You will keep a record of your reading, observations, questions, and commentary throughout the course, generating approximately 30 pages of double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point, one-inch-margined text for the semester. Your primary task is this: regular and sustained research, reflection, and writing on any aspects of the course materials that interest you. You do not have to discuss every concept or every figure mentioned in our readings and discussions, but you should discuss many of them. And you should always do so in your own words (see the note below regarding plagiarism). At a minimum, your course encyclopedia should include the following:
- Definitions of key terms mentioned in our readings and discussions (e.g., ethics, identity, language, signification, the unconscious, jouissance, etc.). Your definitions should be anchored in primary sources (e.g., assigned readings) as well as secondary sources (e.g. reputable dictionaries, online encyclopedias, published scholarship, and the like, several useful examples of which are posted on iLearn). And you should always cite your sources, ideally using footnotes, in keeping the Chicago Manual of Style: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citation…. In addition to defining key terms, you should illustrate them with brief yet concrete examples of communicative action (e.g., recent moments in political culture, illustrative film sequences, lyrics from songs you like, ordinary social interactions you’ve witnessed, curious moments in celebrity culture, etc.).
- Biographies of key figures mentioned in our readings and class discussions (e.g., Aristotle, Descartes, Bentham, Heidegger, Lacan, Deleuze, Haraway, etc.). Again, be sure to cite your secondary sources, and again please follow the Chicago Manual of Style.
- Summaries of key arguments, basic attitudes, and/or central issues in our discussions and readings. You are also strongly encouraged to record and comment on intersections you see between the concepts and figures we are discussing in class and the ordinary, everyday phenomena you encounter in your daily lives.
Below are a few more tips on how to proceed:
- Your encyclopedia should not simply regurgitate materials from lectures and class discussions. Instead, it should build on these materials, using them as foundations, scaffoldings, launch pads, springboards, etc. for new inquiries of your own—inquiries that stretch course materials in new directions, extending them into new terrains of social, political, and intellectual life that interest you. (See, for instance, the sample course encyclopedias posted on iLearn.)
- You may use one writing style or multiple styles. And you can organize your encyclopedia several different ways: by date, by text, or even by category, dividing the entire project into several basic headings (e.g., Concepts, Figures, Arguments). However you decide to proceed, remember that the point of this semester-long assignment is to strengthen your ability to understand and articulate central concepts, figures, and events. (Again, take a look at the sample course encyclopedias posted on iLearn for examples.)
- Stay on top of your course encyclopedia, updating it at least twice per week.
Finally, here is a simple, non-totalizing grading rubric, just to give you a sense of how your course encyclopedias will be evaluated:
- “A” quality = many strong entries and conceptual syntheses across course content + many high-quality scholarly secondary sources to support your arguments (e.g., articles published in peer-reviewed journals, books published by university presses, and the like) + at least one new and profound insight on each page.
- “B” quality = most but not all of the features mentioned above
- “C” quality = your personal reflections + Wikipedia + a few new insights
- “D” quality = typed-up class notes + a few reflections + mostly shallow insights
- “F” quality = typed-up class notes
Communication and Social Process Encyclopedia
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