Essay Topics for CPHL 550 – Knowledge, Truth and Belief “Plan your work, work your plan”. – Vince Lombardi General Instructions Make sure to consult the Basic Style Guidelines Document and the Tips for Writing an Effective CPHL 550 Essay Document in order to confirm the details for each assignment (both the minor and the major essay) especially with respect to the minimal length requirement. Since there is no final exam in this course, your essay assignments need to be treated with the same attention and effort (or perhaps even more attention and effort) that you would give to an in-class final exam. It takes research, planning, contemplation and above all an adequate amount of time in order to make sure that you have the opportunity to fully engage in these activities before the writing process itself begins. Please bear in mind that your essay marks combined represent 70% of your total course mark, my advice (in advance) is for all students to proportion their effort accordingly in this regard. Make sure that you begin by consulting (or reviewing if we already covered the material previously) the relevant module (both the lecture and readings) before writing on a particular topic. You may consult other readings on the issue (preferably academic journal articles, or scholarly works) but keep your noncourse sources to a minimum (see the basic style requirements document on this). When I say “in your own words” or “sketch out in detail” what I mean by these expressions is that I want you to explain something to a reader rather than blindly quoting an article or reproducing the class notes. Read the relevant material, work out in your own mind what the author is trying to say or convey or argue for, and present that material to your reader as if you had to explain or summarize something for a classmate who hasn’t taken this course (presuming that they are unfamiliar with this material). The more you work to understand what an author is saying (or attempting to argue for) the better prepared you are to explain this material to your reader (for their benefit). A. For the minor essay, one of the following topics below must be chosen as the subject of your essay. B. For the major essay, one of the topics below can be chosen provided that you have not written on this subject for your minor essay, or you can choose your own topic provided that the following conditions are satisfied: 1. You clear the topic with your instructor in advance (absolutely no later than 10 days before the major essay assignment deadline) in writing and receive written approval (e-mail or Blackboard message) for your chosen topic. Appeals that begin with “I’ve already started
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researching/writing my essay” will not change my evaluation of your topic proposal so “jumping the gun on this issue” comes with a risk. 2. The subject matter of your essay must be, to a reasonable extent, scholarly in nature, related to the material covered in this course, and focused on a particular concept or idea covered in this course. If an essay topic (or your essay question – see below) sounds too casual, chances are it is. For example, please don’t ask me to approve an essay topic such as whether Spiderman’s “spidey sense” (a fictitious example of precognitive awareness) qualifies as a form of knowledge. 3. Your topic proposal must be sufficiently detailed (see the essay questions below) in such a way as to concisely indicate what the structure of your essay will look like. To be sure that your proposal conveys this information, send me your own essay question (again, see the examples below) and I’ll use this as my guide to evaluate your proposal. 4. If your proposed essay question is not topically relevant (see point 2 above), or sufficiently detailed (see point 3 above), you may get a brief explanation from me suggesting what is at issue here or even a quick suggestion on how your topic could be improved, but please don’t expect a detailed multi-page...
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