SUNY Geneseo Department of Mathematics
Intd 105 20
Prof. Doug Baldwin
Here are some suggestions to help shape your conversations about each others’ draft essays on Enigma and its historical background. In addition to these guidelines, the general ones we used for the warm-up essays are also still useful; so is the guidance on discussing theses and conclusions from the guidelines for the “Gold Bug” essays.
One of the main foci of this essay is gathering and finding evidence from which you can argue for a thesis. Thus, reviewers, one of the key ways you can help authors is by offering guidance on their use of evidence. Most importantly, is each piece of evidence adequately framed, i.e., does the author provide some introduction to it, and present a clear interpretation of it and how it contributes to the argument? Is the evidence itself described clearly, via a summary, paraphrase, or quotation? In places where the author uses quotations, do the quotations add something beyond what a summary or paraphrase would? Does the argument as whole flow logically from point to point?
Documenting sources is also important. So as you read your partner’s essay, check that every fact that the author states is either common knowledge, taken directly from Enigma or class, or attributed to an outside source. Make sure the outside sources are clearly and thoroughly enough identified that you could find them. Also check whether the outside sources seem authoritative for the uses made of them — you won’t be able to tell for sure, but you can check such things as whether the source seems scholarly or popular or merely someone's personal statement, whether you recognize the publisher or author as someone with a reputation for producing reliable material, etc.
To organize your feedback to authors (or at least much of it), try to make a table or simple outline of the evidence used in the essay as you read it. For each main piece of evidence, jot down a sentence or even a few words about what the evidence says, another sentence or few words about how it fits in the argument, and an indication of where it comes from. If the author’s use of any evidence is inconsistent with how you interpret the evidence, discuss the inconsistency with the author. Similarly, if you see additional ways any evidence could contribute to the argument, mention them to the author.
You can’t make an argument without having a thesis to argue for, so theses are important to this essay just as they were to the “Gold Bug” essay. Offer suggestions about theses similar to what you did for that essay. In particular, paraphrase the thesis of the essay you review, and discuss with the author whether your paraphrase captures what they intended. Look for ways to help authors develop debatable but defensible theses. Look for ways to help arguments and conclusions clearly tie back to and support theses.