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Instructions
This is a Gordon Rule Writing/UCC course, and so the writing-aspect, regardless of what is being written upon, is taken quite seriously. Improvement is expected over the previous papers—I read my previous comments and assess your final paper accordingly. Also, especially when the total course grade is hovering between two grades (an “A-“ and a “B+” say), my sense of your improvement can be a buoyant factor.
This is strictly an analytical paper that DOES NOT depend on personal reflection “I believe…” stuff or phrasing. Obviously, interpretation involves personal judgment, but the reader will not “buy” your interpretation if you do not present your analysis as factual and objective, based on evidence. I don’t want to harp on too much, but a lot of Paper#1’s and #2’s suffered from this sort of phrasing…
“We, as humans, have emotions that make us think that some things about ruins are negative. When I look at the British ruin of Stonehenge, however, I see a ruin that is really interesting because it shows how Druids worshipped in the past.”
Note:
–The writer (I’m making up the example, not from an actual student) wants to be profound and so uses phrases such as “we, as humans, …”
–The writer wants to personalize or fears just stating his/her ideas and so owns the ideas in addition to just stating them “When I look…”
–The writer persists in using self-reflective phrasing about the act of analyzing “I see a ruin…”.
Now: extract the filters of above and be forced to write with more precision, and you can reduce but intensify the core ideas to: “Ruins evoke antiquated life-ways long gone and impractical for 20th-century citizens of the world; and yet some ruins, such as Stonehenge, can conjure up an earthy spiritualism that might, though old, be new to us.”
To achieve such forceful/impactful revision, you must write a draft and let it sit for a day or two, and then go back adding more pertinent, more nuanced reflections, and seeing where your phrasing seems to say something, but is actually wordy, overly abstract, or imprecise. You must approach essay writing not as if you are just letting the professor know that you’ve read the assignments and lecture notes and more or less understand them, but as if you are sculpting a work of art in which the superfluous or the slip of the artistic pen will be visible and obvious and distracting. (Yes: I know … you are perhaps taking lots of classes; it’s difficult to linger on writing and revising. Still, I ask you to do this to the best of your ability within the semester calendar limitations.) Please note: although Paper #1 and Paper #2 were NOT analytical, with both there was a fair amount of latitude for description and somewhat personal reflection/anecdote–this paper should be firmly and robustly analytical; description should always serve as evidence for analytical points!
All the general instructions for Paper#1 and #2 apply, except that this essay should be about 1500 words long or longer (again quality, not quantity), and it must incorporate research/secondary materials as requested in the topic options below.
Use whatever citation method that you have been taught in your Composition classes here at FIU or elsewhere or which you typically use in your own discipline/major. If you do not include a proper bibliography page at the end, your essay will not be read or it will be lowered a grade or more. Read the last two sentences again.
Do not consult more secondary sources than provided in the options below. Exceptions: yes, if you need to cite some fact or observation from an additional source, that is o.k.: but you have to be careful here—I occasionally get papers which were written for another class, or draw substantially upon such, or which come from the internet and so on. These are quite easy for me to detect, and the penalties for plagiarism (even self-plagiarism) are severe.
Incorporate the supplied (linked) secondary materials by paraphrasing their arguments or part of their arguments, or by quoting a section of their arguments/key points. Do this in the main body of your essay (not your introduction or conclusion). Your goal is not to show that you’ve read the secondary materials per se, but that, having read the materials, your own argument/points have become more sophisticated and developed, because you have consulted authoritative wisdom about the topic you are working on. It is, of course, possible to dispute such “authoritative wisdom.”
Definitely note that I have not quantified how many times you should quote or paraphrase or refer to a secondary source’s argument. I’m asking you to develop your own analytical ideas and then judiciously incorporate outside ideas/sources. That said, no more than 20% of your paper should be quoted material, whether from the main texts or secondary sources.
You have to know what your argument is and you have to know the arguments/main points of the secondary material. Only then can you integrate secondary research. Half-hearted tossing in of information from a secondary source–as if it’s some strange vegetable you don’t have a taste for–is not appropriate. Research typically requires reading a lot of material that ends up not being useful: that’s part of the discipline of doing research, ferreting out the useful from the non-useful. For this third paper, I’m not asking you to do elaborate research; I’m asking you to integrate the research sources I’ve provided.
If you do not incorporate secondary materials in the fashion reviewed above (in a qualitative, not quantitative sense), your essay will automatically be dropped at least a letter grade. Get it? Pay attention to these instructions! That said, every semester several students approach one of the topics/options in a unique way, in which my provided secondary materials just don’t fit. If you find yourself in this unique position, reach out to me to “ok” what alternative secondary materials you have in mind to use.
[See last option #5… for those who want to ponder “out-of-the-box” and more venturesomely. See especially the last sub-option on J. Cash’s “Hurt”] Option #1: Deep Time + Art Interpretation
Go to the “Deep Time” Art Catalogue (Module #6) and analyze several of the artist’s works in terms (mainly) of how effective a sense of “deep time” is conveyed. Ideally, you should select several artists/several artworks, and provide increasingly complex analytical observations (not just artist a, artist b, & artist c … disconnected). You might focus exclusively on those that depict nature per se, or you might move from “realistic” depictions to more abstract ones. If you really, really like one particular artist: you may (via a Google search) find more of his/her works and focus exclusively on him/her.
If easy to do: please imbed images of the artworks within your essay.
Use the prefatory catalog material as your secondary source. You may, if you are particularly “into” one the artists, do a Google search to find pertinent biographical or other information on him/her.
Option #2: Literature Analysis—Lightman’s “Einstein’s Dreams”
Choose 3-7 stories and interconnect them in an increasing pattern of complexity—i.e. the first story you choose is relatively simple in concept/”point,” the next one more complex, and the final one especially so. Have a main point that embraces the simple-to-complex sequence. This might be, for instance, “Lightman bases each story on a premise of some alternative time reality; the more complex stories, however, can be shown to be relevant to our day-to-day lives, irrespective of the nominal different time-reality set-ups.” This is not as easy as it looks (!): in any comparative analysis (when given multiple selections to compare) it takes some time to choose an effective sequence. Again: not just story a, story b, story c, and so forth. I’m going to be evaluating not just the acuteness of your interpretation of individual stories, but the harmonic order (as it were) you illustrate in the sequence.
Use the interview associated with the author in the Module for your secondary research.
Option #3: Psychological film analysis—“Ordinary People”
Write an in-depth analysis of either the son, mother or father. Your analysis necessarily will include points about the other two family members besides the main one you are examining (as the issues pertaining to family dynamics in addition to individual psychological issues), but try to really dig into our psychological/cinematic understanding of one family member. Avoid excessive “plot summary.”
Use the web link associated with “Ordinary People” in my Module#10. If you are a psychology major (or psychology-inclined), you may use another/different secondary sources, perhaps on PTSD. However, the main purpose of the assignment is to be analytically keen about how you see the characters and their interactions in the film. Students often choose this option, believing it will be easy: and then they just meander or make very obvious points!
Option #4: Philosophical Analysis—Nagel’s Death Essay
Argue either, “Nagel’s essay is consoling” (in an objective sense, not just for you personally) or “Nagel’s essay is not consoling” (in an objective sense, not just for you personally). Note that I have not defined what “consoling” might mean: that’s for you to do (ethically, psychologically, philosophically, none-of-the-above?)! Again, as I said in one of the Paper#2 options—nuance, complexity, contradiction, tension, and etc. are not voided by taking a stand; you just don’t want to straddle the fence. I will add: Nagel himself, being a professional philosopher, knows how to “definitively” argue a point and, presumably, is after “truth” (irrespective if that truth is a seemingly happy pill or a sad pill). And yet at the same time there may be argumentative maneuvers or an overall rhetoric that makes him “hold his punches” for the quasi-popular audience he is writing for. Or maybe he is too “philosophical” and ignores what any person living-in-time (and subject to, as it were, the irrationality of such) likely ponders. Regardless: you need to read his essay rather carefully; some of his points are obvious, some less so.
Use the link following for your secondary source: Is death bad for us?
If you find the above too breezy or otherwise not useful for your argument, go to this more comprehensive article below (“Death” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy):
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Death
Option #5 (Out-of-the-box): a Time-Interpretation that Speaks to Your Interests
Typically, it’s important for you to “process” analytically-through-writing the specific content of a course. Thus the previous options incorporate readings you’ve already read this semester. However, given the expansive nature of our theme–time—you may have particular expertise in an area not otherwise captured by our materials/topics. So, I dangle the sub-options below, with strong caveats: you cannot submit a paper you’ve submitted before (for a different professor/class); the logic of electing this option must be based on true expertise/a topic you have the skill and knowledge to investigate, relating to time; and finally, you must seek out several appropriate research materials to support your thesis/argument (as open-ended: I cannot suggest).
If you choose this option, you MUST ok with me at least four days before the paper is due. Do not choose one of below or kindred because it seems “easier”; not so, at all!
Below are really rough examples of possibilities:
You really, really know “classical” music: argue in terms a layperson can understand (i.e. me!) how a particular piece of classical music captures “time” in some fashion. That might mean musical themes that move from “haunting/nostalgic” to more “futuristic/propulsive” musical themes. I am not a musician so do not even have the vocabulary here! Or, explain how repetitive-chord music (Phillip Glass) works so that the repetition is not just plain boring (static-in-time).
If you are into a particular sport or exercise-regime/”eastern” jiu-jitsu whatever, analyze how such is peculiarly or distinctively “time” oriented. For me, basketball is boring-beyond-belief: it’s just a repeat over and over again of the same basic intent . . . get the ball through the hoop. Football, however, seems to be much more “time” dramatic. I know nothing about sports. Convince me in an essay that you can be very philosophically profound about analyzing the “time” dimension of a sport.
Finally (other YouTube’s on other “pop” music would be possible): watch the Johnny Cash YouTube “Hurt”—it is poignant, self-referential (old photos/movie clips of Cash himself), and profound beyond words. Analyze, in respect to its “time” issues.
Rubric
HUM3306 Paper Topics
HUM3306 Paper Topics
Criteria Ratings Pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeAnalysis
demonstrate the ability to analyze the knowledge-content (themes/texts) of the course
5.0 to >3.0 pts
Full Marks
The paper includes all of the following: (1) having a clear and concise thesis (2) referencing broader historical/cultural context when appropriate and (3) using strong evidence such as quotes and other citations in support of your thesis
3.0 to >0.0 pts
Partial Marks
The paper does not include some elements of the following: (1) having a clear and concise thesis (2) referencing broader historical/cultural context when appropriate and (3) using strong evidence such as quotes and other citations in support of your thesis
0.0 pts
No Marks
The paper does not include any of the following: (1) having a clear and concise thesis (2) referencing broader historical/cultural context when appropriate and (3) using strong evidence such as quotes and other citations in support of your thesis
5.0 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeOrganization
Demonstrate the ability to organize one’s argument
5.0 to >3.0 pts
Full Marks
The paper demonstrates the ability to organize one’s argument through strong instances of standard rhetorical patterns such as compare and contrast or stating the pros and cons of an issue
3.0 to >0.0 pts
Partial Marks
The paper demonstrates the ability to organize one’s argument through instances of standard rhetorical patterns such as compare and contrast or stating the pros and cons of an issue that while mentioned still need stronger development
0.0 pts
No Marks
The paper does not demonstrate the ability to organize one’s argument through strong instances of standard rhetorical patterns such as compare and contrast or stating the pros and cons of an issue
5.0 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeCommunication Style
Demonstrate the ability to communicate in a mature prose-style
5.0 to >3.0 pts
Full Marks
The paper demonstrates the ability to communicate in a mature prose-style with strong examples of all of the following (1) sentence patterns, (2) precision, and (3) vocabulary.
3.0 to >0.0 pts
Partial Marks
The paper demonstrates the ability to communicate in a mature prose-style with examples of all of the following (1) sentence patterns, (2) precision, and (3) vocabulary that while mentioned still need stronger development
0.0 pts
No Marks
The paper does not demonstrates the ability to communicate in a mature prose-style and does not include strong examples with any of the following (1) sentence patterns, (2) precision, and (3) vocabulary.
5.0 pts
This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeCommunication Appropriateness
Demonstrate the ability to communicate correctly and appropriately
5.0 to >3.0 pts
Full Marks
The paper demonstrates the ability to communicate correctly and appropriately with strong examples of all of the following (1) grammar, (2) punctuation, and (3) editing (no typos)
3.0 to >0.0 pts
Partial Marks
The paper demonstrates the ability to communicate in correctly and appropriately with some errors in the following (1) grammar, (2) punctuation, and (3) editing (typos)
0.0 pts
No Marks
The paper does not demonstrates the ability to communicate correctly and appropriately with errors in the following (1) grammar, (2) punctuation, and (3) editing (typos)
5.0 pts
Total Points: 20.0

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