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Tips for Paper Writing (both thought papers and longer papers)

Logistics: 1) The paper should be the full length1 full single-spaced page (or 2 double-spaced pages) for the thought papers, and 5-7 double-spaced pages for the longer papers. This does not include the header or title or any long quotations used as epigraphs. Any papers which do not meet the prescribed minimum length will be marked down. 2) Please use Times New Roman, 12 point font, double-spaced with at most 1.25 margins, and a standard formatting (either normal view or page view). It is more standard not to have spaces between paragraphs, but to simply differentiate paragraphs via indentation. Citation: 1) You must cite every piece of information that you mention from the text or the lectures (or outside sources, although they are not necessary or encouraged), regardless of whether it is a direct quote or a paraphrase. If the edition of the text is different from the one on the syllabus, you should footnote the first citation and provide a full bibliographic reference. Thereafter, you may simply cite page numbers, or the authors name and page number, in the form, (35) or (Duras 35). The quotation mark should come before the parenthetical citation, but punctuation should come after. Eg, Ive always loved Paris in the spring (Dankel 21). 2) If in doubt, cite. It is always better to over-cite than under-cite. You may use any standard citation method as long as you are consistent throughout. Please refer to the academic honesty document on the website for more information about scholarly rigor. Grammatical issues: 1) Please edit carefully for grammar, spelling, punctuation, word use and flow. 2) There is no need to introduce a quoted passage with an ellipsis () or have an ellipsis after a quote. The only reason to use an ellipsis in a quoted passage is to denote a part of the quote that you have removed, and this ellipsis should be in brackets [] to indicate that you have placed it there. 3) Books and plays should be denoted in your work with italics, e.g. The Sluts, articles and poems should be denoted with quotation marks, e.g. Character and Anal Erotism. 4) Any quote more than four lines long should be block quoted, this involves reducing the spacing, as well as the font, and indenting the quote .5 on each side. In a block quote, quotations marks are not required. The alternate formatting alerts the reader to the fact that it is a quote. Please avoid using long quotes in your thought papers, unless you are close reading a passage, in which case the actual close reading should occupy a full single-spaced page. Argument: 1) A strong, clear thesis is the key to writing a strong paper. Strong indicates that the thesis makes a real argument, i.e. someone else in the class could potentially







disagree with it. Clear suggests that the reader of the paper should know from your thesis exactly what your paper will argue. In short papers like the ones in this class, your thesis should be presented as soon as possible so that the reader knows what to expect from the paper. There is a difference between a strong thesis and an unprovable one. Since the purpose of this class is to teach you to interact deeply and analytically with texts, your argument should be one that can feasibly be proven using the text. Be wary of hijacking the text to prove your point, either by inserting things that are not there, or interpreting the text in a way that supports your argument, but does not bear out given the totality of the text. Avoid arguments that involve moralizing. Given the nature of this class, it is not particularly productive to read the texts through the lens of whether the characters are moral or likable, or not. Most of the texts we read will be disturbing and you should not expect to find characters with whom to identify. The most productive interaction with the text will be to move beyond our emotions about or visceral reactions to the texts and attempt to understand what these texts within their own literary framework. Avoid arguments that rely on assumptions about general societal norms or concepts. Most of these texts are ethically non-normative, and you should not necessarily expect to find love, kindness, morality, virtue, law, etc, in forms that you recognize. Judging the texts via these concepts will not be analytically productive, they need to be examined on their own terms. In general, you should never assume that your reader knows the things that you know. That means that if you are using technical concepts, or even concepts that could possibly be ambiguous, you should define your terms. Similarly, if you are comparing the text to another text outside the class or examining it through an outside theoretical concept, you should explain the text or concept as though you were talking to a person completely unfamiliar with it. The only exception to this rule, especially in the thought papers, is that you should not summarize the texts from the class. You can assume that we have read them and proceed directly to you argument. The most important thing, after a strong argument, is a deep engagement with the text. Every sentence in your paper should be a piece of evidence from the text or lecture, or analysis of it, oriented towards proving your thesis. However, do not expect quotes to speak for themselves. When you use a quote, you should be prepared to explain how it supports your argument. If a section of your paper does not directly support your thesis, you should delete it. Prose should be as streamlined and clear as possible. If you have a great idea, but do not convey it clearly, it is difficult for the reader to appreciate your analytical insightfulness. Especially, the opening sentence of a paper should be well written. It is the hook that draws the reader in.