- No class on Thursday Oct 5th
- Crucible is seeking contributions
- Reviewing Papers
- Using Statistics
I got the following email:
I’m Erika Siebring, secretary for UNC’s student-run art and literary magazine “The Crucible.”
I’m contacting various departments to help spread the word about our fall 2017 publication! We are encouraging students to submit their work–whether it be prose, poetry, short stories, essays, plays, comics, photos, paintings or any kind of art–for our magazine.
This semester, our theme is “Voyage,” and the submission deadline is 11:59 p.m Friday, October 20. The theme is meant to spark inspiration, and can be taken as literary or figuratively as the individual wants; the theme can mean different things to different people, and that variety is exactly what we are looking for.
I’m requesting that the professors of each department tell their classes about The Crucible and that we are looking for submissions of any sort up until the October 20 deadline. We believe the talent we’re looking expands past the walls of the English department, and we want to reach out to as many students as possible all around campus.
The mission of The Crucible is to showcase excellent student and community work as well as UNC’s artistic talent, and we hope our published magazine will do exactly that.
I’ve finished grading the paper #1 finals and are about 1/3 of the way through the paper #2 finals. There’s one thing I want to stress: stop using the paragraph layout I provided a few weeks ago in final drafts. The layout works as a heuristic, or a rhetorical strategy to help you develop your ideas. But, reading these essays, it feels weird for me to wait 3 paragraphs for your critique or praise of a source. Those paragraphs can probably go back to back. So: use it if it helps you generate ideas. Rearrange your writing to make it more organic and develop more logically as you revise.
One paper had the following introduction:
America claims to be all about equality. Well how “equally” is America treating the transgender community? When the transgender community is being discriminated by their healthcare providers and they are not allowed the same benefits? They are harassed, treated poorly and rudely, they are denied medical attention. So America, tell me, how are you treating everyone equally when you can’t even give everyone the same medical benefits?
This introduction expresses the author’s outrage. It expresses her belief that America is acting hypocritically. My issue is that it does these things through a series of rhetorical questions. How can we revise this paragraph to transform those rhetorical questions into statements?
When crafting a transition into a quote, precise diction can be key. You want to be able to condense a longer quote into a single sentence. Look at this example:
Alicia Swiz, of Feministing, talks about an inclusive dress code that was put in place for students to have freedom of expression while remaining part of a safe learning environment. She talks about how a high school in Illinois, Evanston Township High School, used a template by Oregon NOW (National Organization for Women, Oregon) to form a new dress code that promotes the statement of,
“Student dress codes and administrative enforcement should not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, household income, gender identity or cultural observance (Oregon NOW, 2016).”
The writer makes the right moves here, but the transition is a bit awkward and flat. What we need here is an adjective, so that the transition reads like this: “She talks about how a high school in Illinois, Evanston Township High School, used a template by Oregon NOW (National Organization for Women, Oregon) to form a new [adjective] dress code:”
One paper this week stood out to me as an excellent example for how to craft a thesis statement. Again, I am hesitant to use the term “thesis statement” for a couple of reasons. First, they come with a lot of baggage from high school. Some people do a terrible job explaining what a thesis is and/or have loaded the term with dread. Second, good papers often don’t have “a” thesis statement (i.e., articulating the thesis of the paper might require more than one sentence). For me, the thesis of a paper is an explanation of the article’s purpose or argument, along with a road map for how the author hopes to get there. The first is an absolute requirement. The second is necessarily as popular in public writing, but is pretty essential to good academic writing.
Ok, let’s look at how I do this. Here is what I would call the thesis for an article I co-authored called “Postpedagogy and Web Writing” (an article about how and why I teach this class in the “peculiar” way I do):
This article is divided into two major sections. The first section further explicates the concept of postpedagogy, highlighting its suitability to web writing. In short, postpedagogy advocates a critical and self-reflexive re-inhabiting of teacher authority and an insistence on kairotic, emergent, “risky” learning. The second section details how we have enacted such a model, in a variety of first-year and upper-division courses over the past six years. Taken together, the two sections demonstrate how writing for an English class and writing for the real world no longer have to be two separate enterprises. That boundary is now a matter of choice, rather than one of logistical necessity.
This paragraph comes a few pages in, well after we have laid out the purpose for the article (we do that in the first paragraph). It is meant to give a reader a sense of what is coming, a “road map” for the turns the article will make.
Here’s another example from a book chapter on Bruno Latour’s plan for reconnecting academics to politics:
This chapter begins by briefly unpacking Latour’s Non-Modern Constitution, tracing its development through his earlier writings to its explication in Politics of Nature. We then review two of Kant’s critical pieces on the role and scope of higher education, his early essay “An answer to the question ‘What is enlightenment?’” (1996) and his later, and more controversial manuscript, Conflict of the faculties (1979). Our analysis contextualizes Kant’s call for the separation of public and private duty in light of the snarly religious/political field of late 18th century Germany. Then, we detail contemporary politics’ increasing encroachment upon curriculum and funding across all levels of education. While contemporary scholars might not face the same “unpleasant measures” that Kant did, there are clear risks associated with reintegrating academic labor into the public sphere. However, despite these risks, academics must commit themselves to political action. Academics cannot remain idle; they must act before it is too late. We close by offering strategies and tactics (de Certeau, 1984) for instituting Latour’s Non-Modern Constitution. As a strategy, we present the University of South Florida’s recently approved Patel College of Global Sustainability, an interdisciplinary college dedicated to increasing scientific knowledge’s impact in the public sphere.
My point is that good writers let the audience know what’s coming. With that in mind, I want to look at one of the recent papers because I think it shows a good opportunity for this kind of road mapping. But first…
Good paraphrasing is an essential academic skill. Over the next 4 years, you will be asked to read thousands of pages of material. You will be asked to write dozens of papers on that reading. Improving your ability to concisely and accurately condense other people’s ideas into your own words is essential.
NOTE that in academic writing paraphrases require a parenthetical citation. In public writing, paraphrases are always attributed to a specific author (like when I grade and make sure there is no confusion between a source’s ideas and your own). For instance, take the following paragraph from a writer named Thompson:
Differentiation as an instructional approach promotes a balance between a student’s style and a student’s ability. Differentiated instruction provides the student with options for processing and internalizing the content, and for constructing new learning in order to progress academically.
Here is how I would paraphrase that quote in MLA citation:
Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each student’s skill (Thompson, 2009).
Here is how I would paraphrase that quote and attribute the author:
Thompson explains how teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and each student’s skill.
Notice that both paraphrases involve compression. Notice that both make clear that the idea belongs to Thompson, not to me.
It is with both ideas in mind–thesis road mapping and paraphrasing/condensing that I turn to this essay on the value of college.
Writing With Statistics
Let’s look at an example:
Andrew M. Seaman’s article in Reuters provides statistics on how many transgender people get discriminated in medical communities. It states that, “28 percent said they’d been denied equal treatment, about 32 percent reported verbal harassment, and about 1 percent reported physical assaults.” This is only based on the people who actually reported it. This clearly displays how often transgender people are treated differently when they are in need of any medical help.
I have an exercise involving a PEW center article. There is a graded discussion forum on Canvas.
First make sure you submit the results of the PEW center activity to Canvas.
Second our piece #3 drafts are due as usual on Sunday.
Third a reminder that we will not meet for class on Thursday. Use this time to work on your drafts. I have office hours tomorrow (Wednesday) from 1:30 to 2:30. I will hold office hours on Thursday from 12:00 to 1:00. My office is in Ross 1180D (the door to enter the office hallway is in the foyer next to the computer lab). You should come.