My First Paper

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I turned in my first paper of my post-grad career today. I’ve been deeply immersed in it for the last couple of weeks, and have learned a great deal. The education has come not only from wrestling with the content, though, but also from wrestling with writing an academic paper, which is a very different kind of writing for me. It’s funny, though, that whatever I know about writing I really have learned from writing songs. My undergrad studies were fine in an undergrad sort of way, but I wouldn’t call it serious academics, looking back now.

The assignment was challenging in two unexpected ways. The first is that it was quite general, and the professor explicitly left it to us to narrow down. The second reason, ironically, was that it was short. We were asked to keep the word count to 2000, with a 10% margin of error. That’s actually not a lot of space to take on a meaningful subject, and it was challenging to trim away enough of what I wanted to say to fit that parameter, while still getting a coherent point across.

The delightful thing about Dr. Bleiker is that he is a fine writer and is passionate about writing. If you’ve had much to do with academia, you may agree with me (and Dr. Bleiker) that it is populated by very bright people who write terribly. It’s a real treat to have a professor who encourages us not only to write clearly and with well-organized structure, but also to consider the question of voice, and to write humanly.

I considered posting it here, but in the end decided that it might be best not to before it has even received a grade. Besides that, it’s hard to imagine that there are many people who are so hard up for procrastination aids that they need to read an academic paper. I titled it “Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Ethical Quandaries in the Application of Cultural Boycotts,” referring to the 1985 Aretha Franklin song.

The assignment was:

It can be argued that the moral significance of boundaries is the key problem in articulating an ethics of international politics. Examine the role of these boundaries, and the respective political consequences, by comparing and contrasting at least two different ethical traditions we have discussed in class.

Anyway, glad to be done with it. Now for the next four papers that I need to be working on simultaneously… (!)

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5 Comments on “My First Paper”

  1. teri Says:

    Well, I may be a dork or a champion procrastinator, but that sounds like an interesting read. I hope you’lll post it eventually, especially since it’s not long. I’ve written sermons longer than that. Granted, they were mostly bad (and I now average 12-1500), but still. 🙂

    congrats on such a milestone!

  2. Eric Bannan Says:

    Indeed – please post the paper.

    Eric


  3. Yeah, I find it hard to do papers when the topic is general, too. I MUCH prefer clear directions!

    On the other hand, I’ve had some fun with “wide open” tasks in the past. I remember writing “Get Smart” and “Back to the Future” stories for class assignments when given such freedom. Still….

    And, to your point about academia being populated by bright people who write terribly, I’ve often been amused/frustrated (yes, both at once) by that reality in my job working with professors as their assistant.

    Best wishes on the next four!

  4. Angela Cooke Says:

    It’s fun to see you living in my world, my friend. I know that you will use the unique and poetic social voice you have always had to find an extraordinary academic voice. We can send eachother warm thoughts as you work on your three papers and I finish up three research projects.

    By the way, I’ve met someone and we are both falling fast for one another. So, send up some warm thoughts for that too and hold us in the light, okay?

    Love you!
    A

  5. Mikaela Says:

    Wow… I’m really struggling with my 2000 word undergraduate essays, and the questions are a lot more straight forward! The thing I hate the most is the word limit – My history question is on traditional oral folk tales and their translation into children’s literature, and I would have loved to extend that into traditional folk song, and storytelling within that, but alas, I have not the words. 😦
    We were talking about boundaries and borders in my European History tute last week, and the cultural and political ramifications that they had on the idea of a ‘Nation’, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and I can only imagine how much more convoluted and complicated those ideas must have become in today’s global, and yet paradoxically also quite local, world.
    I am also becoming a champion procrastinator, and as you should know, if you wish to finely hone your skill, you should practice more. So post that essay!


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