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An introduction to essay research: how to find books and articles, search efficiently, evaluate sources, read effectively, take essay notes, structure your essay, and make sense of citation.

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Vasquez Peak Wilderness, by Im Me, Flickr

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Co-Curricular Summaries for SMC 103

As valuable as the time we spend together in class may be, the university experience also provides other avenues for students to acquire academic skills and to indulge the life of the mind. To reflect this fact, students in this class are required to attend and summarize at least one co-curricular event during the academic year (replacing three tutorial meetings in the academic schedule). This summary must be submitted no later than 4 December 2005. Additional events (up to four total, throughout the academic year) may also be summarized for extra-credit in the student’s class participation mark.

What kind of event should I attend?

If you are a first-year student, you are required to attend at least one academic skills workshop sponsored by the Research and Academic Skills Center (RASC) and/or the Mentoring and Academic Peer Programme. Check the RASC website for more details: . If you would prefer to attend an equivalent programme at another Faculty or College, please consult with the instructor beforehand to verify its eligibility.

If you are a second-, third- or fourth-year student, you are required to attend at least one public lecture or other academic event on the University of St. Michael’s College campus – on any topic you choose. Events will be announced in class and are also updated regularly on the USMC events page .

These restrictions apply only to the one required co-curricular summary. Students of any year may attend either RASC workshops or academic events for extra credit.

How do I claim credit for the events I attend?

Students may claim credit in one of two ways:

First, students may submit a 100-150 word summary within two weeks of the event, stating the name, place, date and time of the event, summarising the main argument of the speaker(s) and/or discussing important points raised in the workshop. This may be submitted in print or electronic form. Alternatively, students may live-tweet the event as it takes place, on the Twitter feed for the course (#smc10315). A satisfactory live-tweet consists of: 1) an initial tweet stating the name of the event, place, date and time; 2) no fewer than three subsequent tweets summarising important points raised by the speaker(s). If your Twitter handle does not clearly identify you, please alert the instructor so that you receive credit.

If you live-tweet a lecture, conference or workshop, consider letting the speaker or organiser know what you are doing ahead of time – it might prevent misunderstandings!

Co-Curricular Summaries will not receive letter grades, but will be assessed on √-, √, √+, √++ basis (0 for non-completion)—with a √ indicating adequate or satisfactory completion of the assignment. Each summary submitted for extra credit (up to 4) will qualify for +2% in the class participation portion of the student’s final mark, or +1% if the summary is weak or incomplete.

SMC 188Y Essay Assignment

Write a 7 page paper on an issue of marginalization in Canadian culture. It may involve a historic or contemporary issue and may be related to any populations, institutions and/or ideologies you choose, so long as you demonstrate how marginalization is present. For instance, you could write on Indigenous cultures and residential schools. You could write on prejudice toward one particular race in the social determinants of health. You could write about gender inequality. The LGTBQ community. Mental health. Ageism. Child Abuse. The criminal justice system as discriminatory. Refugee status …

There are endless topics you could choose from. The assignment is to choose an area of injustice that you desire to explore and develop a coherent thesis and argument that suggests why marginalization is present.

(1) The first part of the assignment, due 27 November, is an annotated bibliography and thesis statement (5%).

For your annotated bibliography please include at least 5 sources in the format shown to you by Richard in the workshop on annotated bibliographies. You may include more than five sources, if doing so serves you in any way, but the assignment is to have no less than five. (Note, Richard is going to post his power point presentation in the Library Resources pages on our Blackboard page)

(2) Attach to your bibliography, on a separate sheet, your thesis statement. This statement should be 2-4 sentences in length and should clearly show the topic of your essay and the argument you will develop in the body of your essay.

Your finalized essay is due 5 February (15%)

I suggest that you allow your thesis statement to grow out of the research you do for your annotated bibliography. The steps to follow might be:

  1. Choose your topic

  2. Find sources

  3. Annotated bibliography

  4. Brainstorm notes/ideas in response to your reading

  5. Write your thesis statement

As always, for any concerns/questions about the assignment or the writing process, as Dirk or myself. In early January, we will devote some time in class to essay structure.

SMC217H1 Literature and the Christian Child

Research Essay: The Christian Novel

In this assignment you are asked to choose one of the novels we are studying in the second part of this course (except that by J.K. Rowling), and to examine it as a “Christian novel” for children. This is not simply a descriptive paper; it is an argumentative (or persuasive) essay: you are to make a claim about your chosen novel and prove your claim by means of evidence drawn from the novel, backed up by scholarly, secondary sources.

  1. Select one of the following novels to discuss in detail: The Water Babies; The Princess and the Goblin; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Bridge to Terabithia; The Fire-Eaters

  2. Look for Christian elements in your chosen novel. What ideas about childhood and a child’s moral development can you find? Narrow this down to a specific topic (e.g., innocence, belief, death and life, sacrifice, forgiveness, prayer, reasonableness). Consider how the genre of the novel, and specific literary strategies, interact with your topic.

  3. You should use at least TWO appropriate, scholarly, secondary sources to supplement your own ideas about your chosen novel. These may be specific works of analysis (e.g., on Katherine Paterson’s fiction), or more general theoretical works (e.g., on Christianity and literature). You do not have to agree with the authors, but the relevance of your choice must be clear. (Published remarks, interviews, and essays by the authors themselves on their own work will be very useful, but treat these as supplementary sources in addition to the required peer-reviewed sources.)

  4. Formulate a clear thesis statement (or argument) about your novel, and select the evidence you will use to prove your thesis (or make your argument). Please note:

    • This is not yet a thesis: “In this paper I will analyze the relationship between childhood and Christian sacrifice in David Almond’s The Fire Eaters.”

    • This is better: “In this essay, I will argue that Bobby understands McNulty’s death as a sacrifice like that of Christ—a gift of his life to save the world from destruction.”

    • Provide narrative detail where this is necessary to support your thesis, but make sure to concentrate on analysis and argument over description and narrative.

Length: between 2100 and 2500 words (double-spaced, double-sided, standard fonts and sizes). Please include word count on your title page.

Due: at the beginning of class, April 3rd. This paper is worth 30% of your final grade.

Style: Please use Chicago (footnotes) and give a complete bibliography. (A handy reference can be found here:

Save paper! Please attach the rubric, facing inward.

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