Reminder: Over the course of the quarter, you are required to write 3 out of 4 possible papers for which you will be given topics. Do not do them all. In the introduction to her book Writing Women’s Worlds: Bedouin Stories, Lila Abu-Lughod discusses the concepts of “writing against culture” and “tactical humanism.” In a 5-page essay, analyze how she puts these concepts into play in the narrative construction of her ethnography. Focus your analysis on her final chapter entitled “Honor and Shame.” As part of your essay, you might consider the following questions: In what ways is her book a feminist work? What does her juxtaposition of chapter title, accompanying photo, and quotation from the Qur’an with women’s stories reveal? What cultural generalizations, such the association of “honor and shame” with Muslim communities, is she writing against? Why and how?
Academic papers are flexible but formal writing exercises. Be creative and strive to develop your own rhetorical style (i.e. do not mechanically reproduce the 5-paragraph essay format many of us were taught in high school), while also writing analytically, in a way that responds to the full demands of the assignment.
DO NOT write as if you were telling a story to your best friend or in a stream of consciousness style—unless you are quoting spoken material that you then analyze for its cultural significance.
DO organize and edit your thoughts. Introduce the main argument of your paper in the first paragraph. Make sure that the details you bring up in the body of your paper contribute to the main argument. Provide transitions between paragraphs. Be precise in your statements. Check your grammatical constructions.
Whenever possible, use active rather than passive voice verbal constructions in your paper. Getting into this habit will force you to think more concretely about who, what, when, where, and why. Passive voice generally allows you to shrink away from such specifics, but the analytical cost is high. Some examples from Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style:
There were a great number of dead Dead leaves covered the ground.
leaves lying on the ground.
At dawn the crowing of a rooster could The cock’s crow came with dawn.
The reason he left college was that his Failing health compelled him to leave
health became impaired. college.
It was not long before he was very sorry He soon repented his words.
that he had said what he had.
Quotations always require a footnote or citation at the end. Use block quote format for four lines or more of quoted text. Block quotes do not require quotation marks because they are set off from the main text through indentation and single-spacing.
For footnotes, citations, and references, use an established style. You can use whichever style you are most familiar with, but be consistent in your use. Some examples of style guides with examples available on-line are:
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) Style Guide: http://www.swt.edu/~rw04/anthropology/info/theory/long-style-guide.htm
For titles, use quotation marks around article titles and underline or italicize movie and book titles.
Check your spelling and grammar with spell/grammar check. Check once more to catch mistakes that might have slipped through the computer program. Look especially for run-on sentences, subject-verb agreement, singular-plural subject agreement, verb tense consistency, proper colon and semicolon use, its vs. it’s, proper use of prepositions, etc. Read your paper out loud. If it is hard for you to read out loud, it is probably hard to read period.
FORMATTING POINTERS Your paper should be approximately 5 pages long. Do not go significantly (1-2 pages) over this guideline. Short papers often do not contain enough substance. Long papers usually need substantial revision and editing for greater clarity.
Please type your paper. Double space (except for block quotes), use reasonable margins, and select an easily readable 12-point font. Please print in black ink.