Essay 1 results

A few thoughts on common issues:

  • Comparisons to the present are a distraction, at best, and can completely derail a paper. This isn’t a long assignment, where you can wander around thinking deep thoughts: this is a short essay which has to be focused on the document itself and what it means in context.
  • I know my handwriting can be challenging: if you have any questions about what I’ve written, please ask.
  • There are only a few editorial marks I’ll make on most papers:
    • I’ll circle spelling and grammatical/punctuation errors
    • I’ll put a wavy line under words that I think don’t fit well, or mean something else
    • I’ll underline things about which I have questions, and often put those questions in the margin
    • If I put a question mark or ≈ (wavy “almost equals” sign), it means that I’m not sure about your evidence or argument. Exclamation points are for surprising or funny things (laughing with, not at). Check marks are a way for me to mark and find theses, good evidence, etc.; they’re good, but not very meaningful for you.
  • Most of my real comments are on the separate rubric page. I try to make suggestions which will help you on future essays rather than writing revision notes for this essay.
  • The basic topics and questions listed in the assignment handout are starting places, tools to move you towards interesting topics and questions worth further consideration. They don’t give you a thesis, nor are they a terribly good structure for a paper.
  • I don’t adjust grades on essays the way that I do on tests. Rather, I use a fairly objective standard based on the rubric — thesis, evidence, context, etc. — so you have a clear sense of what a grade really means.
    • An “A” grade is an excellent piece of work, thoughtful, careful, and very well-supported;
    • a “B” grade is a solid effort, with a clear thesis, substantial evidence, and fairly convincing;
    • a “C” grade is adequate, with most of the elements in place but not very clear or convincing, or maybe one major element missing
    • a “D” grade indicates a substantial failure to provide the elements of a good paper — thesis, evidence, historical background.
    • an “F” means nothing went right.