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Analyzing Writing Assignments Across the Disciplines (pt. 3)

Assignment Summary

Assignment Part 1, Part 2 (Group Worksheet)

Papers for Presentation: Topics

MUSIC 101: Introduction to Music
Concert Report

This course should train your ears and minds for critical listening and thinking. Writing a concert report will allow you to practice these skills. You need to attend two musical events--one classical and one anything you want. Within three days of the concert, you need to turn in a 1-3 page essay about the experience. The reports should describe the musical and extramusical aspects of the musical event.

Pay attention to the performance space and participant behaviors. What was the interaction between the audience and the performers? Did audiences participate? Were there program notes? If so, were they helpful? What did you notice about the people in the audience; age, gender, race, class? Did people dress up or dress down for the event? What kind of an experience did you have as a listener? Were you inhibited knowing that this was something you would have to write about? Did you feel connected to other listeners or to the performers? How was this different from listening to a CD? Try and notice as much as you can about the music itself. Think about harmony, rhythm, and dynamics. What struck you as musically interesting? What did you like or dislike and why? How did the music make you feel? If the music physically affected you, what did you feel?

This assignment should be typed and in a polished essay form. It gives you an opportunity to work on developing your own writing style with respect to music. Use a writing voice that you are already comfortable with, and think carefully about how you will describe a musical event in written language. The questions I have proposed are guidelines, not mandates.


Great Archaeological Discoveries Book Report

The assignment in brief: You select a novel set in an ancient time, read it, then research the time period using scholarly references. Your paper consists of a plot summary, documented instances where the author has used specific archaeological discoveries correctly in the course of the novel, and instances where the novel either makes mistakes or takes a position on an interpretive question on which the archaeological record is equivocal. One example of a mistake would be "knights" from King Arthur's time (ca. 400 AD) riding with stirrups (stirrups had not yet been invented). An equivocal interpretation might involve an author claiming that Neanderthals has patrilineal kinship systems (nobody knows what kind of kinship system they had). The important point is that you have to explain why something is either correct, wrong, or equivocal by citing the professional archaeological literature on the relevant period. The purpose of this exercise is to give you experience using a research library.

Suggested Titles:
Be aware, a lot of these books are parts of a series by the same author. If you can't find the specific books listed here, look for others by the same author. Also, you don't necessarily need to buy these books. Some are in the school library, many are in public libraries, and, if not, they can be obtained by interlibrary loan.

Paleolithic/Ice Age
Jean Auel: Valley of the Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, Plains of Passage (can't do Clan of the Cave Bear, see below)
Allen, Margaret: The Mammoth Stone
Bjorn Kurten: Dance of the Tiger, Singletusk
Elizabeth M. Thomas: Reindeer Moon, The Animal Wife, & sequels
Joan Wolf: Daughter of Red Deer, The Horsemasters, The Reindeer Hunters & sequels
Richard Herley: The Stone Arrow, The Flint Lord (end of Ice Age in Britain)
W. Sarabande: Beyond the Sea of Ice, The Sacred Stones, Walkers of the Wind, Corridor of Storms, Forbidden Land Thunder in the Sky, & sequels (Ice Age America)
Joan Lambert: Circles of Stone (Stone Age Africa)

Mesolithic/Neolithic Old World
Herley, Richard: The Stone Arrow (Mesolithic Britain)
Mary Mackey: The Year the Horses Came, Horses at the Gate (Neolithic Europe)
Harry Harrison and Leon Stover: Stonehenge (Early Bronze Age Britain)
James Michener: The Source (pick 2 chapters)( Israel/Palestine various periods)
Cecelia Holland: Pillars of the Sky (Stonehenge, Early Bronze Age Britain)

American Prehistory
Piers Anthony: Tatham Mound (Florida pre-Spanish conques)t
W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal: Gear People of the Wolf, & sequels (People of the ...-all periods )
Sue Harrison: Mother Earth, Father Sky; Brother Wind, Mother Earth; My Sister the Moon, Cry of the Wind, Song of the River (stone age Arctic)
Gary Jenning: Aztec, Aztec Autumn (Mexico just before the Conquest)
Daniel Peters: Rising from the Ruins, The Luck of Huemac, Tikal (Mesoamerica)
Linda Lay Schuler: She Who Remembers, Voice of the Eagle, Let the Drum Speak (Southwest USA )
James Alexander Thom: The Children of the First Man (US prehistory)
Charlotte Prentiss: Children of the Ice, People of the Mesa (American prehistory)

Old World Civilizations
Robert Silverberg: Gilgamesh the King (Bronze Age Iraq)
Pauline Gedge: Lady of the Reeds, Child of the Morning, Scroll of Saqqara,House of Illusions, Mirage (Egypt)
Judith Tarr: Lord of the Two Lands, Pillar of Fire, Throne of Isis, King and Goddess Egypt, also White Mare's Daughter (Bronze Age Europe), Lady of Horses (Celts), Household Gods
Allen Drury: A God against the Gods, Return to Thebes (Egypt New Kingdom)
Jacq, Christian: The Son of Light, King of Egypt, The Battle of Kadesh, The Lady of Abu Simbel (series on Ramses II, Egyptian Pharaoh)
Peter Danielson: Children of the Lion & sequels (Israelites)
J. Suzanne Frank: Reflections in the Nile (Egypt), Shadows on the Aegean (Bronze Age Crete), Sunrise on the Mediterranean (Greece?)
Ann Chamberlain Tamar: Israelite monarchy & Canaanites
Mary Renault: Bull from the Sea, The King Must Die, The Last of the Wine (Ancient Greece)
Stephen Pressfield: Gates of Fire (Greeks vs. Persia 5 C. BC)
Morgan Llywellen: The Horse Goddess, Iron Age Ireland (many on same them by this author)
Wilbur Smith: River God, Seventh Scroll
Steven Pressfied: Gates of Fire, Tides of War (Ancient Athens vs. Persians, Sparta)
Margaret George: Memoirs of Cleopatra (Roman Egypt)
Paul Park: The Gospel of Corax (Jesus/Messianic period in Southwest Asia)
? Munn: The Lost Legion (Romans in Asia)
Lindsey Davis: Silver Pigs, Shadows in Bronze, Venus in Copper, Iron Hand of Mars, Last Act in Palmyra (Marcus Falco, Roman Detective, 1st Century AD)
Colleen McCullogh: Grass Crown, First Man in Rome (Roman Republic, 1st-2nd Centuries BC)
Barbara Hambley: Quirinal Hill Affair (mystery in Ancient Rome)
Steven Sailor: Roman Blood, Arms of Nemesis, Catalina's Riddle, Venus Throw, Rubicon, Murder on the Appian Way, House of the Vestals
James Clavell: Shogun (Feudal Japan)

Many of these books are the first of a series; look for others by the same authors.

This list only begins to explore the range of possible novels set in pre- and proto-historic times. If these are not attractive to you, look for others by the same author(s) or find others. If it is not on the list, bring the title and author to me and I will check to verify that it is appropriate. (Don't buy it until I approve it).

Titles that are not allowed (and why): Some of these simply don't have enough archaeological detail; others have been made into films, which makes the assignment too easy:

William Golding's The Inheritors (not enough archaeology)
Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear (too many errors, but her other "Earth's Children" books are OK)
Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead/The Twelfth Warrior (too short, too many errors, made into a film)
Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings (more about sex than about Egypt),
John Darnton's Neandertal (not academic material)
Ernest Gann's The Antagonists -Zealots (Romans at Masada, made into TV Miniseries, Masada)
Robert Graves' I, Claudius; Claudius the God (I hate to take these off the list, because they are such great books, but both were made into a PBS miniseries, I Claudius)
Joseph Bruchac's The Dawn Land (Iroquois vs. Algonkian tribes, not enough archaeology)

Some tips:
Try to ascertain the period in which the novel takes place. You may want to read some background information, Price and Feinman, for example, so that you are aware of the major issues for that period. Take notes while reading the novel. Try to visualize the action. Pay special attention to descriptions of burials, toolmaking, clothing, weapons, houses, symbols, these are often copied from descriptions of real archaeological sites.

Consulting Scholarly References:
Your textbook is a good starting point, but you must consult at least three scholarly references. Burenhult's books (on reserve) are like textbooks, good starting points but superficial. I do not accept websites as scholarly references. Start on this early, maybe even before you start the novel, so that you will spot uses of the archaeological record as you read. Getting an early start will also assure that you donít discover that all the books have been checked out of the library.

Paper Format:
The text of your paper should be at least 10 pages (typed, double-spaced, 12 CPI font, with 1 inch margins). Bibliography and figures are not included in the 10 page count. Write from an outline, such as the one below
I. Plot summary (list author, date, title on the first line of the paper).
II. General description of period, place in which novel is set.
III. Support from the archaeological record
IV. Errors/Differences with the archaeological record

V. References:
Where to look for references: The Melville Library has many general archaeology books on reserve for this class. Primary references include monographs and journal articles, such as those on reserve for the class. Use the resources in the Library's reference. Secondary sources, such as textbooks (i.e. Price and Feinman's Images of the Past, etc.) or websites are not appropriate as references, but they may be a good source for primary sources. If SUNY Stony Brook does not have the reference, request it from the Inter-Library Loan office (they may need several weeks to get it, so plan ahead).

Use formal in-text scientific citation (Author Year: page[s]), for example:
"Neandertals and early modern humans were clearly present in the Levant between 40,000-130,000 BP (Shea 1997: 23-24)." Quotations must appear with quotation marks around them, otherwise it is plagiarism. A full bibliography of the references you cite should appear in alphabetical order at the end of the paper.

: Start early. Inevitably, books will become scarce, library resources crowded, and faculty time less and less available as the semester goes on. We are happy to help you get started, but not if you wait until the last minute to start your research. You will accumulate a lot of references; to keep track of them, use note cards to systematically record the bibliographic citation for important facts. If you are writing notes and/or the paper on electronic media (i.e., on computer), make regular backup copies of your files (daily ones, if you use the SINC sites). Mechanical problems, such as the predictable end-of-semester computer crashes, will not be acceptable excuses for failure to turn in your paper on time.


COMMUNICATION 212: Media and The Law

There is now a growing body of literature, legal scholarship, and web-resources on lawyers and film. Lawyers and legal issues have never been more prominent in popular culture--film, television, novels--than they are today. Consequently, there is a growing recognition on the part of law teachers and legal scholars that popular culture (in all its forms) deserves attention and scholarly study.

Write a short (3-5 page) paper addressing the following questions:
How do we account for the popularity of lawyer films (and lawyer television dramas)? Is the cultural preoccupation with lawyers (and law) a positive or negative element in contemporary society?

What is your opinion about these questions? Use evidence drawn from library and media sources like those discussed in class to support your position, and don't forget to include examples from film, television, and novels.

The paper should be typed, double spaced, and you must properly cite the sources you draw from.


BIOLOGY 307: Forest Biology

Choose one of the following questions to answer in a short essay:
1. Why are conifers so prevalent in forests of the Pacific Northwest?
2. Why do oak trees form their leaves so much later in the season than do maple trees?

Although one could give a one sentence answer, a good and thorough answer would require one to two pages of text. Try to incorporate information from readings, field trips, and labs, as well as lectures.

Please type answers (double-spaced) and be sure to put your name and lab section (time) on the top. You may use computers in the biology computer lab, room 33 Klamath Hall.

Answers will be graded on thoroughness, logic and organization, and clarity of explanation. It is fine to have other students read your answers and to discuss your ideas, but it is essential that everyone writes his or her own answers! The purpose of the exercise is to help you to learn the material, and that won't happen if you copy someone else's paper.


ECONOMICS 226: The Economics of Depression

Could it happen again?
Former millionaires were reduced to selling apples on street corners to make money. Almost daily, thousands of people lined up in New York's Times Square to wait for a relief package containing a sandwich and a cup of coffee. Millions of Americans lost their life savings when their community banks failed. At the same time severe drought created desolate wastelands of what used to be fertile farmland. These images dominated the years 1929-1939, more commonly known as the Great Depression.
Economists have searched for answers to questions about the Great Depression for decades. What caused the Great Depression? What role did the Federal Reserve and the federal government play in response to the Great Depression? Perhaps most important, and the focus of this essay's topic, could it happen again?
For this assignment, find an image that interests you in the pictures of the Great Depression. Research this aspect of the economy and policies of the late 1920s and 1930s and write an essay that compares the Great Depression with economic conditions of today.

Draft Checklist:
An essay with strong content can lose its effectiveness if filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Use this checklist to ensure a clean and easy-to-read copy:
Thesis clearly presented
Paragraphs well-organized
Effective transitions between paragraphs
Argument follows a logical progression
Strong evidence used to support thesis
Sentence structure
Page numbers
Bibliography and parenthetical references or footnotes follow a consistent style (see a teacher or librarian for a reference guide)
Cover includes required information
First page with title and no name
Copy can be easily read - type is clear and dark

Use footnotes or parenthetical references for all direct quotations and important facts. See your teacher for a guide on how to format your footnotes and bibliography. Be sure to include citations of interviews.


ENGINEERING 337: Acoustics

Choose a particular building type where acoustic performance is important: for example, a multiplex cinema, a concert hall, an open-plan office, housing near an airport, an office near a motorway. Locate Web sites offering PRACTICAL information on measures that can be taken to provide acceptable acoustic conditions within your chosen building type.
Locate a Web site offering PRACTICAL information on measures that can be taken to provide acceptable acoustic conditions within a building - with regard to the external noise climate OR the internal noise climate OR both.
Write a short report (2-3 pages) summarizing the information you obtained, referencing the Web sites where you found useful information. Report the location, and summarize the type of information available on this structure.
(Make sure that you report a location different from your colleagues.)


HISTORY/LITERATURE 335: American Baseball History

Paper II : Richard Crepeau, Baseball: America's Diamond Mind, 1919-1941

Richard Crepeau makes an explicit connection between democracy and the game of baseball. What were the "tests of democracy" that the game underwent from 1919 to 1941? In what ways did the game express the "values of American interwar culture?"
Your essay should be approximately 1000 words (five typewritten pages). Quotation from sources may constitute no more than 10% of your paper. Papers that exceed this limit will receive a failing grade.
The final draft of your essay should be carefully crafted and devoid of spelling errors. Proofread your papers for typographical errors. Remember that pronouns and their antecedents must agree in number and recall how to form the possessive case.
Do not use contractions in a formal essay. Avoid the passive voice ("is," "was," and other forms of the verb "to be"). Watch for convoluted syntax and imprecise or faulty diction (word choice). Strive for the active voice and try to compose sentences that are compact and periodic (subject-verb-object).

Instructor's Comments

genre survey, textual analysis, argument, writing across the disciplines
course WRT 101 and up
activity type small group discussion, class discussion
skills analysis, close reading, oral presentation, essay planning, audience awareness
duration 1 class
see handouts, overhead projector
handouts: Group Worksheet (html, Word file), Papers for Presentation: Topics (html, Word File)
contributor: Emily Clasper