Archive for May, 2015

Two Templates for Introducing an Ongoing Debate

May 27, 2015

From Graff and Birkenstein (2006). I came across these in a workshop today; these are really helpful framing templates you can try to work into your literature reviews!

  1. In discussions of X, one controversial issue has been _____. On the one hand, _____ argues that _____. On the other hand, _____ contends that _____. Others even maintain that _____. My own view is that _____…
  2. When it comes to the topic of X, most of us will readily agree that _____. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of ____. Whereas some are convinced that _____, others maintain that _____.

Let’s say we were interested in understanding the causes of poverty. Students often say they’re interested in investigating the causes of X, Y, or Z—but a quick glance at the literature ought to show that there is usually a good bit of disagreement about the causes of anything that has attracted a great deal of interest. So the first step in doing a decent literature review ought to be a summary of this disagreement, with an eye to showing how your research might contribute to the resolution of (at least some aspects of) this debate. So you might begin by writing something like this (summarising some discussion in Porter 2016):

In discussions of poverty, one controversial issue has to do with its origins. On the one hand, left-leaning scholars have emphasised the role of structural factors beyond the control of individuals — the loss of good jobs for less educated workers due to globalisation; the problems that poor children face because of the lack of resources in an educational system stratified by race and class, to say nothing of the added impact of their parents’ general lack of resources; discrimination; and the insidious impact of the ‘prison-industrial complex’. On the other hand, right-leaning scholars have emphasised the responsibility of the poor themselves for their predicament, focusing on the consequences of their own bad choices, as well as the character-eroding effects of government welfare policies. Others even maintain that the poor are poor because they lack the intelligence to succeed in a labour market that increasingly rewards brainpower. My own view is that ______…

Other promising goodies in Graff and Birkenstein (ibid.):

  • Four Templates for Critical Thinking
  • Three Templates for Disagreeing
  • Two Templates for Agreeing
  • Two Templates for Agreeing and DIsagreeing Simultaneously

The last three might be particularly useful templates to look at in conjunction with Booth, Colomb, and Williams’ (2008) methods of ‘creative agreement’ and ‘creative disagreement’. And here are some great tips for finding sources—I particularly like the tips for ‘snowballing’ backwards and forwards. (These are actually intended for graduate students, but there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to a higher level of scholarship!)

REFERENCES

Booth, Wayne, Gregory Colomb, & Joseph M. Williams. 2008. The Craft of Research, 3rd Ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Graff, Gerald, and Birkenstein, Cathy. 2006. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W.W. Norton& Company.

Porter, Eduardo. 2016. ‘Finding Common Political Ground on Poverty’. New York Times. Retrieved 12 February 2016 (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/03/business/finding-common-political-ground-on-poverty.html?_r=0).

For Friday, 5/22 (AMSR)

May 22, 2015
  1. A hard copy of the final exam is due in class tomorrow by the end of the exam period (8:30am – 10:30am).
  2. You must also submit an electronic version on Blackboard corresponding to the exact same hard copy. The subfolder for electronic submission is titled ‘Final Exam’ in Blackboard, in the ‘Content’ folder.

The exam period starts at 8:30, but you may turn in your paper (in person) any time before the end of the exam period. I intend to extend my current record-breaking streak of punctual arrivals to three, but the rest of you won’t need to break a sweat in similar fashion: all you’ve got to do is roll in at some point, go over the final with me briefly to ensure that basic requirements have been met (including careful editing/proofreading), and then you’re done. See you tomorrow.

Lost Musings (Berlin: Capital of the Twenty-First Century)

May 19, 2015

*This is something I’d written back in 2012 but somehow lost track of until tonight. I thought it was worth resurrecting because I realized that I still don’t have much of a sense of how many different art scenes there are in my spiritual Heimatstadt—and this seems like an interesting question on which to follow up.

***

New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman recently published a thoughtful piece comparing SoHo in its artistic heyday to contemporary Berlin.  On the other hand, and not to put too fine a point on it, Kimmelman compares 1970s SoHo–one neighborhood within this Big Apple of ours–to contemporary Berlin.  So it’s not surprising that he is ‘struck’ by ‘one obvious difference’ between the two scenes:

SoHo then was a genuine community, a world within the art world, nested inside the larger world of the city. Berlin, for all its glories and advantages, has become, in terms of art, a pit stop on the global caravan. For better and worse, its cultural circles are in large part made up of transients who don’t necessarily speak the language and who live on top of the city. They’re there for the cheap rents, studio space, parties and one another.

Without denying that Kimmelman has a very good point, it nevertheless seems to me that there’s a real lack of precision here.  Why not compare ‘SoHo then’ to one of Berlin’s arts clusters in, say, Friedrichshain, or Mitte, or Kreuzberg–especially if there are big differences among Berlin’s different scenes?  So what if there isn’t a ‘genuine community’ that unites all of Berlin’s art world?  It’s much more likely that one would find such community at the level of the neighborhood, or Kiez.

For Tuesday, 5/19 (DEV)

May 18, 2015
Please remember that the exam is due by the end of our scheduled exam period, which is 4:00-6:00pm tomorrow. Make sure you have looked at the instructions carefully (they have been revised since the start of the semester when I first showed you the exam, so make sure you’re looking at the most recent version, which I’ve attached to the accompanying Blackboard announcement!). Note that I’ll be checking that you’ve addressed grammar and other mechanical mistakes identified in the midterm. I’m really hoping for a lot of improvement, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any final questions.
 
Odds and Ends
  • The mail room is in North Hall 3233, I believe, if you are looking to drop your paper off early (if that’s not the right room number, you can simply ask someone in the main office, which is also on the third floor of North Hall). But don’t exceed the word count! I won’t grade papers that exceed the word count, or that fail to print a word count on the front page.
  • Double-check Bb in order to make sure that you’ve gotten credit for all the assignments; let me know if you see any discrepancies. If you never handed in the Annotated Bibliography assignment, you can still do so–but do not attach it to the final!
  • If you somehow missed my multiple references to it in class, here is the key to my grading comments.

That’s about everything. Godspeed and best of luck!

For Monday, 5/18 (METH)

May 17, 2015
Please remember that the exam is due by the end of our scheduled exam period, which is 4:00-6:00pm tomorrow. Make sure you have looked at the instructions carefully (they have been revised since the start of the semester when I first showed you the exam, so make sure you’re looking at the most recent version, which I’ve attached to the accompanying Blackboard announcement!). Note that I’ll be checking that you’ve addressed grammar and other mechanical mistakes identified in the midterm. I’m really hoping for a lot of improvement, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any final questions.
Odds and Ends
  • The mail room is in North Hall 3233, I believe, if you are looking to drop your paper off early (if that’s not the right room number, you can simply ask someone in the main office, which is also on the third floor of North Hall.
  • Double-check Bb in order to make sure that you’ve gotten credit for all the assignments; let me know if you see any discrepancies. If you never handed in the Annotated Bibliography assignment, you can still do so–but do not attach it to the final!
  • If you somehow missed my multiple references to it in class, here is the key to my grading comments.

That’s about everything. Godspeed and best of luck!

For Thursday, 5/14 (DEV)

May 12, 2015
  1. Alexander Liazos, ‘The Poverty of Sociology: Nuts, Sluts, and Preverts’* (skim)
  2. Erich Goode, ‘Is the Sociology of Deviance Still Relevant?’, The American Sociologist 35, No. 4 (Winter 2004)*

Where would you have placed the Hebdige book in our sequence of readings? Where do you think it belongs in the syllabus? That’s the question I was trying to get to last time, so I’ll lead off with that question. Think about it. Write a note to yourself, if that will help you remember when I call on you. (If you’re wondering why I’m asking that question, we can talk about that as well. But it connects to our readings for today, as you’ll see.)

For Wednesday, 5/13 (METH)

May 11, 2015
  1. Booth et al., ‘Revising Style: Telling Your Story Clearly’ (Ch. 17). Bring a hard copy of your current draft to class. We’ll partner up and help each other revise, starting with the framing-points and paraphrase exercises (Booth, Colomb, and Williams 2008: Section14.2, p. 204-5; Section 14.6, p. 210), and I’ll come around to help troubleshoot.

REFERENCES

Booth, Wayne, Gregory Colomb, & Joseph M. Williams. 2008. The Craft of Research, 3rd Ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

For Friday, 8/15 (AMSR)

May 8, 2015
  1. Causation, a.k.a. Internal Validity: I believe we’ve still got some important details to go over here.
  2. Chambliss and Schutt, Chapter 3
  3. American Sociological Association Code of Ethics
  4. http://www.lehman.edu/provost/irb/ read “Submitting Your Proposal” and “Forms” and browse the other sections on this page. In particular, the “CUNY Principal Investigators Manual” provides a good overview. The guidelines for consent forms will be useful for your proposal.

By the way, here’s a segment from The Brian Lehrer Show on that Facebook mood-manipulation study I was telling you about.

For Tuesday, 5/12 (DEV)

May 7, 2015
  1. Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style, esp. The Function of Subculture’ (pp. 73-80), and ‘Two Forms of Incorporation’ (pp. 92-99). We will be going over these sections with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, so be prepared to be called on.

I’ll just bring the remaining research papers to class tomorrow. All the grades are now up (except for one or two that will be up shortly); please check the Bb comments section for general remarks on your papers.

For Monday, 5/11 (METH)

May 6, 2015
  1. Booth et al., ‘Revising Your Organization and Argument’ (Ch. 14). Today we’re going to take Booth et al.’s advice and start thinking about how to revise our proposals from the top down. Remember the three key framing points they emphasize: your reader must recognize ‘instantly and unambiguously’
    • where your introduction stops
    • where your conclusion begins
    • what sentence in one or both states your main point (verbatim from Booth et al. 2008:204).

The different sections of your proposal should be clearly marked off with headings, so the first two points shouldn’t be so hard to emphasize; but think about it for a second: is everything in, for example, the last section really devoted to concluding comments (hint: no)? There’s still work to be done here, although I intend to spend a good deal of time walking you through the final exam, using the example of the Baltimore riots again.

REFERENCES

Booth, Wayne, Gregory Colomb, & Joseph M. Williams. 2008. The Craft of Research, 3rd Ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.