Format: There are many different types of essays, and effective essay writing necessarily entails making decisions about structure, style, tone, and presentation. Once you have chosen an essay prompt from the list provided, it will be up to you to propose a research question, to limit the scope of the research, to develop a thesis statement and statement of significance, and to determine an appropriate format for your essay. Remember, the following questions are prompts. It is up to you to choose a specific topic and focus. Do not be vague. Length: Your essay must be 2000-2500 words, double-spaced, and in Times New Roman 12point font. If you wish to write a longer essay, you will not be penalized. However, I strongly discourage submissions that exceed eight pages. Please note that the word and page count does not include the reference list (Works Cited) or any appendices that may be attached. Style: Your format and references must follow either MLA or APA style. Procedure: Essays are, by definition, attempts to explore new ideas, or at least ideas that are new to you. As a result, the best essays are produced when you have ample time to gestate your ideas. The final essay in SSH 205 will be developed in five stages, many of which will be workshopped in class: Starting ASAP: Select a prompt from the list below and start thinking about a research question (consider using the handout “How to Write a Research Question.” Copies can be downloaded from the course website). Week 7: During our library research tutorial search for suitable articles/ books that may help you in developing your essay. Librarians are available online to assist you. Week 8: Develop and submit a research proposal (worth 10% of your final grade) in response to your research question. You must use the proposal template in the Assignments folder. On your own: Research and write a draft of your essay. Your draft should be between 3 and 4 pages. Week 10: Essay Draft Exchange (worth 2.5% of your final grade). In order to participate in the essay exchange, you must submit a draft of at least 2-2.5 pages before class. Week 11: Submit your final essay (worth 30% of your final grade) online, to D2L. EVALUATION CRITERIA Your grade will be based on a combination of the following factors: • Comprehension of the assignment instructions and question • Comprehension of key concepts, texts, and theorists • Scope and originality of research and/or creative work • Integration of secondary research – at least five scholarly sources (n.b., there is no maximum number of secondary sources; incorporate relevant and credible secondary sources as required; use your judgment). In addition to sources you discover through your own research, your paper should incorporate AT LEAST ONE of the essays studied in class this term: Noreen Nasir’s “Images of Violence Against Black People Spur Racial Trauma,” John Allemang’s “Can the Liberal Arts Cure Jihadists”, Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, or John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid’s “The Social Life of Documents.” • Analysis (e.g., avoidance of fallacies, such as hasty generalizations) • Presentation and structure of argument, including: Does the introduction move from a general topic, to a controversy, to the research question, to the thesis? Does the thesis contain an interpretive claim? Does the thesis contain a statement of significance? Do the body paragraphs contain strong topic sentences that offer a claim? Do the body paragraphs contain clear transitions that show their relationship to previous statements or anticipate future claims? Do the body paragraphs provide textual support (evidence) for the interpretive claim? Does the author explain the quotations, telling the reader not only what is said in the quotes, but also showing how the quotation works to support the claim of the paragraph? Does the author provide interesting, engaging readings of the text? Does the conclusion do more than summarize what the paper has already done? Does the conclusion return to the controversy defined in the introduction in order to develop the implications of the essay? Quality of writing (spelling, grammar, diction, style, etc.) Referencing (consistent and proper use of parenthetical citations and reference notes in either APA or MLA style) Formatting (page numbering, spacing, use of italics, etc.) ESSAY PROMPTS: 1. John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid argue that documents have social lives, in that they take up both informational and social space, even creating social worlds. Nasir’s article examines the social space taken up by images of anti-black violence, which simultaneously inform, document, galvanize, and traumatize, coordinating social practices and underwriting social interactions. Write an essay discussing the social life of a recent document of your choosing. You will use the broad definition of document provided by Brown and Duguid. For this question, you might choose to do primary research in which you track the social life of a recent headline, image, tweet, hashtag, article or the like as it moves through the internet and/or popular culture. In this case, you would have to focus on a document that has been produced or, in the case of a hashtag, active within 2020. 2. The political landscape is constantly changing with the emergence of new communication technologies (like social media, the internet or television). Write an essay discussing the relationship between technology and political structures. How have new communication technologies shaped political institutions and forms of political organization? 3. We live nowadays almost constantly immersed in an endless information stream broadcast through our televisions, computers, social media feeds and so on. Yet the “virality” of a story is often inversely proportional to its truth value. In 2005 the American comedian Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness” to designate “truth that comes from the gut, not from the books” and “feels right” even in the absence of verifiable evidence. He noted that we tend to seek out information that confirms rather than challenges our beliefs and world views. How do the internet and electronic media in general shape our perception of reality and truth? 4.Many public figures and researchers bemoan the decline of education in the digital age. Our multitasking habits have made it increasingly difficult to concentrate for long stretches of time or read longer texts, therefore affecting our intellectual performance. Write an essay in which you discuss the impact that digital and electronic technology (mobile digital devices, the internet, social media etc.) have on education and knowledge acquisition. What does an ideal, modern, education system look like? What does it do? What is education for, and what role if any does technology have in achieving educational ideals? 5. John Allemang argues that the Liberal Arts has a crucial role to play in advancing humanity toward “the good life.” Using theories of democracy from ancient and/or modern times, reflect on the meaning of the good life and how we might know when it has been achieved. Final Notes: It is important to choose your essay topic and begin your research as soon as possible. If you have any questions, or just want to discuss the scope or direction of your essay, please email me to meet during my office hours. You can also ask your questions in class. I want to see evidence of old fashioned, honest-to-goodness research. That means finding books and articles and reading them. And remember: Wikipedia is not an acceptable or reliable source. The web is a viable resource and I encourage you to use it, but be sure the sources are of the reputable, peer-reviewed variety (i.e. online journals, newspapers, etc.) and not someone’s unedited blog. Use your judgment.
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