Friday, September 4, 2015

Dear Students - On Phones and Postmodernism

Dear Students:

May I suggest one thing that will help improve essay writing for some of you? It looks like some of you are composing your essays on a phone and then not proofreading what you wrote before submitting it. I suggest you compose your essays on a larger screen, so you can see and proofread what you've written. Some of you wrote essays that were unintelligible.

In a previous announcement, I mentioned the danger in today's thinking of relying on Postmodernist interpretations of texts. One consequence, that I see again and again in student writings, is the tendency to offer opinions about the texts without really understanding the underlying meaning of the text. Often, we jump to conclusions about texts because so much of our history and its interpretation has become politicized, roughly drawn along left and right wing ideologies.

Personally, I don't care which side of the political spectrum you fall on, but you should not let your opinions get in the way of interpreting historical texts.

The first step to analysis is to discover the plain meaning of the text - the writer's intent. Then, with a proper historical context, you can develop an interpretation and start to form your own opinions about what the text means.