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Paper Titles: Inform by Stating your Topic and Position; Grab the Reader’s Interest If You Can

An effective research paper title will identify the limited subject of the essay, and the position the paper takes on the subject. It may also be useful to grab the reader’s interest with a brief quote or detail, but if your goal is to persuade your reader, your title will also need to inform. Your title is your first opportunity to persuade your reader. Don’t waste it. —Paper Titles: Inform by Stating your…

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Don’t Be Cruel

[M]angled syntax, disordered thinking, and frequent error happen to be hallmarks of a novice writer learning a new discourse. If we incorrectly assume they reflect a lack of effort or character — and base our feedback on that assumption — we do our students a disservice and risk inflicting real damage. | It takes enormous amounts of time and mental energy to craft substantive, constructive comments that will truly help students…

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I Made My Friends Test the 19th Century’s Hottest Dating Tactic: Reading Aloud

There are perfectly good reasons to read aloud that don’t involve skirting Victorian restrictions on the stoking of passions, but I was somewhat amused by this assessment of the place of reading in today’s culture. It reminds me of the story of the local officials who, upon learning that the number of books in a family’s home is a good predictor of a student’s academic success, handed out free books…

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When Students Won’t Do the Reading

Reading this story from IHE recalled my undergraduate class with Austin Quigley (then the chair of the U.Va. English department), who had us write about the newly-published Stoppard play Hapgood. This was in about 1989 or 90, so it was not possible to Google for a plot summary. Even looking up contemporary reviews would have meant a trip to the library microfilm reader. On the day we were to discuss the play — the…

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Books Wield a Dangerous Power

While we might point to violent video games or sexually explicit films as potentially dangerous and corrupting influences on tender or vulnerable minds, the novel is treated as uplifting and salutary, regardless of its content: a kale smoothie for the soul. When we do talk about books being ‘dangerous’, it is usually with a knowing nod and a wink: and the implication is that those of us in the know…

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It not only went VROOM, it carried chunky plastic letters that could *spell* VROOM.

Tonight, when I got home after all the evening’s ballet and piano lessons were over, I was plugging in my laptop at my desk and knocked down a little framed picture — it’s a photo my wife took of me on our first date. (On that same occasion, I also took a picture of her, and it’s framed on the other side of my desk.) I had completely forgotten that…

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The reluctant wisdom of a science major in my freshman writing class.

“There’s nothing left to say,” said a science major in my writing class. I had called on her during a classroom discussion of a peer-review activity. “Everyone’s already said everything.” “You can at least provide a new example from your own paper, or express an idea in your own words,” I said. The student looked skeptical. “What about the revision process?” I prompted. “What’s your next step? Give it a try.”…