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Some thoughts on State of the Issue papers

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I just finished reading your state of the issue papers for reproductive rights. All in all, I enjoyed reading them and think many of you did a great job. As you write your next ones (or, for those of you who didn't write on reproductive rights, your first ones), here are some things to remember:

Purpose of the assignment: 

One key purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of at least three different feminist perspectives on this issue. This means that your three different ways of framing the issue should all be from feminist perspectives. These perspectives do not have to be completely opposed to each other; they just need to offer different perspectives (that sometimes come into conflict with each other). 

Contrary to the official title of this course, "point/counterpoint," I have not set this class up to be about binary oppositions: either/or; for/against; feminist/anti-feminist. Instead, I designed this class to be about disrupting/troubling/complicating the purpose of debate; it is not about winning a battle or coming to a consensus, but about keeping open feminist curiosity. The issues we are examining don't involve two clear, easily definable sides, but a wide range of complicated issues. How is curiosity shut down when we pick sides? What important questions get left unexplored, what voices aren't heard? To that end, I picked readings that try to demonstrate the complexity of the issue within feminism and show that there are no easy (re)solutions to the contentious feminist issues. Your state of the issue papers should demonstrate the complexity of these issues, as opposed to breaking it down into binaries of for/against (or a.for, b. against, and c. in-between).

The emphasis should not be on your opinion, but on demonstrating an understanding of the complexity of the issue for feminists, based on our readings

The different feminist perspectives that you discuss should be taken directly from our readings and films. One other goal of this paper is to demonstrate that you have read and can engage with our course readings, so make sure that your articulation of the different perspectives is based on articles/authors that we read. 

Have a clear introduction and conclusion

In your introduction you should clearly describe what you plan to do in the brief paper and which positions you will discuss. You should also identify the authors/reading that you will be using to represent those different positions/perspectives. In your conclusion you should sum up the issue and offeri your own thoughts on what is to be done.


Feminist Reflection Papers: Some Thoughts

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On Wednesday, you will be breaking up into groups in order to discuss your definitions/reflections on feminism. To prepare, you should do the following:

  1. Bring a tweet-length version of your definition of/reflection on feminism (140 characters or less) to share with your group members. 
  2. Also bring a one paragraph discussion of an example that helps to support and explain your definition. 

I have really enjoyed reading your papers about feminism. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Firstbell hooks is not capitalized. Want to know why? Read this

Second, while I don't expect you to know everything about feminism/s (who could?), you are expected to explain and support the claims that you do make with evidence. Don't make broad and over-generalized claims. Instead, focus on making claims that you can support and explain.

  • Assume your reader hasn't read the articles and doesn't know much about the topic. Make sure to always explain the claims that you are making and the passages you are providing. 
  • Use the readings to help you to develop your points. Your arguments about feminism (or about the various issues) should be taken from and/or directly put into conversation with the readings. 
  • Avoid phrases like: "some people" (unless it is followed by, such as "author x") or "all feminists."

Third, as promised (in class on Wednesday), here's some more information about Using semicolons. Check out this helpful entry by Oatmeal that explains when and how to use semicolons. 

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