Archive for category E

Explain Why This is Significant

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

What is the purpose of looking for a job? Is it to get a job? What is the purpose of getting a job?  Is it to gain more skills (and to have a job)? What is the purpose of gaining more skills? Is it to be developed in a certain job field (and to have a job)?

We can keep going with the questions, but more questions are not necessary to outline what “Explain Why This is Significant” means. If you present one idea in your paper but don’t discuss how the one idea fits overall into the scheme of your paper, then you undoubtedly will receive the above comment. Always ask this question: What’s the purpose of “this” here in “this” paragraph or section? Why do I need “this” here? Can the paragraph function without “this”? In other words, what is so significant about “this”? Yes, be dramatic and add “so.”

Pretend you are asking someone else why he or she thinks one thing is important and do so in a fashion that is indicative of you challenging what your friend has to offer. Then you will be able to answer your own question. If you can’t answer why, then consider removing that idea, quote, or statement from a body paragraph. However, if you believe it is significant enough to include, then you must also believe that it is significant enough to explain.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


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Explicate the Quote

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

“Tell me the truth!” You can hear your mother saying these words, or even Tom Cruise saying the equivalent of this to Jack Nicholson. When your mother says these words, she wants you to tell her the whole truth. Don’t leave anything out, regardless of if you believe it is vital to the story or just some small bit of nothing. She wants you to let her decide before she hands down your punishment.

With this in mind, “Explicate the Quote” means tell the “whole” truth. Don’t leave anything out; but also don’t leave anything implied. In the following sample excerpt, the student doesn’t explicate the indented quote. Instead, within the analysis, the student just incorporates a quote and begins in the next paragraph discussing some other issue in De Quincey’s work about the Malay.

When you receive an assignment that involves analyzing a work of literature, everything in that work is already implied. The work is full of implications and inferences, connotations and denotations. Your job, as the writer, is to bring what’s hidden to light so we, as the other readers, can see the hidden. Unless you help us to understand the hidden textual meanings of the author’s work, we won’t know anything about what the author stands for, his motivations for writing the piece, and his purpose.

Leave nothing implied during the process of analysis. Explicate the quote.  Make it plain for us, the readers, to understand. Only after this can you move forward into discussing other ideas and messages evoked from the text.

Sample Excerpt

De Quincey now through the opium is having nightmarish dreams.  He refers to the Malay as a fearful enemy (456).  He asserts that if he should ever have to leave England and live in China, among their manners and modes of life and scenery, he shall go mad (456).  In this dream, his journey of prejudice leads him to make several more references to the Chinese (Oriental):

A young Chinese seems to me an antediluvian man renewed . . . man is a weed in those regions (Asia) . . . I am terrified by the modes of life, by the manner  . .  . and want of sympathy placed between us by feelings deeper than I can analyze.  I could sooner live with lunatics or brute animals. . . . (456)

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).

Figure 29: Essay Excerpt on De Quincey, “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” Thomas De Quincey


1) What does “antediluvian” mean? Of what “modes of life” is De Quincey terrified?

2) What is the manner of sympathy? What is the want of sympathy? What is the difference between the two?

3) Why does De Quincey want to live with lunatics or brute animals.


In the space after the quote, analyze the quote before moving forward into other discussions of De Quincey’s work.

Develop a line-by-line analysis of the quote. Note the structure of the sentences and the author’s attitude.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


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The comment “Excellent” is an affirmative reply.

A professor may write this comment after reading the paper as a whole; or a professor may write “excellent” in the margin of a particular paragraph. The professor typically writes the comment after reading the whole paper. In addition, a professor is never generous with this comment. Similar to “Brilliantly Done,” your paper has to earn this accolade. Typically, out of a class range between 25 and 30 will one person receive this comment, but not all of the time or every semester.

When a professor receives a flood of papers—the final assignment—at the end of a semester, the papers he or she receives represent kinds, or types. Think about the different types of a kind. For example, a Granny Smith is a kind, or type of apple. A Gala is another kind, or type of apple. Each is different in color and taste and they both represent kinds. When your professor receives all of the papers from you and your fellow classmates, these papers, again, represent kinds, or types.

Within the stack of papers, the first paper may represent a plot summary with no analysis. Another student may flood his or her paper with too many quotes.  Yet another paper may take much of the author’s words and meanings out of context.  Regardless, these are papers that propose to represent a student’s adherence to the final requirement. Therefore, the result of the students’ labors is represented in the form of a paper, a kind.

Within these different kinds lies one that is extraordinarily above all. This one student’s paper not only adheres to the final requirement, which is the first step to assigning a grade, but also the student’s paper goes above and beyond in quality and is set apart from the rest. What happens when you go to a community market to pick out an apple or orange or banana? You fumble through all to find the very best, because you can’t just eat anything.

You don’t want the one that is rotten, or the one that is soft on one side and hard on another, or the one that has lost its color. You want the best that the tree has produced. This same ideology applies to a professor grading your paper and you receiving the comment “Excellent.” Out of the whole stack, the whole bin, your paper has received the best commendation.

Remember that just because you have adhered to the final requirement doesn’t mean you have produced a quality effort or a paper of excellence; but if you should receive such a comment, I would take heed to it. Ask your professor what he means by the comment. Ask him to point out specific instances “where,” “why,” and “how” you have earned “excellence.” Something or someone of excellence is always a thing (or person) that is outstandingly and surpassingly good of its kind; a person who exhibits exceptional merit and produces such value consistently is a person of excellence within the context of writing.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Excellent Synthesis

A person creates a pie by bringing together different ingredients. The base of any pie or cake is eggs, milk, sugar, and flour. Other ingredients are added for flavor such as vanilla extract, nutmeg, cinnamon, and some fruit. What you choose to add for “other” ingredients depends upon the kind of pie or cake you want to make. No matter what kind of pie or cake you plan to create, you must have your base. Therefore, eggs, milk, sugar, and flour are your foundation. Without these key ingredients, your pie or cake can’t function as a pie or cake. All of the “other” ingredients will be in the bowl for aesthetic value alone.

When you keep the base and add in the “other,” and mix the base with the other ingredients, you no longer taste the base, but you can taste the cinnamon or the nutmeg. This is because the person mixes all of the ingredients together to form what the whole will taste like. If you plan to make a sweet potato pie, the final product should include nutmeg within this kind of pie. If nutmeg is missing as a key ingredient, then any grandmother, mother, or chef will know.

When you write a paper that has an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion, you have established your base. When you add “other” ingredients such as a thesis, a theme, and credible supporting information, you begin to make a specific type of pie or cake. If you write your paper (create your pie/cake) with the intention of developing it as an argument, then the final product needs to reflect this. If one ingredient is missing, then any teacher, professor, or rhetorician will know immediately that you do not have a fully prepared, fully baked paper.

For example, if you have only the thesis, or the support, these elements are just “other” ingredients in a bowl; they appear aesthetically pleasing, but they are not the “base.” If you have these ingredients, the foundational elements, and all of the pieces of an argument, then you have a fully developed paper.

With this in mind, to synthesize something is to put together purposely parts or elements with the intention of forming a whole. No one ever sits down to piece together a puzzle with the intention of leaving out the defining piece. When you receive the comment “Excellent Synthesis,” your paper reflects, as a final product, the five-paragraph format, the base; a clearly definable thesis; verifiable and credible support; appropriately transitioned paragraphs; proofread and revised content; and a well-developed argument, missing none of the standard pieces that form an argument.

Your paper also reflects a careful, conscious consideration of each element organized into a whole. “Excellent synthesis” means that your paper is whole, nothing missing, nothing forgotten, nothing left to be assumed.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Explain/Explain This

You might receive the comment “Explain/Explain This” versus “Much More Could Be Said Here” because some professors, while grading papers, will write the same way they think. For example, if a professor is in conversation with someone and the other person says something that twitches the ear, the professor will say “explain.” On the other hand, if any one of us is at a conference and the speaker says something that has caught our attention we think this: “What does he mean by that?” However, we say, “He needs to explain himself better. I don’t understand what he means by that.”

In most cases, the speaker isn’t really afforded the opportunity to go into depth in a 10-minute to 15-minute speech. It is highly likely that a speaker will not present the subject matter in its entirety within the one speech. You can rest assured that a person in the audience will want more of an explanation with regard to a specific issue.

Likewise, although it is not possible to add more information within a 12-page paper, you can choose your battles. Instead of adding information that just fills up your paper, you can focus on three key issues and analyze as much as you can about those issues. If you focus on three themes within a story, or one theme with three secondary elements, you have more than enough for a paper.

The reason why many students, including myself in the past, receive “Explain/Explain This” is because they try to fill up their papers with so much content instead of focusing on key pieces of information and doing a quality job. As you can see in Figure 16, much more is needed. The only thing the excerpt is guilty of is the presence of filler, but the excerpt is innocent of “analysis.” The student doesn’t define the desires or aspirations of the weak nor does she define what it means to be “unaccommodating.” In other words, she doesn’t provide an answer for how the restrainer governs the accommodating.

Sample Excerpt

Blake criticizes the weak in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”  He claims that the weak restrain their desire because their aspiration is weak or without defense; it’s also implied that the restrainer governs the unaccommodating (56).

Figure 16: Essay Excerpt on The Ideas of William Blake


1) Why does Blake choose to criticize the weak over anyone else?

2) How do the weak restrain their desire?

3) What is their desire?

Revision Considerations

Research “explain” in a dictionary and a thesaurus. You will see a number of definitions and methods for the word. One definition of the word includes “to account for.”  You have undoubtedly heard the statements “Take responsibility” and “Be accountable.” When you assume the task of writing about a certain author’s work, it is important that you represent that author’s work as appropriately and accurately as humanly possible.

To misquote is to misrepresent the author’s viewpoints and belief systems. This is why it is important to focus on key issues because your papers can easily take a wrong turn with added explanations that may not be accurate, but instead represent belief systems projected onto an author’s work.

In other words, an author doesn’t set out to write about a “theme.” When you read an author’s work, you notice a recurring idea, and you call it a theme. It is your job to note this difference within your papers. “Explain/Explain This” means be accountable for every comment you make, for anything you label as an implication, and for incorporating appropriate context.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Explain the Parallel Here

Boxers are classified into divisions according to weight. A heavyweight boxer weighs much more than average and is typically 195 pounds. A lightweight boxer weighs one below normal weight and the maximum is 135 pounds. The lightweight is no match for the heavyweight.  There are rules concerning how each fighter will fight and who each fighter will fight. It is immoral, unethical, and illegal, and it really just doesn’t make common sense, to bring together two fighters who are mismatched. The same rule applies to developing a parallel within your papers. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Why do I believe one thing correlates to or is match to the other thing?

2) Are both things dependent upon each other?

3) Or are they completely independent and self-sustaining?

4) Is there a connection? If so, then what connects the two?

5) What purpose will one thing have with the other?

6) What purpose will I show from proving that one thing is paralleled to another?

One of the many definitions for “parallel” centers on the meaning “extending in the same direction and at the same distance apart at every point, so as never to meet, as lines, planes.”  You can find this definition in Webster’s New World College Dictionary. When you take math in school, you learn about parallel and perpendicular lines. Perpendicular lines always meet, but parallel lines never meet or intersect. You plot points on a graph, but the points are plotted in such a way that the lines are destined, so to speak, not to meet.

When you say that one idea is a parallel to another idea, the ideas must never intertwine or become one. Each line of a parallel is independent of the other, fully functional, and fully self-sustaining; so the examples you provide within your papers, the examples you want to define as a parallel, must also “both” be independent of the other, fully self-sustainable. They must be a match, on the very same level. A lightweight can’t be matched with a heavyweight, because the latter will overpower the former. The lightweight is not weaker in value; instead, the weight of the lightweight is just different from the weight of the heavyweight. They are not true counterparts, because they are not really equal in value or strength.

In Figure 15, the student attempts to prove that there is a parallel between the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve and Rossetti’s “Goblin Market.” The student’s attempt is unsuccessful, because she outlines the qualities of each story, but don’t describe the parallel. She doesn’t describe “what” parallels “what.” Let’s read the excerpt.

Sample Excerpt

The concept of fall and redemption will always date back biblically to Adam and Eve.  Adam and Eve were the first two human beings created by God.  When Eve was led to believe (by Satan) that the apple she picked was good for food, she ate and “also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6).  How this relates to “Goblin Market” is clearly implied.  Lizzie and Laura, the two main characters (sisters), are similar to God and Adam and Eve.  Lizzie consistently warns Laura not to buy the goblin’s fruits.  The goblins are the antagonists and they are synonymous with the devil.  Lizzie forewarns, “We must not look at goblin men, / We must not buy their fruits:/ Who knows upon what soil they fed/ Their hungry thirsty roots?” (42-45); and all the while the goblins are continually shouting, “Come buy, come buy” (Rossetti 1479).

Figure 15: Essay Excerpt on “Goblin Market”


1) Beginning with “forewarn,” what does God say to Adam?

2) Does God say to Adam “Don’t look” or “Don’t buy”?

3) What is significant about “Come buy, come buy?” Is it sensual?

4) What is the first image you get upon reading these words? Upon listening if you heard them?

5) How does the biblical fall relate to the fall within “Goblin Market”?


The student doesn’t address the parallel between the fall in the bible and the fall of the characters within Rosetti’s poem.

In terms of understanding how to compare/contrast (parallel) two contexts, I want you to visualize an example. Think about the image of sewing two fabrics together. You need a needle and thread to sew and two fabrics into which to sew. Think about you as the needle (the paper writer) and the thread (the connector) as the instrument that connects ideas. One fabric represents an idea (a parallel line); and another fabric represents the other idea (another parallel line). As the needle, your job is to find a way to connect the one fabric with the other.

After turning the garment over multiple times, you find a small area with which to begin sewing and start there. Just because you can sew doesn’t mean you can sew in a straight line. It is important to take precautions early to prevent from sewing the garments in a crooked line, haphazardly, with no purpose in mind. However, it is possible to sew the two garments together with two distinctive lines that never meet. The garment stays connected, but the two lines never have to meet, or intersect.

Remember it is not enough to say (suggest) one story has a connection to another story without really outlining the connection. To parallel one thing with another is to compare one with the other in order to find similarities, to find the one thing’s match to the other, without tangling the ideas so that they intersect and appear as one idea in the final analysis.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Interesting/Interesting!

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Examine Evidence from the Text

During my graduate study, I enrolled in a required literary theory class. In this class, my professor gave me an assignment to present and write a paper on Edmund Husserl’s The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Husserl, a Moravian-born German philosopher of the early twentieth century, invents phenomenology. It is his hope, as a critic writing to other critics, that we return to the value embedded within concrete human experience and totally disregard scientific naturalism (Cahoone 149). Somewhere, somebody knows what I have just written. Someone reading this glossary understands the nature of “phenomenology,” but please don’t ask me to “elaborate.” If I am asked to do so, I might have to stop here.

The point I am trying to make involves the comment “look at the immediate text” or “Examine Evidence from the Text.” In my attempt to apply postmodern ideas to Husserl’s work, I lost my reader, my professor. The comment “Don’t Quote without Context” is different from “Examine Evidence from the Text” because in one instance (in the former), a wants you to add context; he or she wants you to examine the environment evoked from the text and the environment that contributed to the writing of the text.

However, in the latter instance, “Examine Evidence from the Text” means that you need only to examine all of the evidence the author provides. In other words, provide all of the definitions the author provides within your paper. Don’t use as a last resort a dictionary or a thesaurus in this instance, because the dictionary meanings don’t apply. How the author presents a word and its definition within the context of the work is how he or she wants you to understand it and relate it in your paper, “exactly.” The author bases his understanding of the words according to the context in which he writes.

The best method for examining evidence from the text is to evaluate the primary title, secondary title, how the author has structured the information, and if the information is logically organized as it is presented to you. Here are some questions to consider as you revise your body paragraphs:

1) From what verb tense is the work written? Is there a shift in verb tense?

2) What point of view does the author use? Does the author shift between first-person and third-person points of views?

3) Does the author provide secondary characters?

4) Does the author provide information about a certain country or types of contexts?

5) What evidence does the author provide concerning the date of composition, time period, surrounding historical events, parallels to what has happened before his or her day and what is going on as you read and write about the text?

Your professor wants you to look only at the immediate text, so a good habit to develop centers on annotation. In other words, make a photocopy of the text and use the text as an annotation instrument. Develop categories and a color-coding system for referencing purposes. Use categories such as “date of composition,” “historical context,” “events of the text,” and “author’s point of view” to refer to those areas of the text. Annotate the text based upon these categories.

Another option is to type and/or paste the content of the work into a Microsoft Word document. Ask questions concerning why an author such as Husserl might want to invent “phenomenology.” Why does he take this particular concept to task? What has motivated him to do so? Who or what has contributed to his views?  Just remember this: answer these questions based upon what the immediate text implies. The immediate text is the text that is sitting upright and open on your desk, nothing else.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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The comment “exactly” is used as an affirmative reply.  Professors may direct the reply toward the whole paper or just one section paragraph. Such a reply typically calls attention to a section where your analysis works in conjunction with a quote you are incorporating or your analysis works in conjunction with the author’s main claim. In other words, your professor is calling attention to your ability not only to incorporate a quote, but also understand its underlying implications and the meanings evoked from just looking at the immediate text.

Based upon this comment, you have conveyed the author’s purpose with a level of preciseness and accuracy. For example, an author writes with purpose. The purpose might be to inform or to persuade; either way the author is motivated by some thing, person, or event. Since this is typically true, the ideas you express within your paper reflect a true testament to the author’s work.

With this in mind, examine the following excerpt where the student develops statements that correspond exactly to the ideas the author expresses within his work.

Sample Excerpt

Barbarism, in regards to the mass-man, is the absence of norms, standards and authority; it can be manifested in a number of ways.  The mass-man has a number of ideas, but fails to incorporate those ideas.  He lacks the faculty to debate.  He doesn’t see the atmosphere surrounding him where ideas are normally bred and live.  He desires to express opinions, but does not accept the conditions for having ideas to express.  As a result, his ideas are expressed as comical and humorous; “[t]o have an idea is to believe that one has reasons for having it, and thus to believe that reason exists” (Bellow 62).

Figure 14: Essay Excerpt on the Mass-Man, Ortega Y. Gasset

Excerpt Outline

The first sentence is a topic sentence.

The second sentence begins the elaboration phase, the act of applying specifics and detail.

The third sentence continues to define the “mass-man” as barbaric. He lacks the faculty to debate and exercise “intellect.”

The two sentences in bold (4) and (5) are pivotal because they paint a clear picture of the “mass-man.” We can picture the “mass-man” not accepting the proper way of expressions. 


What the excerpt further suggests is that there is a more formal way of expressing ideas in an arena that has civilized and articulate players. If you receive “Exactly,” this means you understand the author’s work. You understand the author’s feelings and attitudes and perspectives. You, as the student, are working side-by-side with the author, in agreement. It is possible to deduce more from this passage, conclusions that come as a result of in-depth research, but for now, in writing the comment “Exactly,” your professor believes that you have a firm grip on the meaning the author evokes from his or her work.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


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Without really going into too much detail, I know you have heard these two statements before:  “Can you elaborate more on that?” and “Go further.”

Well, I just created a contradiction in the sentence above. “Without really going into too much detail” is the opposite response and/or direction to what is implied in “elaborate.” To elaborate means to offer more explanation about something you have just said in written form. The implication to the listener is that you have left out some vital information, and that without it, the statement has no real legs upon which to stand.

Think about the word “assume.” To assume is to think that someone has had prior experience with the thing to which you are referring. Because you assume your friend has been to see the movie, you don’t feel it necessary to discuss the plot and every scene. If anything, it is more of a burden to you to relate all of the information. You figure mentally that if your friend wants to know everything, then she can go to see the movie herself. This is why you only give some specifics and not offer others.

When someone asks you to elaborate, or when your professor wants you to elaborate more on an example you have provided, you have been functioning in a state of assumption. In other words, you do not offer all there is to know about the example; in fact, you assume that the professor already knows and you consider it a burden to you, as the student writing the paper and trying to meet the page requirement, to have to go into so much detail.

If you receive this comment on your paper, go back to sections within your paper where you could have added more, or have gone into more detail. Don’t assume your reader knows everything about your topic. There is nothing wrong with briefly refreshing their memories.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Explain Exactly What You Mean Here

Have you ever heard the phrase “First things first”? What this term means is that before you do anything else, do what needs to be done first. If you don’t do the first, you can’t do what comes after it. In other words, you won’t be equipped enough to do what comes next. For example, you need to furnish your body with the right kind of fuel, carbohydrates in particular, before you can run for either short or long periods of time. In addition, a car needs fuel to run. If the car is on empty, it will not run. Essentially, you have to furnish the car with fuel so the car can help you get to where you need and want to go.

Similarly, you must explain new concepts, new ideas, and new ways of understanding the topic before you can move further on into other ideas within the paper. Otherwise, you will not be equipped enough to do what comes next. You will not be able to explain how one concept relates to another and you will develop the pattern and habit within your writing of just breezing by concepts and examples and not spending time with each to explain their significance. It is absolutely clear within the following excerpt that the student needs to define how she will use the term “workable” within the context of the topic.

Sample Excerpt

Random samples in this study expressed that while women averaged three hours a day in housework in addition to a full-time job, men averaged 17 minutes; “women spent fifty minutes a day of time exclusively with their children; men spent twelve minutes, . . .” to add “working fathers watched television an hour longer than their working wives, and slept a half hour longer each night” (Hochschild 264).  How does this relate to the aforementioned example of the presenter (and woman) and the expected role of woman as a helpmeet?  Working wives are just what they are, “workable” wives, shaped into the ideal image of man; the same workable wives who have to compete for intellectual attention rather than the opposite.

Figure 9: Essay Excerpt of Student Paper on CHESS and Student Health Center: Gender Differences


1) How are working wives shaped into “workable” wives? 

2) What does it mean to be “workable”?

3) To what does “workable” relate?

4) Does it relate to “help meet”?  Economically?  Culturally?

5) Who does the working in the “workable”?

6) Who are the major key players?  The women?  The men?

Revision Considerations

Always define how you will use a term and/or theme within the context of your topic.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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