April 17, 2008 Archives
Paper 2 is a researched term paper (about 15 pages) that uses evidence from our assigned readings and outside scholarship (including peer-reviewed academic articles, but optionally also including essays, fiction, and other intellectually significant material) to defend a non-obvious claim about the history of the book, as seen through print and/or digital culture.
Just as it was acceptable for you to refer to digital culture in Paper 1, I'm perfectly willing to let you refer to oral/manuscript culture for Paper 2, but the thesis should somehow address material we have covered more recently.
As you know by now, I don't assign paper topics; coming up with a good topic is part of the assignment, and we will devote class time to it.
A 15-page research paper is not something to attempt in one sitting, or one weekend.
Start researching now, so that you can find peer-reviewed academic sources now, before you have committed to a topic.
Review -- see the tips I posted for Ex 3. Remember especially this example, in which the first and last paragraph model good academic writing, but the middle section is wordy and vague:
Quotations can make or break an academic argument. Some quotations, like the ones Johnson calls "the bedrock of scholarly discourse" (35), are "tightly integrated into the very fabric of the argument" (Smith 234). The author carefully selects "the juciest, most meaning-laden words" (Lee 125) from multiple different authors, and works them into "an original chain of thoughts" (Johnson 131) linked by a structure designed to guide the reader toward a "non-obvious conclusion" (Brown 101).
But I also want to talk about a different kind of quotation -- one that the author prefaces with a wordy introduction that wastes words by referring directly to the mechanics of scholarly work. We see an example of this kind of wordy, inefficient use of an outside source in the way that I am introducing the next quotation.
When an author spends two or three sentences calling attention to the fact that a good quote is coming that will illustrate a certain point, the author has usually already made that point through paraphrase by the time the quote actually comes around. Continuing with a paragraph that summarizes the outside author's main point makes the quote itself even more painfully extraneous. (McTeague 156)
As this quote shows, the habit of first talking in general about a topic, then quoting a long passage that supports a specific claim, and then following up with several more sentences that summarize the content of the quote, distracts from the author's ability to support an original argument. McTeague is saying that the habit of writing three separate sections -- the introduction, the quote itself, and the explanation of the quote -- can be very wordy, if you think in terms of writing several sentences for each section. You can generate a lot of words that fill the page, but the redundancy means that those words will contain few ideas.
On the other hand, a scholarly argument that quotes only the "most meaning-laden words" (Lee 125) not only avoids redundancy, but "results in more persuasive arguments" (McTeague 158) that enable both reader and writer to "engage with abstract ideas on a more advanced level" (Smith 230).
Please write two agenda items.