Modern Political Theory, POL-445, Bruce Nesmith
Justin had three WC conferences: one to brainstorm, the second to look over a draft, and the third to look at the final draft and answer questions about the course.
A brief description of the assignment is "to compare the ideas two of the philosophers we study this semester on one of the following subjects: Government, State of Nature, The Social Contract, Democracy, Sovereignty, Property, Freedom, or some other topic."
Justin chose to write about sovereignty because the American Presidency class he is taking at the same time uses a lot of literature that would be good sources for this paper.
In the first conference, Justin had a good idea of what he wanted to do with his paper and he explained those idea to me. I think it helped him organize his thoughts, especially in the first two conferences. He told me that just telling me his plans helped him focus on the writing process.
I asked him if there was any insider knowledge he could give to other students talking this course in the future:
"Insider knowledge...It's all about organization and simplicity. Need to state your interests in the introduction: especially when you [are going to] talk about and when... restate this in your conclusion (I thought this was just a think we were taught in high school, but also no. They still like it when you so it here too... As a matter of fact, I now realize that the paper that I read for other students are much more comprehensive if they reiterate their purpose in the intro and the conclusion. Other that that, focus on the content and try not to be too formal in phrasing...more formal speaking voice is best, I think."
I asked him how consultants can best serve political theory writers: What do they need to do to be effective in conferencing you?
"Focus on the content. I'm not sure how
much grammar counts in this paper (but the prof does
check for it just to see if you have any writing knowledge,
if there are a lot f mistakes it make a paper harder
to read, obviously). Make sure the organization of the
paper follows some set or pattern of thought, perhaps
one that they discussed in class, or maybe something
as simple as chronology. I found that it helped to set
aside the different sections of a longer paper as such
with subtitle headings (ex: Introduction, Right to Revolution,
Current Ideas, Conclusion...). Not only does this help
the writer, but it makes it easier for the reader to
remember the flow of ht paper that was presented first
in the introductory part. Also, if you make up talk
of the actually theory behind your ideas and conclusions
it might bring out something les that might be profitable
and beneficial to include in our paper...more clarification
Assignment Description for POL-445: Modern Political Theory
Term Paper Assignment
Length: 12-15 pages
During this semester we will be reading a variety of political philosophers. This paper will enable you to go more deeply into their writing, and to compare philosophies on the same topic.
You assignment is to compare the ideas of two of the philosophers we study this semesters on one of the following subjects. (Alternatively, you may analyze one of the philosophers we're not studying, such as John Calvin, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Mary Woolstonecraft, Alexis de Tocqueville, Jeremy Bentham or G.W.F. Hegel.)
For the main part of your paper, explain the writer's view's on one of the following issues:
In researching you paper you should use the texts themselves, books on the specific writer or text, and commentaries on the texts. Two valuable general commentaries are Sabine's History of Political Theory and Strauss and Crospey's History of Political Philosophy. Wootton includes suggestions for further readings in his introductory essays. Compare the interpretations of the commentators, highlighting one or more points of difference.
In conclusion, considering the different texts and interpretations you have examined, what difference does the issue make for contemporary politics?
The final version of your paper is due during the final exam period, at which time you will make a brief presentation to the class. However, given the importance of the paper to the final grade, you are will-advised to consult with me throughout the semester as you gather materials and begin writing, and to submit at least on complete draft in advance. To this end, I have set aside two days for paper conferences:
The remaining 80 percent of the paper grade will be based on your ability to:
As always, research papers should be carefully
documented. Be sure to cite sources for all your information,
whether or not you quote them. Rather than foot- or end-notes,
use in-text citations with only author and page number: ...try
to avoid a Republican filibuster (Lewis A1).
Bloom, Allan. The Republic of Plato. New York: Basic Books, 1968.
O'Donnell, James J. "Augustine: Christianity and Society." 1985. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/twayne/aug3.html (10 Jan. 2001). [Note: The last item is the date of your access.]
Plato. Platonis Opera. Ed. John Burnet. Oxford: Clarendon, 1979-82.
Segal, Charles. "'The Myth was Saved': Reflections on Homer and the Mythology of Plato's Republic." Hermes 106 (1978): 315-336.
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E-mail Dr. Bob Marrs with any questions, comments or suggestions.