Course Writing

This course requires a final paper that engages key themes and questions from the course. The final paper must ultimately be at least 4200 words (which is around 12 pages), thought it can be longer if you find that to be necessary.

Although I am always happy to talk through ideas with you and read drafts, I will not assign you a topic for this paper. Thus you'll need to create your own topic from the course readings and discussions. Think about what you're interested in, what you think might be important, or what surprised you. In this process, it might help to look at the questions fellow students are asking about the course materials. It is perfectly acceptable, and highly recommended, to form your paper's thesis around one of these questions.

In the past, a few students have seemed confused about why I don’t assign specific topics or questions. I want to explain my answer here: I don’t assign paper topics because I want you to be able to write about, and explore, whatever you think is most interesting. Another way to say that is that I am well aware at least half the work of having a good idea or writing a good paper is coming up with the initial question. This assignment is designed to give you space to come up with topics and questions that you think are important to ask.

Process Writing
As I will say in class, I firmly believe that the difference between bad writing and good writing is often time. Having a bit more time to think about what you’re trying to say, or to come up with new ideas, can often radically improve a paper. Almost everyone is a terrible writer at the last minute.

Therefore, this semester’s assignments also include regular writing projects that will build into your final paper. On Friday, March 29th you need to upload *four* possible final paper topics to your dropbox folder by 5pm. I am asking you to talk through four different possible topics. I ask this of you because I think it’s valuable for you to spend some time brainstorming different possibilities. If you have a preference for a topic, you are welcome to say so in the assignment, for instance “At this point, I’m most drawn to idea #2.”

On Friday, April 19th you need to upload a full rough draft of your final paper. The rough draft needs to be at least 2500 words and needs to represent a serious effort to write though your ideas. You will read drafts written by at least two of your colleagues and answer these specific questions about each paper (uploading your responses to dropbox), by Friday, April 26th at 5pm. The final version of your paper is due at 5pm on Friday, May 10th.