Archive for August 16th, 2011

Figure 32: Essay Excerpt on the Subject of Genealogy and Faulkner’s Double Consciousness

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Meaning of This?

You may access the comment by clicking on the “M” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

First, the study of genealogy—of cultural patterns/social constraints and charting the impact of familial values—suggests that it can, indeed, carry and reveal meaning. The ability to remain consistent in the process of determining the beginning of things requires (on the part of the genealogist) an attention to detail and specifics. Genealogy is proactive in its effort to procure and record vital information that demands one’s familiarity with the “history of morals, ideals, and metaphysical concepts” and the historical process (Cahoone 246).  It plays an even more specific role in the idea that it doesn’t stand in opposition to history (Cahoone 242). It is categorical in nature; and regardless of its ability to duplicate documents and historical information, genealogy operates “on a field of entangled and confused parchments, on documents that have been scratched over and recopied many times” (Cahoone 241), producing a precise and an accurate account of the impact of social values and cultural patterns upon all individuals and humanity.

Figure 32: Essay Excerpt on the Subject of Genealogy and Faulkner’s Double Consciousness

Problems

1) The student doesn’t define how she will use a particular term within the context of her essay.

2) In addition, the student personifies the term within the context of her essay.

3) The original author doesn’t personify the term.

Questions

1) In what way does “genealogy” carry and reveal meaning?

2) Is the effect here similar to a person carrying and revealing something, as if the something represents, for example, a purse?

Critique

1) “Genealogy” is not a person. “Genealogy is proactive . . .” is an example of personification.

2) It is much simpler to change “genealogy” to “genealogist.”

3) How do we know that “genealogy” is categorical in nature?

4) What does it mean to be “categorical in nature?”

5) What is the definition of “category” within the context of the paragraph?

Suggestion

The best solution: Paint a picture.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Meaning of This?

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

Before moving forward with the discussion, read the last bolded statement under the section titled “Suggestion.” This is the quickest method for explaining “Meaning of This?”

When confronted with this comment, it doesn’t matter what kind of paper you write. Where you attempt to convey a specific point that is hard to explain, a picture will undoubtedly make the point. When you look at a picture, it has so many messages that they begin to form words, turning words into sentences and sometimes into a story.

Read the following sample excerpt before continuing. The student writer uses and overuses personification, but doesn’t introduce to the reader the purpose for choosing this method or how she will use this technique. In addition, the writer switches between personification and 3rd-person point of view. Let’s read.

Sample Excerpt

First, the study of genealogy—of cultural patterns/social constraints and charting the impact of familial values—suggests that it can, indeed, carry and reveal meaning. The ability to remain consistent in the process of determining the beginning of things requires (on the part of the genealogist) an attention to detail and specifics. Genealogy is proactive in its effort to procure and record vital information that demands one’s familiarity with the “history of morals, ideals, and metaphysical concepts” and the historical process (Cahoone 246).  It plays an even more specific role in the idea that it doesn’t stand in opposition to history (Cahoone 242). It is categorical in nature; and regardless of its ability to duplicate documents and historical information, genealogy operates “on a field of entangled and confused parchments, on documents that have been scratched over and recopied many times” (Cahoone 241), producing a precise and an accurate account of the impact of social values and cultural patterns upon all individuals and humanity.

Figure 32: Essay Excerpt on the Subject of Genealogy and Faulkner’s Double Consciousness

Problems

1) The student doesn’t define how she will use a particular term within the context of her essay.

2) In addition, the student personifies the term within the context of her essay.

3) The original author doesn’t personify the term.

Questions

1) In what way does “genealogy” carry and reveal meaning?

2) Is the effect here similar to a person carrying and revealing something, as if the something represents, for example, a purse?

Critique

1) “Genealogy” is not a person. “Genealogy is proactive . . .” is an example of personification.

2) It is much simpler to change “genealogy” to “genealogist.”

3) How do we know that “genealogy” is categorical in nature?

4) What does it mean to be “categorical in nature?”

5) What is the definition of “category” within the context of the paragraph?

Suggestion

The best solution: Paint a picture.

Revision Considerations

It is clear that the writer needs to paint a picture. There is foundation in the analysis, but what makes the analysis is the supporting information. Here are some easy steps to consider as you revise for meaning:

1) Either introduce to the reader that you will personify “genealogy” or remove the instances of personification altogether.

2) Change statements to reflect 3rd-person’s observer’s point of view.

3) Define terms. Explain concepts. Don’t use personification when you can clearly use other options to convey your point.

Personification is the attribution of human-like qualities to the inanimate.

4) Paint a picture of what you want to convey.

In other words, in the sample excerpt the writer may have easily included an example of an unclean room with toys and clothes and shoes everywhere, not a dish cleaned; a room that needs cleaning and one that needs to be straightened, put back into order. Since the room can’t clean itself, then some person needs to come in and clean it and return items back to where they were.

After this example, include how this relates to the role of a genealogist. You may argue within the paper that the genealogist operates on the same level; since documents can’t explain themselves, the genealogist must equip himself or herself with the task of bringing order to chaos. This is your example. You have just painted a picture. You have provided meaning to your example also.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Figure 31: Essay Excerpt on Elisa, “Chrysanthemums”

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Avoid Plot Summary.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “A” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

They both leave and Elisa notices the visitor as they pass him on the road.  She tried not to look, but did anyway.  She failed to tell Henry that he’d stopped by.  She comments that their outing would be good tonight; Henry instantly noticed that she had changed again.  Elisa notices the plants on the side of the road that the visitor throws out.  She immediately feels rejected and defeated.

Figure 31: Essay Excerpt on Elisa, “Chrysanthemums”

Problems

In the sample excerpt, the student recounts the events of Steinbeck’s short story, “Chrysanthemums.” The student doesn’t provide an analysis of the imagery the author uses to convey Elisa’s sentiments and feelings about the visitor’s lack of respect for the chrysanthemums. In other words, the student doesn’t evaluate the significance of the flowers to Elisa.

Questions

Why does Elisa feel rejected as she sees the flowers on the road? What do the flowers mean to Elisa? Provide in-text evidence.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Avoid Plot Summary

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

Unless you are writing a technical report that represents an investigation of an incident, never retell the plot of a story in your paper. You can always include a summary of how the relationship between two characters comes to be. Just remember that your professor is familiar with the story, so only a mere three to four lines suffices.

You know when you are in danger of plot summary when these four lines transition into one large paragraph. The sample excerpt represents plot summary. Information below represents an explanation of the student’s problem more fully and includes questions to help the student remove the plot summary. With this in mind, one method that works well for removing plot summary and developing an analysis is answering the questions. In answering the questions, you are analyzing the passages and the theme or themes that are present throughout a work. Let’s read.

Sample Excerpt

They both leave and Elisa notices the visitor as they pass him on the road.  She tried not to look, but did anyway.  She failed to tell Henry that he’d stopped by.  She comments that their outing would be good tonight; Henry instantly noticed that she had changed again.  Elisa notices the plants on the side of the road that the visitor throws out.  She immediately feels rejected and defeated.

Figure 31: Essay Excerpt on Elisa, “Chrysanthemums”

Problems

In the sample excerpt, the student recounts the events of Steinbeck’s short story, “Chrysanthemums.” The student doesn’t provide an analysis of the imagery the author uses to convey Elisa’s sentiments and feelings about the visitor’s lack of respect for the chrysanthemums. In other words, the student doesn’t evaluate the significance of the flowers to Elisa.

Questions

Why does Elisa feel rejected as she sees the flowers on the road? What do the flowers mean to Elisa? Provide in-text evidence.

Revision Considerations

Another method for removing plot summary is to separate those sentences that represent a retelling of the story. The first step is to examine the sentences. Evaluate them in light of the other sentences you use.

The second step is to determine why you feel the need to retell the story. In other words, what purpose do you want the sentences to serve within a particular body paragraph? If your plot summary is four or more lines, then you have to revise them so that they are only two sentences.

In essence, you only need two prep sentences for the beginning of your analysis. Before you can construct the prep sentences, you must determine what purpose you want the full body paragraph to serve. Then determine the purpose for each sentence you want to use to convey your ideas about the literary work.

Consider the following scenario:

If one body paragraph will highlight all of the issues Character A has in the literary work, then each sentence must service this purpose.

Topic Sentence A will introduce the character’s problem.

Supporting Sentence A will provide a sample event or action.

The prep sentence for Quote A will introduce the quote.

Follow-up Sentence A will evaluate the quote, its significance in the story, which will then lead to another event. Linking events may require a retelling of one part of the story.

Therefore, Two-Sentence Plot Summary A will serve a two-fold purpose: 1) provide more information about the character and also 2) provide a transition between events. After inserting the plot summary, you may insert more evaluation, another quote, or follow-up statements about the summary and/or quote.

The purpose here is to help you think more about the words on the page so you can analyze them. Bringing in a wealth of plot summary doesn’t serve as a fulfillment of the course requirements. Your job as the student is to analyze, not retell the story. You only need no more than two or a maximum of four sentences as prep statements for a quote or for your analysis. Keep this in mind as you revise your analysis.

See also the comment “Move Beyond Summary of Author’s Ideas: Analyze vs. Summarize” for an extended explanation.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Figure 30: Essay Excerpt on De Quincey, “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” Thomas De Quincey

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Analyze This.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “A” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

De Quincey resolves his nightmares by offering the reader a slight abstraction of the Oriental dreams.  Before, the dreams had been moral and spiritual terrors, but now the main agents were ugly birds, or snakes or crocodiles, especially the last; “The cursed crocodile became to me the object of more horror than almost all the rest” (457).  The reptile continues to haunt him as he is awakened by small gentle voices speaking to him.  It was his children standing before him showing how well they looked for their outing; because he was able to make the transition from the crocodile to the sight of “human natures and of infancy,” he wept (457).

Figure 30: Essay Excerpt on De Quincey, “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” Thomas De Quincey

Questions

1) What is the meaning of “slight abstraction”? Analyze this: slight abstraction.

2) How does De Quincey change from being horrified by his nightmares to being fascinated with the innocence of the smallest “human nature”?

3) Why does he weep?

Revision Consideration

Analyze your use of the quote within the context of the work. What is significant about the quote? Why do you place it at the end of your analysis? What does “human natures and of infancy” mean? Ask and answer as many questions as you can to develop your analysis.

In addition, analyze the keywords you use within the work. What does “slight abstraction” mean within the context of your essay as the term relates to the context of the work.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Analyze This

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

It is never enough to incorporate a quote. Professors aren’t impressed that you know how to insert a quote within one of your body paragraphs. They want you to analyze the quote. In addition, as professors highlight recurring events and categorize them as themes, they want you to evaluate how those themes affect your understanding about the literary work. The author never writes, “This is a theme in my work.” He just writes. It is up to the professor to point out events, problems, and relationships, which may represent recurring issues or themes in the author’s work.

Therefore, your job is to examine, evaluate, and apply what your professor labels as a theme from all sides. Answer this question: How many sides does this theme have? In reference to sides, we mean corresponding examples. If Male Character A constantly struggles with Issue A, then what does the character’s struggle represent to you?

You must first answer this question, because your answer will represent the introductory statement for your analysis. Now determine if the character’s Issue A is prevalent throughout the work. This is not a recurring theme, but the character’s issue will take you to other areas in the work that affect the character’s views about himself and the world. One or more themes surface when the main character interacts with other characters and causes or is the subject of multiple fictional events. Consider the following scenario:

For example, you may believe that the theme of jealousy is present in Literary Work A. In this literary work, Female Character A constantly struggles with jealousy from beginning to end. From the time the story begins, she is jealous of Female Character B. A hates B and A does everything to try to hinder the progress of B. We see in the work multiple areas where A tries to hurt B. Event A is a great example. Because of her jealousy, Female Character A decides to lie about B so B can’t get the job she wants. B is upset, but perseveres and continues to seek employment later in the story. However, A shows up again and causes Event B.

The theme of jealousy in the literary work is present throughout the work. In other words, it is a recurring theme where every character must confront it. One character causes a problem and the other characters must live with it or adopt a strategy for dealing with it.

Your job as the student writer is to use what the professor highlights as a theme within your analysis, apply the theme, and analyze it from all directions. All directions (sides) refer to characters, events, impact and context. How does the main character’s jealousy affect other characters, their actions and views about the problem?

With this in mind, the best method for developing an analysis is to answer who, what, where, why, when, how, in what way, and to whom. Who does what to whom, why, for what reason; in what way does he or she do this? How does the other person react? This is analysis: 1) breaking down one huge pie into smaller pieces, 2) analyzing each piece, 3) examining similarities and differences, 4) determining if one is greater in value to the others, and 5) providing in detail your thoughts on each piece.

When applying a theme within your analysis, think of the theme as a huge pie. All of the pieces represent the protagonist, supporting characters, corresponding themes, context and location, and author’s intent (purpose). In analyzing a passage within your paper, dare to examine the relationship between all of these characteristics of the work you are discussing. The following is a sample excerpt from a student paper. The student incorporates a useful quote, but fails to address its qualities within the analysis of the paper.

Sample Excerpt

De Quincey resolves his nightmares by offering the reader a slight abstraction of the Oriental dreams.  Before, the dreams had been moral and spiritual terrors, but now the main agents were ugly birds, or snakes or crocodiles, especially the last; “The cursed crocodile became to me the object of more horror than almost all the rest” (457).  The reptile continues to haunt him as he is awakened by small gentle voices speaking to him.  It was his children standing before him showing how well they looked for their outing; because he was able to make the transition from the crocodile to the sight of “human natures and of infancy,” he wept (457).

Figure 30: Essay Excerpt on De Quincey, “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” Thomas De Quincey

Questions

1) What is the meaning of “slight abstraction”? Analyze this: slight abstraction.

2) How does De Quincey change from being horrified by his nightmares to being fascinated with the innocence of the smallest “human nature”?

3) Why does he weep?

Revision Consideration

Analyze your use of the quote within the context of the work. What is significant about the quote? Why do you place it at the end of your analysis? What does “human natures and of infancy” mean? Ask and answer as many questions as you can to develop your analysis.

In addition, analyze the keywords you use within the work. What does “slight abstraction” mean within the context of your essay as the term relates to the context of the work.

For an extended explanation, see also the comments “Elaborate” and “Not a Theme In.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Analyze Rather Than Summarize

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

See the category “Analysis (Glossary Comment)” and the comment “Move Beyond Summary of Author’s Ideas: Analyze vs. Summarize.” The comment “Analysis” forms Chapter 9: Revising the Analysis, which represents the fifth draft of the revision writing process.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Plagiarism

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

For an explanation, see the comments “Too Close to the Original” and “Introduce the Quote.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Too Close to the Original

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

The comment “Too Close to the Original” refers to your paraphrase as border-line plagiarism.  Below is an example of a quote. The example paraphrase that follows represents border-line plagiarism. See the comment “Introduce the Quote” for an extended explanation of how to incorporate a quote.

Original Quote

The following represents a blockquote according to MLA standards.

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of  seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world.  It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.  On ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. (Du Bois)

Paraphrase

In “The Souls of Black Folk,” Du Bois states that the nineteenth-century Negro always looks at himself through the eyes of others (). Although the paraphrase merely incorporates just one line from Du Bois’s quote, changes “one’s self” to “himself,” and adds the citation information at the end, the paraphrase is still too close to the original. Let’s examine a possible revision.

Revision

In “The Souls of Black Folk,” Du Bois states that the nineteenth-century Negro people don’t define themselves according to their own dictates, according to their own personal views about themselves in relation to society. Instead, they measure themselves according to what others say about them, “by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity” ().

The revision is much different from the first paraphrase. The writer is forced to read between the lines, to examine beyond the surface and look beneath the meanings of the words on the page. In adopting such a method, the writer determines what is most important for the reader to know and then puts this vital information into his or her own words. During the process, the writer adds another line to reiterate his or her point and incorporates a quote directly from Du Bois’s words, with a citation.

Revision Consideration

The best solution to revising a paraphrase is to bring in the actual quote, which is the simplest way of directly fixing the problem. Another solution is to think about what the author wants you to take from reading the work, construct what you think he or she is attempting to convey, and use your construction as a paraphrase. If you adopt the second option, check your paraphrase against the original to determine if there is a match in meaning, but not word-for-word. Add the citation reference information at the end.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment

Overdependence on Quotes

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

Professors never appreciate when students flood their papers with half-page quotes. In addition, professors also don’t appreciate when students have a quote, or more than one quote, on each page of their papers; or when a student uses a quote to make a point instead of starting out a paragraph with his or her own words.

The purpose of analysis is to think critically about the subject before you, not to depend solely on what the author presents to you as the only truth. When you incorporate so many quotes from the author’s work, the reader and your professor cannot and do not hear your voice, what you think concerning the author’s views about dogs and their niceness. Do you have an opinion? What is it? What is your opinion in relation to the authors’?

As a revision objective, always prepare the reader for an incoming quote by incorporating your own words first, your thoughts about the subject. Remember that the quotes you incorporate within the paper only need to function as a complement to what you have discussed already; they need to confirm your own thoughts, not supplant them. This is your paper. You do have a right to an opinion. Make it.

For an extended explanation, see also the comments “Introduce the Quote,” “Explicate the Quote,” and “Analyze This.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a comment