It’s time to start thinking about the final essays. First of all, read carefully the document “How to Write an Essay for this Class.”
This upload link is the place to upload your prospectus. It is ideally due to give you, and your professor, time to work out the details. Just don’t leave the prospectus until the week the essay itself is due, or there won’t be time for dialing-in/refining, and the absence of that process will likely show in the grade. Before you attempt the prospectus, the most important first step is choosing your primary sources and secondary sources. Everything hinges on making good selections here and learning research skills. Come to the Extra Credit Zoom Discussion for more info, and suggestions, and visit office hours asap.
Your primary sources can be already assigned in the course, either the coursepack readings or the assigned books, or they can be on special interest research topics (reach out with brainstorms and for instructor assistance if you want to go this route). Some of the best options from the coursepack for this type of assignment include: Wendell Berry, Inanna or Demeter as agricultural goddesses, Robert Tindall, Lynn White / Michael Northcott, Bynum Walker, Martín Prechtel and Popul Vuh, Emerson, Heidegger, Claxton, Foltz, or Latour. Chapters from the Pollan, Pinchbeck, and Parkes books could also be the basis of an essay. If you choose a coursepack or other assigned reading, the next step is hone in particular topics and themes are raised in that reading with relevance for our course theme: food, farming, the sacred. From this point, you’ll need to do additional research and find secondary sources. These can be authors and texts engaged with in your primary sources, and other relevant research by the same author or other authors on your chosen topics and themes. For example, if you want to a Wendell Berry essay, you can find a PDF of the whole book, or check out his Unsettling of America book, and other articles written about Wendell Berry on farming and religion, etc. Or, if you want to focus on Claxton/ecofeminism, you can then find other articles relevant for food/farming/sacred from an ecofeminist perspectives. Or, if you want to focus Heidegger, you can find other essays on Heidegger relevant to our course themes, and relevant scholarship in the area of Heidegger and environmentalism, etc. Exactly what aspects of your primary sources you will use to spring board into which secondary sources takes some research.
Note: it is also find to develop your initial idea for the essay and prospectus from out of a RR or discussion post you’ve already done, on a reading you’d like to explore in much more detail.
What is the prospectus? The Prospectus is a one to two page document that must include your working title/topic, main thesis, bullet outline of secondary theses and other major points (falling under each category of the analytic essay format, i.e. Introduction, Summary, Interpretation/Critique, and Conclusion), and a Works Cited that clearly identifies your primary sources & secondary (and any tertiary) sources.
See the instruction document for more on recognizing valid primary vs. secondary vs tertiary sources. I am not that concerned with formatting for your prospectus. I’m more concerned that the prospectus show evidence of careful digestion of the “How to…” manual, and is something doable and advisable within the guidelines.
In order to complete the prospectus you need get clearance with your instructor by email or office hours regarding your: a. topic; b. primary and secondary sources. I’m happy to brainstorm the selection process with you as well, but that only works well during office hours (email is too much back and forth). So everyone, do your best to visit office hours re. topic and source selections and getting approval this week or next week at the latest.
Full disclosure Postscript: the requirement that student’s complete a formal essay to fulfill the university-wide GE writing requirements for all HRS classes is a department-level decision from the curriculum review committee. Previously, I assigned 6 RR’s, which I consider semi-formal writing to fulfill this requirement and believed that to be sufficient. In my opinion, more formal essays like the following are best assigned in WI, or Writing Intensive classes. Otherwise, students complain it’s not a WI class so why do they have to do a formal essay. In fact, many classes that are not WI-classes do require formal essays, but it’s usually up to the discretion of the instructor, since there are other ways to fulfill the university-wide writing and analysis guidelines for GE courses. Unfortunately, it’s not up to me this round as I’ve been instructed that a formal essay must be part of the assessment structure. Not ideal, I agree, but let’s try to make the most of it, and write awesome essays and learn a lot anyway.
BOOKS TO USE
Welcome to Food, Farming, and the Sacred. Just a quick announcement here re. required texts. Other than the coursepack (downloadable all at once on my website, or week by week in the module), you’ll need:
1.Berry, Wendell. Bringing it to the Table: Food and Farming. Counterpoint, 2009. ISBN: 9781582435435
2. Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Penguin, 2007. ISBN: 9780143038580
3. Pinchbeck, Daniel. How Soon is Now: A Handbook for Global Change. Penguin Random House, 2018. ISBN:9781786780867.
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Discipline: ffod farming & the sacred