The Final Paper
The final gender autobiography, officially a term paper, represents the culmination of each student's effort to connect the course material to her or his own life. We build toward this final paper throughout the semester with the weekly biographical pieces. (The quizzes and final exam represent the other major means for students to develop and demonstrate their knowledge, with a similar pattern of weekly quizzes [and discussions] leading to the final exam.) Prior to completing the final paper, we have a major intermediate step, the full working draft. Each student will circulate a full working draft to the other members of her or his "paper work group," and each student will write comments on the drafts of other members of the group.
The Steps: From Outline to Full Working Draft to Final Submitted Term Paper ...
- Peers. Each student is assigned to a Paper
Work Group. The members of each paper work group will
provide commentary on each others' efforts in the stages toward
producing the full final papers.
- Outlines. An outline plan for the
gender biography is due about a week before the working draft (see the
class schedule ).
- This outline may take a standard hierarchical list format or it may be a narrative overview (or précis).
- Either way it should be about one page or two long.
- It should state the organizational and thematic principle(s) that will guide the paper.
- It should suggest the main biographical topics, episodes, or themes to be explored.
- It should suggest the kinds of readings that will be connected to the biographical material.
- It should make clear what aspects of the paper the author (i.e. the student) believes need the most attention to finish with a good paper (for example, the organization, connections to readings, or narrowing the focus).
- On the due date, students must submit the outline electronically, and transfer copies to each member of their work groups, either via email or hard copy.
- Initial Draft. A working draft of the full gender biography is due as indicated on the class schedule. Again, students must submit the draft electronically, and transfer copies to each member of their work groups, either via email or hard copy.
- Peer Comments. By the next class after
submitting the full drafts, or as indicated in the class schedule, each
student must write a commentary on the draft biographies prepared
by other members of the work group.
- The commentaries should each be 1-2 pages,
- they should assess how well the paper meets the class goals
for a gender social biography, and
- they should suggest strategies for overcoming the shortcomings identified.
- Again, students must submit the commentaries electronically, and transfer copies to each member of their work groups, either via email or hard copy.
- The commentaries should each be 1-2 pages,
- Length - For your first draft, aim initially for 10 pages, but focus on organization and content rather than length. See below about length of the final paper.
- Organization - Each student is free to use
the organizational principle that seems best suited to the
material and the mode of presentation. Some possibilities include:
- a chronological approach, dividing one's life into periods, probably with the periods defined by stages in the development of one's identity, particularly gender identity;
- a thematic approach, in which the author selects one or two themes that seem particularly important for her or his biography and organizes the history of experiences and developments around that theme (e.g., a continuous conflict with parents over the "right" gender identity, a lifelong sense of failure to be accepted as properly feminine or masculine, or the persistent effects of being seen as beautiful);
- organized around a couple exceptional events that seem to be the turning points in the development of ones gender identity, against which all that preceded and followed is weighed and played out.
- The foregoing are examples; other approaches to organization are acceptable.
- Analytical requirements - like the weekly biographical pieces, the biographical term paper must show how one's own biography is related to the issues and ideas represented in the course material. A good paper (1) should consider a range of course materials, it (2) should not misinterpret any of them, and it (3) should not neglect to consider those that are relevant
- Use of the weekly biographical pieces - a student may use as much or little of the weekly pieces as seems appropriate. On the average, students will find that carefully rewritten versions of material originally in weekly pieces may provide up to about half of the full biography, but some will use less. The final paper must be consistent, coherent, and integrated. Simply stringing together the weekly pieces is not acceptable. The weekly biographical writings aimed to prepare you to write the full gender biography; they are not a substitute for writing it.
- Among its other accomplishments, the biography should give a
clear and accurate analysis of:
- the difference gender has made in the stages of your life leading to the present,
- how gender has affected the way others treated you,
- how gender has influenced your sense of identity,
- how the history of your experiences of gender and your gender identity reflect the social circumstances and expectations to which you have been exposed, and how your experiences and identity represent a challenge to or rejection of the influences around you.
Final Version for Submission ...
- Revising. The final draft of the biography should take into account comments received from peers in the working group and the comments and guidelines from the instructors. We expect students to engage in serious revisions from the first draft. Simply resubmitting the initial draft with minimal further effort is not prudent.
- Length. There is no minimum or maximum page length. Aim initially for 10 pages. The quality of the work is more important than the length. The paper should provide a meaningful gender autobiography that takes into account and properly refers to class materials. If this can be done in fewer than 10 pages, we will consider that an outstanding accomplishment. If it needs more than 10 pages, we will recognize the work that went into it. We will consider a paper too long if, and only if, it is longer than 10 pages only because it was poorly edited and could easily have been significantly shorter without loss of useful content. Similarly, we will judge a paper too short not by counting the pages, but if it is superficial and does not seriously attempt an analytical gender autobiography as we have discussed.
- The final version of the gender social biography is due as shown on the class schedule. Submit two copies.