Guiding independent research

This is really a question. I’ve had a couple of independent studies/capstone projects to supervise this fall, and will have a couple more in the spring. It has occurred to me that I would like to assign a book that would help guide students through the research process. The books I’m most familiar with focus more on writing literary essays; I’d like something geared to the humanities a little more generally, and to the “research paper” of 15-20 pages, that might include elements of literature, history, and art history. How to read around a topic and then focus the reading, how to develop research questions, these are more important than details like citation style. Any suggestions?

Thys may wel be rym dogerel

In th’olde dayes of the Teching Kynge,
Who knew best how to manage everythynge,
This land was filled of grading fayerye.
Th’endityng elves, with her compaignye,
Daunced ful ofte on many a scolar’s book,
Esily seen by any that myght look.
This was the olde opinioun, as I rede;
But now the worde is come that elves be dede.
For now the service and utilité
Of Blacke Borde and such futilité
That filleth every classe and every halle
As thikke as leves that in autumn falle,
This maketh that ther ben no fayeryes.

Very bad news from the Chron fora

Not that I’ve ever got the grading fairy to show up, but I always thought the cats frightened them off. I can’t bear to think there just aren’t any. And for such a lousy reason, too.

At least I’m making grading progress on my own.

« Reply #220 on: December 02, 2011, 03:02:46 PM »

Will the grading and final writing fairy come if I take the afternoon off for beta testing a game?

The last known member of that particular species of fairy was throttled to death during a regional assessment committee visit to a formerly pleasant campus. Rumor says that the murderer was a member of SACS.

Steps in grading

1. Assemble papers.
2. Open Windows Media Player; plug in headphones and un-mute the computer.
3. Find new purple pen.
4. See if anyone has added a comment to ADNWG’s end-of-term post.
5. Check to see if anyone else has updated a blog. Consider saving new posts to read during breaks from grading after actually doing some. Read blog entries anyway.
6. Count papers in stack.
7. Check the Chronicle fora, especially the Thread of Grading Despair and Paralysis Analysis, to see who else is grading right now.
8. Eat chocolate.
9. Check current Lexulous game(s).
10. Start music. Read first page of top paper.
11. Worry about unfinished book review.
12. Finish reading first paper.
[13-17: Repeat steps 4-8.]
18. Worry about needing to order ILL books for winter writing project so they’ll show up before the library closes over Christmas, and whether it would be better to do that now or keep grading.
19. Grade more papers.
20. Take longer break: cook and eat a meal, say.
[Repeat steps 4-10; expand 5 into checking out blog links never before clicked on and going into the archives of some previously known blogs.]

The Place: Babylon-5

When it was first on television, Sir John and I watched B-5 regularly, and soon started taping episodes if we couldn’t watch them live. We loved that show. Several years ago, he gave me Season 2 on DVD. We were on vacation at the time of the gift, and although we watched a few of its episodes then, once we were home again we lapsed. For the last couple of years, there’s always been so much on the DVR that we rarely watch anything on DVD.

But over the Thanksgiving break, we broke out B-5 and have been galloping through that second season (I’m hoping to get more for Christmas this year). It’s a great show. Watching a lot of episodes all at once makes clear how carefully planned it all was, and how significant clues were planted early on. You forget that kind of thing when you see one episode a week.

I’m loving it, but there’s one thing about the show that’s really making me crazy, and that’s how . . . chick-flick-ish it is. I can’t think of any better term for it. The human characters are always going on about their feeeeeelings. Every episode, someone says some variation of “Do you want to talk about it?” (“I’m here if you want to talk about it. If you want to talk, I’ll listen. How do you feel about that?”) Tough guys always have a marshmallow interior and have to reveal their vulnerabilities. Dysfunctional family situations can be fixed if a victim of bullying will just tell the bully s/he loves him. People in dysfunctional relationships of any kind regret not telling the other person they loved them before it was too late.

Well, I’m not that much of a chick. I’d like the humans to shut up and kick some alien ass. Or at least conspire and back-stab and mutter about dark political plots, or even dark mystical forebodings, the way G’Kar does. The “aliens” (except for Delenn) are way better about getting on with things instead of emoting.

Maybe it was a nineties thing. Maybe the writers read too many self-help books. Maybe it was an attempt to get female audiences into sci-fi series. Whatever. This female was begging Steven Franklin to grow a pair and tell his dad to fuck off instead of longing for his approval. Acting like a victim is the perfect way to get a bully to keep bullying you. With some people, using your words just doesn’t work.

I guess there’s a reason sci-fi and fantasy are shelved together.