Interdisciplinary Essay Survival Guide

Sample Topic:  Bereavement and Pets

I love cats.  After my great-uncle died, I wondered if a companion animal would help my great-aunt deal with bereavement, loneliness, and grief.  The subject interested me so much that I thought I'd take a deeper look at the subject.

What I want to investigate:  How a cat can help a recently widowed woman get through a difficult time. 

Background and History: 
When did people start having cats as pets?  Why?  How attached are people to their pet cats?  When did the extreme level of affection begin?

Companion Cats and the Humanities: 
Movies -- cats and their owners -- images of devotion, companionship
Literature (novels, short stories, poetry) featuring cats who are companions to their owners during times of emotional crisis.

Cat, Grieving Owners and the Social Sciences:
Psychological aspects of the relationship between a pet and its owner.  Sociological trends -- statistics, trends.

Cats, their Grieving Owners and Natural Sciences: 
Neurobiology and chemistry of depression.  Cats -- life spans, behavior.  Cat behavior and instincts -- how they view humans and why.  Cat brains.  Cat species and their dominant characteristics.  Which is a good match for a person and why?

Specific Example from Life (Case Study)

Personal Opinions and Conclusions after Investigating the Topic:
Do I buy Aunt Frizzie a calico cat?  Or, do I investigate an exotic cat -- possibly a white tiger?  Why?  Why not?  My conclusions...

graphics & survival guide © 2003 by susan smith nash, ph.d.