratic French women. Starting with a broad topic and narrowing it down is easier than starting with a narrow topic and trying to expand it.
Narrow your topic to two or three possibilities most interesting to you. Consult with your professor to ensure that the topics you are considering are acceptable for her class. This will help you avoid the heartache associated with having to redo your paper if the topic is not acceptable.
Conduct preliminary research to determine whether you will have enough resources at your disposal to write an adequate paper. A good rule of thumb for college humanities papers is to have at least one resource for each page of required text that you have to write. For instance, a ten-page paper should have at least ten sources in the form of books or articles. If you can only find one or two sources for your topic, you may need to choose another. Places to check for source material include your library's electronic card catalog, Internet searches and electronic journal databases like EBSCO and JSTOR.
Choose your topic and begin writing your paper.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.