Discussion Questions

The most regular assignment in this course should take no more than a few minutes a week: By 12 midnight the night before our class meets, every student must email me FOUR open-ended discussion questions that directly concern the reading due. These questions should not be inquiries for more factual information. One quick way to decide if you have generated a discussion question is to ask yourself if you could find the answer to your question by searching the internet. If you could – if you are asking for facts – then it is not a discussion question. All questions will be graded on a credit / no credit basis, which means as long as you turn in open-ended questions on time, you will receive full credit.

In order to keep things organized, I ask that you send your discussion questions only to < dq.romance.in.asia [at] gmail.com >. If you have other questions or want to contact me about anything else, please use my regular email address: aalexy [at] umich.edu

I ask you to send me your questions because I am interested in what has made you think, what you think deserves more attention, or what is puzzling. More generally, I want to reinforce the idea that we should all be generating questions as we read, rather than looking for the "right" answers. Further, as I will discuss in class, it is actually quite difficult to come up with good questions and learning to do so is a skill. Please take this opportunity to be creative. Don't be afraid to ask big questions, but please keep that day's readings in mind. Always feel free to think across the readings and discussions.

The discussion questions can be a helpful resource when you’re trying to figure out a paper topic. Think through the questions that have been posed (your own or those written by your colleagues) and see what sparks a possible paper. To be clear, when you are assigned multiple materials in the same session, you need to turn in four questions total, not four questions for each chapter assigned.

Here are some good and bad example discussion questions for the first of the assigned readings, “Writing Desire in Nepali Love Letters,” due for our second meeting.

Examples of some good discussion questions:
How do changing social norms impact young people’s sense of the romance they want?
How do the people in this article debate or disagree about the qualities of a “good” romance?
What does it mean to desire desire?
Did you find the excerpts of the love letters to be romantic? Or something else? How do they compare to your sense of a love letter?

Examples of bad discussion questions:
This article was written some years ago. How have things changed since then?
I think Nepal is a relatively impoverished country. Is that right?

Examples of how to turn bad discussion questions into good ones:
This article was written some years ago. How have things changed since then? --> How could digital media fit into the dynamics described in this article?
I think Nepal is a relatively impoverished country. Is that right? --> How does relative wealth or poverty matter in these dynamics? Does class impact how people understand desire?

I look forward to your questions.