From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

China, East Asia, and the Pacific World—Source Paper II (Advice)

On this date in Round and Square history

[a] Gateway RF
There are two posts in this assignment (the "prompt" and "advice").
Click below for the other section of this assignment:
Writing From Sources A                    Writing From Sources B
Chinese History and Culture 
History 210
Autumn 2017

Writing From Sources
Stylistic Matters 
*Use Chicago-style footnotes or endnotes for this paper (check my style sheet for instructions, and make sure that you know how to use them before you begin writing).
[b] Examination Cubicle RF

*Although you will list your sources at the beginning of your paper, please include a bibliography that includes the full reference to all of those sources, as well as any others you might use for a quotation or paraphrase in your paper.

*The sources at the beginning of your paper should be written in an effective “shorthand” that makes it apparent to the reader what you will be analyzing. The full source reference will appear in the bibliography (see above), as well as in any footnotes you might use. For example, you should note the chapter or name of the source at the beginning of the paper—just enough to get your point across (e.g. Susan Mann, “Jining 1893-1895). Please refer to the examples on pages two and three.

*Use accurate (and perfect) Chicago-style citation, and use this paper as an opportunity to display your skills. Many websites have clear and accurate footnote/endnote descriptions. Use them to make sure that everything except “citation challenges” are perfect. One of the clearest explanations is on the Chicago Manual of Style Online website. Please note, however, that I insist that you use the “N” and “B” examples; ignore (for our class) “T” and “R.” In short, I do not want in-text citations. Use either footnotes (bottom of the page) or endnotes (end of the document), and, now that you have been practicing all semester, show your skills.


Examples of Footnote and Endnote Formats
Items listed in the bibliography at the end of the paper (note that the last name comes first here).
          Ebrey, Patricia. Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. New York: Free Press, 

          Mair, Victor. The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. New 
          York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Footnotes or endnotes (first reference to a book; note that the page number follows the last comma—there is no need anymore for use of “p.” for “page”). Note the first name/last name format—which is not the same as that used in the bibliography.

          Patricia Ebrey, Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook (New York: Free Press, 
          1993), 154.

          Victor Mair, The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature (New 
          York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 617.

Subsequent references to books (there will be many of these for Mair and Ebrey; pay attention to this “shorthand” style). Example:
          Ebrey, Chinese Civilization, 277.
          Mair, The Columbia Anthology, 725.
          Ebrey, Chinese Civilization, 3. 
[c] Working RF

Reading the Sources 
This assignment is for a source analysis paper, not a traditional persuasive essay. It is meant to give you a hands-on experience in working with historical sources. It is “artificial” in the sense that you will not be working in an archive, but it is no less serious for that. My best advice is for you to make separate copies (this may cost a few dollars, but will be worth it) of each of the readings you choose.Yes, that means I am encouraging you to go to a copy machine (or a scanner) and make a copy of the poems in Mair (or the texts in Ebrey) with which you plan to work. It also means that you should make a copy of the fifteen-page section in The Talented Women of the Zhang Family that you have selected (these are, of course, just examples).

When you have finished your scanning (then printing) or your copying, you will have a bundle of texts in front of you—an artificial and miniature archive. Now is the time to go back through them, underlining and marking key points that will help you to form an argument. This is different from reading in preparation for class, when you should be trying to understand the documents in the wider context of our class discussions. You will now be reading them to help you construct an argument about a theme in Chinese history and/or culture. As you make your notes on the individual texts (some primary, some secondary), it helps to have a blank sheet close by, on which you can start to sketch an outline for the developing argument.

Give yourself enough time for this. The ideal situation is to choose (and copy) your sources well before you write the paper, which leaves you time to work through the texts and their implications during low-pressure study periods of thirty minutes here and there, long before the due date is imminent. Pressure is overrated.
[d] Writing RF

Writing the Paper
Audience, audience, audience.  As you begin to write your paper, have a clear audience in mind. Think of your essay as a way of both arguing a point and patiently explaining the historical and cultural themes that the texts raise. The best way to maintain the correct perspective on audience is to imagine a small group of Beloit College professors who know little about China (imagine Steve Wright, Donna Oliver, Patrick Polley, and Pablo Torals). They are all very intelligent, and know how to construct a superior argument. They need you to teach them about China.  To the extent that you remember this, you will excel; to the extent that you fall into the habit of writing just for your professor, you will err. Remember this.

Your paper should lead the readers through the texts and through an argument about Chinese history or culture.  Let us take the following example. You choose to write a paper about women and marriage in China, selecting an array of sources that includes Ban Zhao’s advice for women, “Women and the Problems they Create,” and several poems from Mair. You also choose a passage each from the books by Mann and Spence (secondary sources of, say, ten pages each dealing with women’s education and women writers, respectively). You read the texts carefully, and, as you begin writing your paper, you maintain a balance between explaining the genres and cultural frameworks of your texts and making your key point (your thesis). The thesis remains important. Let us say that your thesis is that women had significant room for creative social and even literary action (agency) within the traditional patriarchal household, and that the Western “narrative” about women’s life in China treats them (mistakenly) as merely passive figures—pawns among powerful men. If you were writing a traditional paper, you would state that clearly in the first few paragraphs and then find texts to support your point. It is an important skill to develop, and an ability to frame a thesis will help in this assignment.
[e] Foreground (background) RF

A source analysis paper such as this one is different, though. Let us say that your thesis statement is the same as above (women have “agency”). Your paper will develop slightly differently as you make your argument. You will give a great deal of context from your sources.  Indeed, your sources will figure far more richly in your paper than in most traditional persuasive essays. You will spend time showing, for example, how Ban Zhao’s admonitions for women work as a narrative form—how she proceeds in a contrapuntal manner that gives context to her seemingly “no exceptions” rhetoric. You will break down the verbal (and possibly even rhyme) schemes of the poems you analyze. You will, in short, open the world of the texts to your readers as little worlds unto themselves. This kind of paper argues a thesis and teaches cultural context. Your mission will be both persuasive and illustrative. You will persuade through your argument about female “agency;” you will illustrate (and instruct) by placing your texts in an interpretive universe that helps your readers—who don’t know Chinese culture well—see how the argument fits Chinese culture.

This kind of paper can be a joy to write, at least once you develop familiarity with it.  It is a necessary skill, too, because writing for audiences unfamiliar with your topic is central to academic life.  The source analysis paper encourages you to take the persuasive essay form you learned in junior high school and high school and give it the kind of cultural and historical nuance that we have developed in our class discussions.  You might want to think of your explanations of how the sources “work” as a kind of “thickening” of your argument.  We will discuss this in class, but the key ideas to remember are: sources, audience, argument, and context.

There are two posts in this assignment (the "prompt" and "advice").
Click below for the other section of this assignment:
Writing From Sources A                    Writing From Sources B
[f] Chatty RF

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