Modes of Reading Essay writing Week 10 Academic essay



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Modes of Reading

  • Essay writing
  • Week 10

Academic essay

  • Addresses a specific question
  • Uses academic English
  • Meets criteria
    • Relevance
    • Logical structure
    • Personal response and evaluation
    • Engagement with contextual and critical material

Process (big picture)

  • Critical Reading of the primary text (s)
  • Critical Thinking (about the essay title)
  • Critical Writing (planning)
  • Critical Reading (of the secondary sources)
  • Critical Thinking: (relationship of primary source / essay title / secondary)
  • Critical Writing

Asking the right questions

  • what cultural problem is being set up?
  • why might readers at a particular time and place find this work compelling?
  • are there differences between my values and the values implicit in the text?
  • what kind of cultural intervention is this text making?
  • how does this text position me as a reader? That is, what assumptions must you have to be an insider to this text?

Asking the right questions

  • what is the text setting up as “normative”? what is being set up against the normative as “different”? are these linked to class ideology, race, gender, sexual behaviour, etc…? in what ways?
    • How is the text constructing “woman /female” (is it in opposition to man/ male? To other women who are not “normative”? is the normative notion of woman of any particular class, race, ethnic group or sexuality?
    • How is the text constructing “man/male”
    • Is there any other social unit being privileged in the text? Any geographical, historical, or ideological location that is privileged (e.g. “the city”, the “provinces”, the academy, the past, the home, the family, the nation…)

Process (big picture)

  • Critical Reading of the primary text (s)
  • Critical Thinking (about the essay title)
  • Critical Writing (planning)
  • Critical Reading (of the secondary sources)
  • Critical Thinking: (relationship of primary source / essay title / secondary)
  • Critical Writing

Critical thinking (re: title)

  • Decoding the essay title
  • “In Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia, individual growth and development are shown to be inseparable from social influences”. Discuss.

keywords

  • “In Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia, individual growth and development are shown to be inseparable from social influences”. Discuss.
  • Shown = they are shown to you; you are watching
  • Shown = proved, demonstrated
  • Distinguish between the “WHAT” and the “HOW”

Writing as a process

  • INVENTING
  • PLANNING
  • DRAFTING
  • REVISING
  • EDITING

INVENTING

  • Decoding essay titles:
    • Define the key terms
    • Write down the assignment in your own words
    • Write down what you already know
    • Identify 3 questions you could pursue on this topic
    • Use these questions to generate a tentative thesis statement

NOW to the library

PLANNING

  • Read the sources you collected
    • How does this material relate to what I already know about the subject?
    • How does this material relate to other sources?
    • How can I use what I am reading?
    • How can I build on this existing knowledge?

PLANNING

  • Practice analytic reading (for example)
    • How does the author introduce the text?
    • Does she spell out what she is going to discuss
    • Is the author assuming that you have a particular background knowledge?
    • Can you pick out the central argument of the article?
    • What sort of evidence does the author use to support her argument?

PLANNING = OUTLINING

  • You will probably draw a number of outlines before you finalise the structure of the essay
  • Outlining = logical order
  • Outlining = finding the gaps
  • Outlining = staying on track

What makes a good essay?

  • States a clear purpose
  • Alerts us to its aim
  • Keeps us informed of the progress of the argument
  • Has an easily identifiable structure
  • Engages with the context and scholarship where necessary
  • Avoids ambiguity
  • ANSWERS THE QUESTION

Criteria

  • Relevance
  • Logical structure:
    • Dialectical analysis
  • Personal response = own critical response
  • Use of texts and critics

Use of evidence

  • if you are going to use a quote, you should, incorporate it into your argument.
  • Use only necessary quotes which help move your argument forward.
  • Don’t rely on the critics to prove your point. Use them to back you up.
  • Use them to refute their ideas and challenge their arguments.
  • Use critics to enrich the discussion.

Incorporating critics

  • Quoting
  • Summarising
  • Critiquing

In-text citations

  • Many critics (Bell, 1992; Marx, 1982) endorse the view that Victorian fiction was concerned with the conflict between science and religion. In fact, Bell specifically cites Victorian pamphlets and book reviews arguing the merits and evils of Darwinism. He concludes that while adventure stories focussing on the rags-to-riches trope dominated the literary scene for part of the century yet the influence of Darwinism had lasting effects… (57). This position is further endorsed by Marx whose controversial article posited that Victorian fiction’s obsession with money and class could be explained as a “struggle for the survival of the fittest” (142-45). Although these studies provide a valuable perspective on Victorian attitudes, yet more recent findings have challenged their validity.

In-text citations: Quoting

  • J.A. Cuddon (1998) defines an enchiridion as “a book that can be carried by hand” (258).
  • In this essay a “domestic tragedy” refers to “a play about middle or lower-class life which concentrates on the more personal and domestic element of tragedy ” (Cuddon 235).

In-text citation: Summarising

  • In his seminal article entitled “Cosmopolitan Writing” (1998), Cuddon argued that such writing is concerned with global / universal themes and issues and also with the attitudes and language involved in any discourse on such themes and issues.
  • Recently, it has been argued that “Cosmopolitan Writing” is concerned with the plight of individuals such as immigrants (Cuddon 182-184).

In-text citation: Critiquing

  • Although Cuddon’s (1998) essay on “Cosmopolitan Writing” detailed the various features of this mode of expression, yet it failed to engage with the significant issue of crossing boundaries and frontiers of nations raised by Hoffman (2003).

REVISING

EDITING

  • Small scale changes
  • Proofreading
  • Quotations and references
  • Presentation
  • Structure and layout

Typical Revising Questions

  • Does my essay fulfil the assignment?
  • Have I provided a clear and appropriate thesis statement?
  • Have I offered adequate support for my points?
  • Have I considered reasonable opposing viewpoints where appropriate?

Is my introduction clear and concise?

  • Is my introduction clear and concise?
  • Is my document well organised? Can I outline it?
  • Can readers follow my organisation?
  • Have I made use of an organising principle?

Typical Editing Questions

  • Is my text easy to read?
  • Do I use effective paragraphing and paragraph structure?
  • Are my transitions smooth? (have I used transitions?)
  • Does my conclusion provide more than a summary of my document?

Are my sources integrated and acknowledged in my text and in a works or bibliographical list?

  • Are my sources integrated and acknowledged in my text and in a works or bibliographical list?
  • Have I distinguished between my work and that of others?
  • Have I used the computer’s in-built (Shift+F7) spell check?
  • Have I set the language to English UK?
  • Have I abided by the department’s requirements with respect to presentation?
  • Have I used the department’s resources to help me with my essay

Summary

  • Writing is a process
    • Inventing
    • Planning
    • Drafting
    • Revising
    • Editing


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