You are asked to isolate a topic within the course remit, with tutorial advice.
Careful referencing and attention to the normal scholarly apparatus is required for essays, as is lucid writing, and attention to detail. Essays are graded on content, the range and quality of sources drawn on, the level and originality of analysis, and grammar and spelling.
You must use a tutor approved citation method.
Particular attention should be paid to accessing scholarly journals through academic databases such as Ebscohost or Jstor. These databases are available from the University Library. Do not use Google Scholar which will direct you to pay-for options. Also avoid academic scams and vanity publishing sites like Academia.edu. Specific advice on research procedures is offered throughout the course. Note that this is a research orientated course – as opposed to learning by rote or thinking through bullet points. For this reason, only a limited amount of course material is replicated on Blackboard. Throughout, a premium is given to independent thinking, creativity and initiative.
Throughout the course a range of specialised resources will be introduced, from COPAC to the Hulton-Getty picture archive.
General search engines such as google.com and resources like Wikipedia should be treated with caution and used mostly for preliminary forays.
Videos screened during class time are intended as sources rather than entertainment. You should make appropriate notes on them and discuss and cite them in your work.
Additionally, here are a few informal guidelines which may help:
It’s usually wise to ask a friend to quickly read over and comment on your work. Especially if English is not your first language. Written English is full of traps and quirks. The Polish-born writer Joseph Conrad quipped that writing English is like throwing mud at a wall.
For this reason also, carefully proof, and if necessary, rewrite, your work. Proofing is the most tiresome aspect of writing, but very necessary. And the best way to proof is on hard copy – not off the screen – screens can be overly seductive.
The American novelist William Gass has commented that there is no such thing as writing – only re-writing.
Make sure you create an argument or structure your essay as a response to a question you pose at the beginning. Try to maintain a balance between description and commentary/analysis.
Make sure you attend to all the boring stuff like proper citations and correct format for the bibliography.
Calibrate the tone of your writing! Remember you are not writing to a friend or some anonymous reader on the web. You are composing a serious academic think-piece. Do not be gushy or unduly personal or trivial. This is where the research you have done- the quality of the sources – which underpin your work, will show – through style as much as much as content. If you have based your research on blogs and journalistic chat, that will leak though in your writing. Conversely, in my classes I have no objection to you using a first person address and importing biographical elements into your work, providing it is done with justification and due caution.