General Writing Guidelines
1. Copy and paste all of your papers into email. File attachments will not be accepted. Send your essay in an email to Dr. Lund at firstname.lastname@example.org In the "Subject" line of the email put your name, the class, and the number of the essay, as follows:
To: Dr. Norm Lund
Subject: S. Wilson GBT1
2. Place a heading in the top corner of each essay, with your name, the class, the number of the essay, and the date, as follows:
3. Put your title at the top of the paper, in the center of the page. Every essay must have a title. Here are some examples:
a. The Iliad: A Narrative in My Own Words
b. The Greek Ideal in Homer's Odyssey
c. Antigone: Right or Wrong?
d. Aeschylus' Solution to the Cycle of Violence
4. The body of the paper should begin at the left margin and should be in block paragraph form. This means that you will not indent at the beginning of paragraphs, but will instead be sure to hit "enter" twice at the end of your paragraphs so that a line is skipped between paragraphs. Each paragraph should have at least three sentences.
5. The opening paragraph should state the main idea you wish to get across. The middle paragraph(s) should give your arguments and/or evidence. The conclusion should briefly summarize the point(s) which you have attempted to communicate.
6. Extensions on due dates will only be allowed for emergencies such as severe illnesses. Otherwise, late papers will not be accepted.
One of the aims of the Great Books Tutorial is to give you guidance in
analyzing the literature that you are reading. It is hoped that as you
progress through the tutorials, you will show increasing evidence of
analytical skills both in your contribution to class discussions and in your written compositions. A common weakness in GBT essays is a lack of analysis by the students. Below are some ideas gleaned from Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren's How to Read a Book and applied to the GBT.
The readings for the entire first semester - Homer, Aeschylus, and
Sophocles -consist of imaginative literature. Primarily, you are to enjoy
your reading of imaginative literature, and to appreciate its beauty.
However, the more mature mind will be expected to go beyond the mere
enjoyment of the work and begin to analyze it - to break it down into the
parts that make it up in order to better understand the author's meaning.
In reading this literature, remember that the author's intent is not just
to tell you about an experience, but to convey the experience directly by
appealing to your senses and imagination. To evoke experience, the writer
makes heavy use of impression, suggestion, imagery, and implication - all
subtle and indirect devices.
As you read these works of literature, you can begin to analyze by paying
attention to devices the author has used to quicken your imagination, and
by noticing the characters as they develop - their thoughts, feelings,
actions, what they say, their responses to each other and to circumstances. Try to live in each character's world and understand why he does what he does. What truths about life and human nature is the author trying to convey?
It will also help in your analysis of this literature if you have an understanding of the following terms often used in literary criticism to define the devices by which an author communicates directly with your senses and imaginations.
In the later GBT I readings which deal with history, philosophy,
government, and theology - Aristotle, Plutarch, Herodotus, Plato, and
Clement - each author's intent is to communicate knowledge, ideas, and
moral perspective with clarity and precision. Consequently, in reading
these works you will be employing your mind's more intellectual faculties as opposed to having your senses directly affected by what you are reading. In analyzing these readings, look for the ideas that drive the author's thinking. Be sure to follow his train of thought carefully.
Yup. No pain, no gain. Writing is hard because thinking is hard, and most of us have flabby, undisciplined minds. Think about the following things, and then tackle the acquisition of writing skills with the gusto of an athelete in training for the Gold Medal.
1) Writing comes from thinking. The process of writing forces us to come to terms with our understanding of the subject matter we are writing about. We often think we have a clear understanding of something until we are in a position of having to put it into words.
2) Writing can be a means to training the mind to think. As Neil Postman points out, writing fixes our thoughts on paper and gives them a permanency that allows us and our audience to scrutinize our thinking for its organization, rationality, accuracy, coherence, and clarity. In affording the opportunity for examining one's own thinking processes, writing becomes a tool for training the mind to disciplined habits of propositional thought.
3) Refined, precise writing is a practical application of logic and rhetoric to one's understanding of the world of ideas, and gives one the opportunity to make one's own contribution to the great conversation.
There are scads of resources available on the internet for improving writing skills. Many universities have "Writing Centers" and those Writing Centers have online handouts on specific areas of writing -- everything from commas and punctuation to rhetoric to peer review. Below is a list of some links to get you started:
If you think your vocabulary needs work, this looks like a fun site:
To read the oft-referred to Elements of Style by Strunk and White, go to this link:
Please do the following:
1) Read your work aloud. Yes, aloud. You will have the double check of your eyes and ears to pick up mistakes. If you don't like the sound of something, change it.
2) Read the paper aloud to someone else. Ask them to stop you if they hearsomething that doesn't make sense to them, or that sounds awkward.
3) Methodically proceed through this checklist:
Are my facts accurate?
STRUCTURE- Do I have a title that clues the reader in to the focus of my paper?- Does my opening paragraph hook the reader and state main idea?- Do my supporting paragraphs support and give evidence, in clear- flowing order?- Do my closing paragraphs tie together the evidences with the main idea and rephrase the main idea? If you would like further suggestions for paper editing, see some of the links at the bottom of the "But writing is soooo hard. . ." page.
A. Parts of Speech
1. Adjective - a word used to modify a noun or pronoun
2. Article - a, an, the
3. Adverb - a word used to modify a verb, adjective, or another adverb
4. Clause - a group of related words which contains both a verb and its subject:
main clause- can stand alone as a simple sentence, e.g. The Greeks developed democracy.
subordinate clause - cannot stand alone as a sentence, but only as part of a larger sentence, e.g. what the Greeks developed. This clause is a noun clause which can function as the subject of a larger sentence, e.g.: What the Greeks developed was democracy. Other subordinate clauses are adjective clauses, e.g.: The Greeks, who loved philosophy, also developed democracy; and adverb clauses, e.g.: Before other ancient cultures did so, the Greeks developed democracy.
5. Conjunction - a word which connects words, phrases, or clauses:
coordinating conjunctions - connect words, phrases, or clauses of equal rank ("and, or, but, for, either, neither, nor," etc.)
subordinating conjunctions - connect subordinate clauses (see above) with main clauses ("if, although, since, in order that, as, because, unless, after, before, until, when, whenever, where, while, wherever," etc.)
6. Conjunctive adverb - an adverb which connects or relates main clauses and thus forms compound sentences ("however, therefore, thus, nevertheless, hence, then, too, besides, also, so, further, moreover, indeed, still, only, thus, consequently, accordingly," etc.)
7. Gerund - a verb form used as a noun and always ending in "-ing" (cf. participles)
8. Infinitive - a verbal noun; a verb form used chiefly as a noun, less frequently as an adjective or an adverb, and usually made up of "to" plus a verb form (e.g.: "To read is a pleasure")
9. Interjection - an exclamation or simple expression of emotion (e.g.: "Whee!, Wow!, Oh!, Ouch! ")
10. Noun: the name of a person, place, thing, quality, or action (e.g.: "Greeks, Romans, truth, courage, Athens, war, attack")
11. Participle - a verbal adjective; a verb form used as an adjective, and ending in "-ing, -ed, -t, or -en" (e.g.: "running, concealed, burnt, seen")
12. Phrase - a group of related words not having a subject and predicate and functioning as a single part of speech within a sentence, e.g.:
verb phrase - "The Greeks have developed."
prepositional phrase - "The Greeks had a way of their own."
participial phrase - "Hardened though they were, the Greeks excelled in the pursuit of beauty and truth."
gerund phrase - "Developing democracy was one the Greeks greatest contributions to future civilizations."
infinitive phrase - "To live a well-balanced life was a Greek ideal."
13. Predicate - the part of the sentence comprising what is said about the subject, including the verb and its complements and modifiers, e.g.: "The Greeks developed the rule of the people."
14. Preposition - a word used to show the relation of a noun or pronoun to some other word in the sentence (e.g.: "with, in, by, into, to, at, behind, between, over, under, of," etc.)
15. Pronoun - a word used as a substitute for a noun, e.g.:
personal - "I, me, you, he, she, him, her"
interrogative - "who?, which?, what?"
relative - "who, which, that"
demonstrative - "this, that, these, those"
indefinite - "one, any, all, each, either, some, every"
reciprocal - "each other, one another"
reflexive - "myself, yourself, oneself, himself, herself"
possessive - "my, yours, whose, mine, theirs, ours"
16. Sentence - an independent unit of expression consisting of a word, or group of words, which: state, ask, command, request, or exclaim something, and usually containing a subject and predicate. Beginning with a capital letter, a sentence ends with some form of punctuation (a period, question mark, exclamation point, or points of suspension...)
17. Subject - a noun or noun substitute about which something is asserted or asked; the subject usually precedes the predicate (see above) and answers the question Who? or What?
18. Verb - a word or group of words used to assert action or existence; to make a statement; ask a question; or give a command or direction
1. Simple sentence - consists of one main clause (a group of related words which contains both a verb and its subject) and no subordinate clause (see above: "clause"), e.g.: "The Greeks developed democracy."
2. Compound sentence - consists of two or more main clauses and no subordinate clause, e.g.: "The Greeks developed the rule of the people, but they were not the only ancient culture to do so."
3. Complex sentence - consists of one main clause and one or more subordinate clause, e.g.: "The Greeks developed the rule of the people before other ancient cultures."
4. Compound-complex sentence - consists of two or main clauses and one or more subordinate clause, e.g. "The Greeks developed the rule of the people before other ancient cultures, but they were not the only ancient culture to do so."
1. Verb tenses
present tense - "The Greek language survives."
past tense - "The Greek language ruled the world."
future tense - "The Greek language will thrive."
present perfect - "The Greek language has survived."
past perfect - "The Greek language had ruled the world."
future perfect - "The Greek language shall have conquered."
2. Verb moods
indicative mood - states a fact or asks a question
subjunctive mood - expresses a possibility, wish, or desire
imperative mood - expresses a command
3. Verb voices
active voice - the subject performs the action, rather than being acted upon
passive voice - the subject is acted upon, rather than performing the action
1. Subject alone The Greeks developed rule by the people.
2. Adjective and subject The ancient Greeks developed democracy.
3. Adverb before subject Gloriously the Greeks developed democracy.
4. Prepositional phrase Before other ancient cultures, the Greeks developed democracy.
5. Infinitive To rule by common vote was a concept developed by the Greeks.
6. Gerund Ruling by the people was a concept developed by the Greeks.
7. Postponed subjects Above all other cultures it is democracy that was developed by the Greeks.
8. Conjunction But/Moreover/Therefore/ConsequentlyHowever, it was the ancient Greeks who developed rule by the people.
9. Noun clause What the Greeks developed in a unique way was the rule by the people.
10. Verb Developed by the Greeks above all other cultures was the rule of law.