In your essay, you should strive to achieve three GENERAL GOALS:
b) To provide a carefully argued critical perspective of your own on the central ideas under discussion. "Of your own" does not mean "completely original with you": but it does imply that you have adopted a position and are prepared to explain and defend it. (If the position does come from someone else, cite the source. -- see how not to plagiarize)
c) To arrive at an assessment of the issues, based on a discussion in which you should put forward the best possible defense of the position you think is the most satisfactory. You are not, however, required to arrive at a settled conclusion. Presenting your own position can quite well mean presenting a forceful dilemma which you are unable to solve. Many an A paper (and many a published one) is valuable precisely because it throws into sharp relief ambiguities and difficulties of interpretation and argument. You might even present a multiplicity of incompatible perspectives, between which, for well argued reasons, you cannot decide.
2. Exposition: Set out the views, theses or claims that you will be advancing AND/OR examining. You may construct the paper either around a thesis of your own, or around the views held by authors of your readings. In either case, other views should be brought in as foils for your own discussion. Make sure you support your claims about your authors' views by precise citations. But DO NOT quote extensively: instead, paraphrase. Cite page references to the text so that your readers can check up on you.
When discussing another author's argument, be sure to exhibit the structure of the argument: Premises, unexpressed assumptions needed for the argument to go through, and conclusion(s).
Pick out any crux of interpretation: define any special terms, and discuss any alternative definitions that might be appropriate. Sharpen any difficulty found by suggesting contrary alternative interpretations. If something is unclear, don't gloss it over: draw attention to it. That way, you will get points even for what you don't understand!
3. Discussion: Criticism of the views expounded in part 2.
Consider possible objections (perhaps taken from our authors, if you are highlighting a thesis of your own), and do your best to defend yourself or your author(s) against them. If an author(s)' argument is bad, explain why:
Does the argument rely on assumptions that are unacceptable, or arbitrary, or debatable? Does the argument contain crucial ambiguities? Is rhetoric substituted for argument at some crucial stage?
(In 2 and 3, use the methods suggested for "Writing Critical Summaries".)
5. Conclusion. Here you can briefly recapitulate the gist of your argument and restate the central "message" that your paper has attempted to establish.
MECHANICS: Use a dark ribbon. Dot matrix "DRAFT" output is not acceptable. Don't footnote individual references: place references in the text between brackets, and append a bibliography. TURN OFF RIGHT JUSTIFICATION (this is optional ONLY IF you are using a high-quality proportional font.) Double space. Number your pages. Do NOT use any kind of plastic cover. Staple on upper left. Margins: at least 1" all round. Font: minimum 10 pt. 12 point preferred. (Pica 10 cpi or elite 12 cpi fine too.)
Last Revised Jan 2 2000