For the mid-term examination, write an essay on the following topic:
Enter into an historiographical discussion of the assigned reading material up to February 20 (inclusive), keeping in mind dates of publication, subject matter, articulated and unarticulated (i.e., inferred) assumptions in the writings, and methods of analysis.
This assignment is due at the start of class on February 27. You are encouraged to read ahead, write the essay early, and receive a critical evaluation well before the due date.
The course paper should reflect your most rigorous and sophisticated thinking about the course materials and the themes of the course. It should not be an encyclopedic recitation of information, but it should demonstrate a broad mastery of the mate rials. I will be reading the paper for evidence of your ability to integrate complex material, sustain an analysis, and yield an interpretation of a theme derived from the analysis of the material.
Your work on this paper should begin as soon as you leave the first class session. As you read, attend class, and think about the issues raised, what theme or cluster of themes emerges? Once you identify your organizing theme(s), begin to work on nuanc e and subtlety.
You should feel free to consult with me in all stages of the development of this paper.
This assignment is due on May 4 by 4:00 p.m.
THE ABOVE DUE DATES ARE FIRM AND FINAL. I will grant deadline extensions only in cases of extreme emergency (determined at the discretion of the professor), and only if you have contacted me before the deadline.
Every student will receive a letter grade at the end of the course (except for extreme emergencies which clearly call for a grade of Incomplete: note, identity crises, failing the course, not being able to get one's whatever together are not
extreme emergencies). If one encounters extreme emergencies in time to drop the course, that is the action that should be taken. If the emergency arises after the final drop date, we can probably negotiate an incomplete. I NEVER, EVER USE THE GRADE OF IN
COMPLETE AS AN ESCAPE-HATCH FOR A STUDENT WHO IS EARNING A LOW GRADE. STUDENTS MAY BE TOLD BY FUNCTIONARIES IN THE RECORDS OFFICE TO SEEK THIS RELIEF, BUT THESE FUNCTIONARIES HAVE NEITHER THE COMPETENCE NOR THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE SUCH A SUGGESTION.
The grade assigned for the course will be determined by the formula:
(midterm grade x .333) + (course paper grade x .667)
I reserve the right to assign a higher grade than the calculation indicates in cases of marked improvement, but in no case will a student receive a lower grade, with the exception of a lower grade assigned for poor attendance (see below, p. 10). There will be no "extra credit" possibilities (a dubious practice, at best, and a stupid practice, most likely).
The following are the criteria for grades on the two assignments:
A = You have written an essay in which you clearly state your thesis in the first paragraph, demonstrate a clear understanding of the material throughout, subject the material to a logical analysis in conformity with the thesis, and render an in terpretation of the material which flows logically from the analysis.
B = You have written an essay in which you clearly state your thesis in the first paragraph, demonstrate a clear understanding of the material throughout, and subject the material to a logical analysis in conformity with the thesis.
C = You have written an essay in which you clearly state your thesis in the first paragraph, and demonstrate a clear understanding of the material throughout.
D = You have demonstrated familiarity with the material.
F = You have demonstrated minimal familiarity with the material.
An essay is a specific form of writing. It is not a description, nor is it a report. It is the formal presentation of analysis and interpretation. Analysis is the systematic and logical thought process in which the essayist arranges the information in a w ay that demonstrates an understanding of the phenomenon under investigation beyond mere description. Interpretation is the logical, systematic, and creative thought process in which the essayist discusses the significance of the information s/he has analy zed.
Every essay should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction should contain an introduction of the issue(s) to be discussed and a thesis statement that prepares the reader for the analysis and interpretation which follow (which is w hy the introduction is best written after you have written a draft of the body and conclusion). The body contains the analysis and the conclusion contains the interpretation. The conclusion, therefore, should never be a brief paragraph that simply present s a summary. It should be a well-developed section (which most likely will take several paragraphs) which presents a logical and creative perspective on the issue(s) resulting from your original thought.
For some suggestions on writing essays, you can consult my web page at http://www.neiu.edu/~ghsingle/ and follow the For Students link.
The most frequently asked question about essays (alas) is "How long should it be?" Writing styles vary. Some topics and issues can be dealt with more concisely than others. A MUCH BETTER INDEX THAN LENGTH IS TO DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE REALLY DEMONSTRATED THE POINT YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE, AND IF THE POINT IS ONE WORTH MAKING.