USE ONLY THE DOCUMENTS ATTACHED. NO OUTSIDE SOURCES CAN BE USED.
I. TOPIC: The topic of each paper is to be drawn from the weekly topics listed on the syllabus for
that particular paper. If more than one topic is listed, you may write a paper which is drawn from only
one of the topics or cuts across the topics.
II. CONTENT: Your paper should reflect both: (a) your formal integration and analysis of the
material, which means your paper should be grounded in and explicitly refer to the readings and to
evidence presented in the readings (analysis: 3/4 of your paper), and (b) your personal reaction to and
process about the material (process: 1/4 of your paper).
2. Try to look at the big picture – the history, the trends, and the overall meaning.
No matter what specific issue you choose to write about, there is a history and a context for the issue.
Keep that history and context in mind as you write.
3. Be comprehensive. You don’t need to cover all of the issues raised in the readings or
discussed in class. You should write about an issue that is the most interesting or maybe even the most
challenging or threatening to you. However, once you have chosen a topic, make sure you include all
relevant materials we have read or covered in class that touch on this topic. A paper that provides
references to only one or two authors when there were three or four that touched on that subject is not
4. Be a careful reader. For example, textbook authors report other people’s research,
interpretations, and opinions. They don’t always personally agree with everything they write about. In
fact, they often present both sides of an issue and report conflicting research. This is what they’re
supposed to do. Their job is to provide you with information on current research – including what the
current controversies are and why they exist. I’m not saying that textbook authors don’t have their own
agendas or insert their own opinions. They choose what to include and how to discuss the research and
issues they present. But they generally try to present controversies in a non-biased manner. So if you
take some conclusion or opinion to task, make sure you know whose conclusion or opinion you are discussing. In contrast, authors of individual research articles, once they have presented a review of
the literature, are presenting their own interpretations and conclusions. You may well feel that some of
the article authors are biased. But remember: (1) a biased interpretation does not mean the research
itself (the methods or data) is faulty – only that it’s been interpreted in a biased way; and (2) many of
these researchers know a lot more about these topics than you do. Try to read with an open mind.
5. Please use the word “I.” You cannot fulfill the requirements for these papers unless
you use ”I.” And it’s good practice. Own your own thoughts, beliefs, opinions and, especially in the
process section of your paper, your feelings
Analysis (3/4 of paper)
1. The object of this section of your paper is to integrate the material into a
coherent and organized whole and to respond to it, not to summarize the readings. A clearly stated
issue or thesis (even a clearly stated question or personal reaction) and/or a clearly formulated
conclusion, will help you do this. You do not need to have a firm opinion on the issue. You do need to
make your understanding, confusion, or position (if you have one) obvious to your reader (i.e., me).
2. You must specifically discuss and respond to the evidence presented in the
readings – the specific research findings, logical arguments, interpretations, and conclusions – not just
to the ideas they generated for you or for the class as a whole. You need to remember that most of the
authors we will be reading are social scientists and their work is based on extensive research. Although
the specific conclusions and interpretations made by these authors may be subject to bias (as are all
conclusions and interpretations made by anyone), they have all collected, analyzed, and/or reviewed real
data that very likely represents something real about the world or society in which we live and about
certain individuals’ experience of it. I thus encourage you to try to take the research data at face value,
even if it does not match your own experience, and to deal seriously with it.
3. Personal experience is anecdotal in nature, cannot be generalized to others or
assumed to represent a larger truth, and cannot be substituted for more appropriate evidence. I
encourage you to use personal experience in examples and to apply this material to your personal life in
your papers. But a paper that deals only with personal experience does not satisfy the requirements of
the assignment. The analysis must also (and primarily) deal with the research presented in your
4. Your personal opinions also have an important place in your discussion, but
must be supported with evidence and, if they diverge from what you think is being presented in
the readings, measured against the evidence presented there. Personal opinion is an outgrowth of
personal experience, and like personal experience, is often limited by lack of exposure to other ideas,
values, and empirical evidence.
5. Finally, note that there are no right answers here, and you do not have to like
what these authors or the research they discuss say nor agree with their conclusions or
interpretations in order to write a good paper. You do, however, have to critically engage with the
evidence they present and explore any objections to their conclusions. This means offering alternative
explanations for their findings, arguing that their research is limited in some way (e.g., only applicable to white, middle-class college-age students like their subjects), or maybe even flawed (although this might be very difficult to determine).
Process (1/4 of paper)
1. To engage in “process” is to step outside of your normal ways of engaging with
class material and to “watch” or “observe” yourself as you so engage. That is, there is the “you”
who thinks and analyzes, who has personal experiences and opinions, and who has emotional reactions.
That’s the “you” who will engage in analysis of the readings. When you watch or observe that “you,”
note what it is doing, and try to figure out why it is doing what it is doing, you are engaging in process.
2. Experience, belief, and opinion are not “process.” They are an important part of
any conversation about process, but the “process” I want you to engage in and write about is the process
of watching or observing how your experiences, beliefs, and opinions are validated, challenged, and/or
changed by the material we read and talk about, and how you feel about that. Emotions are important
here – they provide you with information about how these readings are affecting you. If you’re excited,
or angry, or bored, why? About what or with whom? What does this tell you about your understanding
of the ideas or issues raised by the readings?
3. Process allows you the space to become aware of your own stereotypes,
expectations, beliefs, values, and assumptions about these issues and to make them explicit in your
writing. A good way to start your process section is to note what you thought about this issue before
you read the material and/or what your initial reactions were to the readings or discussions. You might
also note which ideas were (or are) particularly difficult or threatening, and why, and which ideas, if any,
were particularly exciting or validating. Remember that personal beliefs and assumptions (opinions) are
often formed in the absence of adequate information and cannot be substituted for more appropriate
evidence. The point is therefore to try to hold your own stereotypes, expectations, beliefs, values, and
assumptions up against the evidence presented in these readings, and then to examine the basis for your
thoughts and feelings (e.g., opinion, fear, moral values, experience, information, other expert sources).
Challenge yourself!!! And see where the process takes you.
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