You will write three short analytical papers for this course (the first is due on October 4th). Each paper will be on a specific set of readings. For instance, the first paper will derive from the early readings on the political theorists. Each paper must show not only a solid understanding of the readings but also exhibit an ability to see analytical connections between ideas, concepts, and thinkers. Ideally, the papers will also show a facility for seeing relationships between the readings and contemporary events and ideas. The following are possible paper topics for the first set of readings:
Comparison of the ideas of Plato and Aristotle on democracy and the potential for human beings to rule themselves.
Examination of Platoâ€™s ideas on democracy and their application to todayâ€™s American democracy or democracies around the world.
Analysis of Hobbesâ€™ views on human nature and the need for strong monarchical rule and comparison to modern day domestic or world politics.
Critique of Rousseauâ€™s ideas of government and an assessment of their applicability today.
These are only a few of the many possible topics for the first paper. Notice that you may pick only one theorist to address, although you may want to compare two or more of them. (Similarly, your second and third paper will focus on chapters in our text. You may choose one particular chapter on which to focus or, where applicable, discuss more than one chapter.) However many theorists (or, later, chapters) you choose, it should be clear from the paper that you have not only read the texts carefully, but have spent significant time considering the subtlety and sophistication of the ideas. Although an analyticalâ€”rather than a researchâ€”paper, the expectations for the paper in terms of form and substance are nonetheless high. See the opposite side of this sheet for a discussion of â€œstandardsâ€ expected for papers.
Each paper should be roughly 6 pages in length, double-spaced. (No egregious font/spacing manipulations, please.) You do not need to consult any sources outside of our class readings. However, if you do quote or reference our class readings, provide a citation so I know to what source you are referring. Naturally, if you use sources outside of our class readings, you MUST provide citations. Otherwise, plagiarism will be a potential problem (see below for more on plagiarism).
When you cite particular sources, you should follow the APSA style, i.e., in-text citations with a bibliography for all sources used or consulted. See the following link on Towsonâ€™s website for guidance: http://cooklibrary.towson.edu/help-guides/apsa-citation-style-guide.
NOTE: PLAGIARISM WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. YOU WILL FAIL THE COURSE IF DISCOVERED ENGAGING IN PLAGIARISM. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL WITH YOUR QUOTES, PARAPHRASES, REFERENCES, AND USE OF OTHERSâ€™ RESEARCH. IF IN DOUBT, PROVIDE A CITATION. FOR MORE SEE: http://cooklibrary.towson.edu/avoidingPlagiarism.cfm.
STANDARDS FOR AN UPPER LEVEL UNIVERSITY PAPERâˆ—
The thesis, or argument, of the paper should be clearly articulated at the outset. The reader should not have to hunt for the purpose or thesis of the paper. Furthermore, the thesis should be measured in tone, not claiming more than is delivered in the paper. Avoid exaggeration and overstatement.
Substantiation or Evidence
The paper should be well-grounded in the scholarly literature. Key facts, dates, chronologies, and relationships should be correct. Major arguments should be fully referenced and footnoted; put another way, students should avoid simply asserting a point rather than proving or substantiating it. The paper should reflect a strong and broad knowledge of the books, authors, and debates relevant to oneâ€™s subject matter. This means that the paper should not come wholly from several books or articles but, rather, should reflect an immersion in the literature. Furthermore, the paper should be judicious in considering multiple perspectives on a question and should avoid citing and referencing only those sources which support your perspective or thesis.
The paper should be largely free of faulty reasoning. Students should avoid logical fallacies such as hasty generalization, confusion of cause and effect, the appeal to authority, and post hoc ergo propter hoc (â€œafter this, therefore, because of this), among others. Moreover, the paper should display analytical rigor. This means that it should recognize important relationships and interconnections and find the deeper meaning in facts, observations, and narratives.
Organization and Structure
The paper should be well-organized and clearly structured. The objectives of the paper should be stated early on in the paper. Moreover, the paper should follow a logical, transitional structure, with each section and each paragraph fitting together clearly and logically. To better achieve strict organization, a paper may be broken up into sections and sub-sections. Finally, the paper should not end abruptly but should provide adequate summation and plumbing of the implications of the paper and the research.
Citations should be provided always when words, phrases or ideas in the paper are not your own or are not common knowledge. Err on the side of caution and provide citations when you are in doubt. Further, be consistent with your citations and make sure that the reader has all of the necessary information to easily check your sources. Although no specific citation method is required, footnote style (as opposed to endnote and parenthetical) is preferred.
The paper should be free of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and typographical errors. This means that the paper must be finished several days before the due date because only with adequate time for proofreading will a paper be compositionally sound.