Pols 488 Senior Seminar Ethnic Conflict and Civil Wars



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POLS 488 Senior Seminar

Ethnic Conflict and Civil Wars
Spring 2012 TTh 1-2:15 HAL 305
Dr. Samuel S. Stanton, Jr.

ssstanton@gcc.edu

724.458.3854

http://www2.gcc.edu/dept/pols/faculty/stanton/

Office Hours: MWF 9-12, By appt.
Course Overview:
Intrastate conflict is the subject matter of this seminar. We will explore theoretical literature and case studies of ethnic conflict and civil war. Our readings will cover causes, effects, and examples of extreme conflict and violence done in the name of the constructed social group that is identified as an ethnic group. The importance of studying this phenomenon lies in the fact that 102 of 110 conflicts identified in the last decade fall into the category of intrastate conflict (either ethnic conflict or civil war). These types of conflict are responsible for more deaths, more destroyed property, more displacement of population, more economic deprivation than any other forms of conflict in the world. These types of conflict last longer than other forms of violent conflict. These types of conflict facilitate transnational issues such as terrorism, illicit drug trade, human trafficking, illegal arms trade, and the spread of infectious diseases across borders. Due to the ties of kinship and economies, these types of conflict often lead to conflict in neighboring states.
The course will be broken down into four parts. The first section of the course focuses on the fact that ethnic conflict and civil wars more so than any other form of violent conflict involves the causing intentional harm to civilians. Ethnic conflict and civil war is waged between identity groups or between some identifiable group and the government. The fact that one or both sides are not uniformed militaries and the nature of identity conflicts means that civilians are regularly targeted.
The second part of the course considers theories of causation. We will define ethnic conflict, and consider various theories of ethnic conflict and how theories of international relations explain ethnic conflict and civil wars. This portion of the course also considers international norms and security as sources of and issues affected by ethnic conflict. Also within this section of the course we will consider irredentism and nationalism as sources of ethnic conflict and civil wars.
The third part of the course focuses on understanding the organization and strategies employed by rebel groups. We will consider such issues as recruitment of and control over members of rebel organizations. Consideration of governance, violence and resiliency of rebel groups will be part of this section of the course.
Finally we will consider numerous cases of ethnic conflict and civil war to see which theories are more applicable to actual ethnic conflicts and civil wars. We will consider such diverse ethnic conflicts and civil wars as Northern Ireland, Sudan, Mozambique, Peru, Sri Lanka, Congo, Kashmir, Macedonia, Rwanda, and many others. We will seek to understand based on the previous portions of the course why some of these conflicts are much more violent than others. We will also seek to understand options for bringing ethnic conflicts and civil wars to an end.
Goals, Outcomes, and Objectives:
Goals, outcomes and objectives will be monitored through observation of seminar discussions of readings, oral quizzes of students, student leadership of seminar discussions, a lengthy course research papers and a final exam over pertinent course materials.
Goals:

  • To develop an understanding of ethnic conflict and civil wars

  • To help students start applying this knowledge to contemporary and future settings.

  • To assist students in living lives which glorify and honor God through the advancement of knowledge.


Outcomes:

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to define and explain causality of ethnic conflict and civil war. (Dept. Obj. 1,2, 5)

  2. Students will develop an understanding of critical issues affecting the duration and magnitude of violence involved in ethnic conflict and civil war. (Dept. Obj. 1,2,5)

  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze and critique required readings. (Dept. Obj. 2, 4, 6, 7)

  4. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct research to support arguments regarding ethnic conflict and civil war issues. (Dept. Obj. 2, 4, 6, 7)

  5. Students will demonstrate the ability to engage in discussion of topics in a seminar setting. (Dept. Obj. 2, 4, 6, 7)


General Objectives for Students Majoring in Political Science:

    1. Have acquired knowledge of the four major subject areas (American Politics, Political Theory, International Relations, and Comparative Politics) of political science

    2. Be Competitive for graduate and professional school opportunities. Political science majors with strong academic records will be competitive for both master’s and Ph.D. programs in political science and other professional programs and will be competitive for financial stipends.

    3. Be familiar with entry level jobs suitable for political science majors.

    4. Be competitive for entry level jobs suitable for political science majors.

    5. Have the ability to read, comprehend, and evaluate content in professional political science journals, scholarly books, and websites.

    6. Show familiarity with, and the ability to critically evaluate, information sources in the Social Sciences.

    7. Demonstrate a mastery of research and writing skills in the field of political science.

    8. Develop and capacity to apply a Christian moral principles to issues and topics within political science, including using a Christian perspective to evaluate critically political ideas, public policies, and political figures. Simply stated, our aim is that students will seek to understand the field of politics as individuals who are committed to historic Christian thought.


Assessment of Outcomes:

Assessment of outcomes 1, 2, and 3 will be by oral quizzes in class and by instructor assessment of student contribution to seminar discussions. Assessment of outcome 4 will be by 25-30 page seminar paper that is required of all students. Assessment of outcome 5 will be by instructor assessment of student contribution to seminar discussions. Further assessment of goals 1-3 will be conducted through an in-class oral final examination.


Academic Dishonesty Policy
Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a serious violation of moral and academic principles. It involves claiming as one’s own original work the ideas, phrasing, or creative work of another person. As such, plagiarism is a direct violation of the biblical commandments against stealing, bearing false witness, and covetousness; thus, the Grove City College policy. I encourage our students to think seriously about the demands of their Christian faith in regards to this issue.
We remind students that plagiarism includes the following:

  1. any direct quotation of another’s words, from simple phrasing to longer passages, without using quotation marks and properly citing the source of those words;

  2. any summary or paraphrase of another’s ideas without properly citing the source of those ideas;

  3. any information that is not common knowledge —including facts, statistics, graphics, drawings—without proper citation of sources;

  4. any cutting and pasting of verbal or graphic materials from another source—including books, databases, web sites, journals, newspapers, etc.—without the proper citation for each of the sources of those materials; this includes any copyrighted artwork, graphics, or photography downloaded from the Internet without proper citation;

  5. any wholesale “borrowing,” theft, or purchasing of another’s work and presenting it as one’s own, whether from the Internet or from another source;

  6. any presentation of “ghost-written” papers—whether paid for or not—as one’s own original work;

  7. making one’s work available for copying by others, as well as copying work posted on the Internet or otherwise made available by another.

The above statement is taken from the Grove City College Bulletin and The Crimson. Plagiarism in written work in this course will result in a grade of 0 being assigned to that work. Opportunity to correct and resubmit the work is based on time remaining in the course, nature of the plagiarism (is it simply forgotten or improper citation or is it cutting and pasting entire sections of someone else’s work), and whether or not this is a repeat offense for the individual student.



Cheating on In-Class Quizzes and Examinations: Cheating is defined for quizzes and examinations given in class as any of the following actions committed during the exam:

1) looking on a classmate’s exam/quiz

2) use of notes written on scraps of paper

3) use of notes written on clothing

4) use of notes written on any part of your body or another person’s body

5) use of any electronic devise during an exam (with exception of calculators or computer where deemed appropriate by the instructor)

6) any other inappropriate action as determined by the instructor
NOTE: Cheating also occurs if multiple sections of the course are being taught by this instructor and any student questions a student in the other section regarding the content of the exam if that other section has already completed the exam.
PENALTY:

1) Any student who has been seen cheating by the instructor or accused of cheating by another classmate will be interviewed by the faculty member to discuss the full extent of the cheating behavior.

2) Any student who after this interview is deemed by the instructor guilty of cheating will receive a 0 for that assignment.

3) The penalty if applied will be reported to the Student Faculty Review Committee for their review and recommendation of any further action.


Cheating on Take Home Essay Examinations:

1) Rules of Plagiarism do apply to take home examinations.

2) Discussion of material and sharing of notes, readings, etc. with classmates taking the same exam is NOT cheating.

3) Cheating is defined as:



  1. copying portions of any other student’s answer and claiming it as your own

  2. paraphrasing portions of any other student’s answer and claiming it as your own

  3. obvious sharing of answers that while not copied or paraphrased show exacting and distinctive sharing of ideas, logical thought processes, and craftsmanship of the answer


PENALTY:

1) violations of cheating defined as type a or b will receive a 0 for the answer that exhibits cheating occurred.

2) violations of cheating defined by type c mean that the violation involves more than one person. In this case the parties involved will share the grade earned by the answer. For example if the answer earned a possible 30 points out of 33 1/3 points possible, the grade of 30 will be divided among each party to the cheating.

3) The penalty if applied will be reported to the Student Faculty Review Committee for their review and recommendation of any further action.



Communication:

The best way to communicate with anyone is in person. For this reason I keep office hours. The second best way to communicate with me is via email. I warn you up front that I may take several hours to get to your email (I do not live in the cyber realm) and if you email me on a weekend, I may get to that email at some point that weekend but it is more likely that I will respond at some time on Monday. For that reason it is imperative that you communicate with me in a timely fashion and not wait until perilously close to the due date of assignments to ask for advice, consent, clarification, or other consideration.


Behavior:
This course is a senior seminar. We will be engaging in intellectual discourse (ie, argumentation). The purpose of discourse is to reach agreement or if agreement is not possible to reach understanding of the positions staked out by the participants in the discourse. Students are expected to maintain civility in the exchange of ideas. Telling someone you believe they are wrong is acceptable, telling someone that they are just stupid is not acceptable.
Course Requirements:
Discussions and Discussion Leadership: All students are required to give input to class discussions of required readings—this course is a seminar. Students will be randomly selected to lead discussion for the next class meeting. This requires all students to stay abreast of the required readings. To lead the discussion requires the student chosen to be prepared to explain the major arguments of the texts that are required for the particular class meeting and to offer explanation of terms that are employed in the texts. Discussion leadership represents a major part of seminar participation.
Oral Quizzes: On a random basis the instructor will orally quiz students regarding aspects of the readings and course discussions. These quizzes will require students called on by name to answer questions and represent a portion of the seminar participation grade.
Course Paper: A paper of 25-30 pages is required for this course. The paper must be an empirical analysis of some question regarding ethnic conflict or civil war. Course papers are due May 8th at the beginning of class. See attached material regarding grading, style, and rules of writing.
Final Exam: The final exam will be in-class and will be in oral format. The instructor will ask questions and students will provide answers to the instructor.

Grades:
I rarely use +/- grades, but do reserve the right to use such grades as I see warranted based on student merit.
90-100 A

80-89 B


70-79 C

60-69 D


Below 60 F
Grading:
Discussion Participation/Discussion Leadership 30%

Oral Quizzes 20%

Course Paper 40%

Final Exam 10%


LATE WORK:
I do not accept late work, except under dire circumstances (death in immediate family, broken limb, car wreck on way to class, quarantine). Provost Excuses may allow you to miss a class and I do not count this against your participation, but late work is not covered by Provost Excuses when you know the deadline at the onset of the semester. If you must miss class the day the exam is handed out, you must make the effort to get a copy of the exam from me. If you must miss class the day the exam is due, you knew when it was due, turn it in before you leave campus.
Required Texts:
Carter, Judy etal. Eds. 2009. Regional and Ethnic Conflicts, Perspectives from the Front Lines,

Pearson/Prentice Hall 978-0-13-189428-0


Jesse, Neal G. and Kristen P. Williams. 2011. Ethnic Conflict, A Systematic Approach to Cases

of Conflict, CQ Press 978-0-87289-492-1
Saideman, Stephen M. and R. Wiliam Ayres. 2008. For Kin or Country, Xenophobia,

Nationalism, and War, Columbia University Press, 978-0-231-14478-0
Slim, Hugo. 2010. Killing Civilians, Method, Madness, and Morality in War, Columbia

University Press, 978-0-231-70037-5


Taras, Raymond C. and Rajat Ganguly. 2006. Understanding Ethnic Conflict, 4th Edition,

Pearson/Longman 978-0-205-74230-1

Weinstein, Jeremy M. 2007. Inside Rebellion, The Politics of Insurgent Violence. Cambridge

University Press, 978-0-521-67797-4


Journal Articles and other readings as assigned. Readings will be assigned at least one week prior to discussion and use in class.
Course Outline: Instructor reserves the right to make changes as needed to this outline:
Jan 24-Feb 7 --Course Introduction

--Ethnic Conflict/Civil War and Civilians

-Hugo Slim, Killing Civilians

Chps 1-3 Jan. 26-31

Chps 4-7 Feb. 2-7
February 9-28 --Theories of Ethnic Conflict

-Theories of Ethnicity and Nationalism

Jesse and Williams Chp 1-2 Feb 9

-Ethnic Conflict and International Relations

Taras and Ganguly Chps 1-2 Feb 14

Chps 3-4 Feb 16

-Causes of Conflict I: Nationalism and Irredentism

Saideman and Ayers Chps 1-2 Feb 21

Chps 3-4 Feb 23

Chps 5-7 Feb 28


March 6-27 --Organization and Strategies of Rebellion

--Varieties of Rebellion

Weinstein Introduction Mar 9

--Rebel Organizations

Weinstein Chp 1-2 Mar 8

--Recruitment and Control

Weinstein Chp 3 Mar 13

Weinstein Chp 4 Mar 15

--Strategies

Weinstein Chp 5 Mar 20

Weinstein Chp 6 Mar 22

Weinstein Chp 7 Mar 22

--Conclusions

Weinstein Chp 8-9 Mar 27


Mar 29-April 17 --Causes of Conflict, Part II (the following articles are from major

Political Science Journals and should be easily obtainable online or by inter-library loan)

--Failed States Mar 29

Posen, Barry (1993) “The Security Dilemma and Ethnic

Conflict”

Taras and Ganguly, Chp. 8

--Natural Resources April 10

Ross, Michael (2004) “What Do We Know about Natural

Resources and Civil War?”

Stanton and St. Marie (2004) “Environmental Scarcity and

Ethnic Conflict”

--Type of Government April 12

Saideman, etal. (2002) “Democratization, Political

Institutions, and Ethnic Conflict: A Pooled, Cross-Sectional Time Series Analysis from 1985-1998”

Reynal-Querol, Marta (2002) “Ethnicity, Political Systems,

and Civil Wars”

--Greed, Grievance, Escalation April 17

Collier and Hoeffler (2004) “Greed and Grievance in Civil

War”


Davenport, Christian, David A. Armstrong II and Mark I.

Lichbach. 2008. “From Mountains to Movements: Dissent, Repression and Escalation to Civil War.” Archived at: http://www.quantoid.net/MovementMountains.pdf


April 19-May 8 --Ethnic Conflict and Civil War Case Studies

--Sri Lanka April 19

Jesse and Williams, Chp 6

Carter etal., Chp 7

Taras and Ganguly, Chp 7

--Rwanda April 24

Carter etal. Chp 6

Taras and Ganguly, Chp 8

--Northern Ireland and Kashmir April 26

Jesse and Williams, Chp 3

Carter etal, Chp 3 and Chp 9

--Sudan May 1

Jesse and Williams, Chp 5

Taras and Ganguly, Chp 8

--Israel and Palestine May 3

Jesse and Williams, Chp 7

Carter etal, Chp 5

Stanton and Fregulia (Manuscript to be distributed)

--Balkans May 8

Carter etal, Chps 2 & 10

Jesse and Williams, Chp 4
FINAL EXAM May 12, 7 pm

Paper Grading:

30% Style and Composition



70% Content
TWO IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT PAPER GRADING:
POINT 1:
When I grade a paper, I follow “Dr. Stanton’s Rules for Writing” which are attached to this syllabus. If on any page I am forced to make more than 5 numerical notations, I will quit reading the paper. This is not a grammar and composition course, I do not have the time when grading papers to spend 2 to 3 hours on an individual paper because of poor writing quality. If you follow the “Rules”, have the paper edited, and use the appropriate style, 30% of your grade is, to be cliché, “in the bag”.
POINT 2:
Even if a paper is stylistically and grammatically correct, and even if you make logical arguments, discuss major points, and actually do an analytical critique rather than a report, you may still only earn a C or B on the assignment. Some arguments are simply better than others. Well written papers make readers think and possibly raise arguments that a reader might not have thought about before reading this paper. Do not confuse making the reader baffled with making the reader think. At the end of the day, a paper meriting an A has met all of the technical challenges of the assignment and has shown a high degree of intellectual aptitude. A high degree of intellectual aptitude is displayed by clarity, sharpness of wit and critique, and by how much it makes the reader think. In short, A papers are special and rare.

GUIDE FOR WRITING EMPIRICAL RESEARCH PAPERS
A research paper should pose a question about some relevant event or behavior. This question should be easily recognizable and found somewhere in the first page of your paper. Included in the introduction of your paper should be a defense of why anyone should care about finding an answer to your question. You must conduct a literature review that critically evaluates how other scholarship has addressed the general area of your question (or in some cases, how other scholarship has addressed your question specifically). The literature review serves two purposes: One, it allows you to develop a theoretical explanation of how events or behaviors occur. Two, it allows you to determine and explain how your paper adds to our knowledge of the event or behavior (strengthening your argument about why we should care to read your paper).
Your proposed answer to the research question is your hypothesis. The hypothesis suggests factors that contribute to or impede the event or behavior in question. Hypotheses infer something about events or behaviors based on interpretation of some observation(s). What this means is that in political science we are in the business of inferring causation, if you want to simply report what is, take a journalism class. The hypothesis is a testable claim. By using quantitative or qualitative methods, you test the hypothesis for strength and validity. This means specifying how you are measuring and interpreting causal factors. It also means reaching findings (inferences) about whether or not your hypothesis provides a quality answer to the research question.
Research papers end with a conclusion section that ties everything together. What do we learn about the event or behavior from the research you have conducted? What does this tell us about the world and its future?
Research relies on the evaluation of multiple sources. If you rely on one or two sources for most or all of your research you have engaged in plagiarism. Papers that include plagiarism earn an automatic 0. Popular media should generally be avoided as a source of information (although use of sources such as the New York Times, London Times, etc. for specificity of events and statements made by people is acceptable). Textbooks should also generally be avoided as a source of information (if you have a question about whether or not a book is a textbook, just ask your professor). Generally, for a paper of 20 pages in length you would desire about 15 quality sources of information.
Style and grammar do matter. Because grammar matters, proofread!!! Because grammar matters do not use dangling modifiers, end sentences with prepositions, use sentence fragments, etc. Because style matters, look at a style manual and use appropriate citation style (not citing the source of information used in your paper is plagiarism), use appropriate bibliography styles, and always number your pages appropriately.
In Political Science, two styles are prevalent in the scholarly literature—APSA, which is a revised form of APA, and Turabian, also known as the Chicago Manual of Style (which was originally edited by Katherine Turabian). However, lately in an attempt to homogenize the different forms found in the numerous styles, the intelligent designers of the use of English have made these styles indistinct. Today, MLA, APA, and Turabian will look almost exactly the same if one consults a style manual. To be sure, however, political scientists are resistant to change in some areas. Since the purpose of this course is in part to correctly train you in appropriate writing technique for professional political science work, you will find provided for you in the space below, examples of proper in-text citation, proper footnote citations, and proper bibliographical citations. For all other issues (page numbering, title pages, subdivisions (chapters, sub-chapters, etc.) within a paper, etc.) use APSA. A copy of the APSA style manual may be borrowed for 24 hours from Dr. Stanton.
IN-TEXT CITATION (APSA):
Olzak (1992) offers an ecological theory of ethnic conflict. The basis of the theory is competition causes conflict. James (2002) refers to competition as the moral equivalent of war. Competition is an embedded structure in humans and affects the actions of individuals. When translated into group settings we see similarities to sports teams athletic contests. The struggle becomes “us vs. them”, a struggle for glory, reputation, and prestige. Competition is so ingrained it cannot be rooted out of the behavioral patterns of people. As James notes, our ancestors bred it into us (2002, 146). Competition for resources and position are fuel for a greater dilemma. Any gain made by a group will elicit a response from at least one other group in society, decreasing stability and increasing the likelihood of the security dilemma.
NOTE: if you are using in-text citation, footnotes or endnotes are used solely for the purpose of providing additional information that was not warranted as part of the actual text.
NOTE: if you directly quote or use ideas directly from a source, it requires year and page number as in the third citation in the example paragraph.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL

The following website provides example of APSA bibliographical entries:

http://citesource.trincoll.edu/apsa/apsa.html


Dr. Stanton’s Rules for Writing

Built upon the work of a long line of mentors and colleagues
Sentence Rules:


  1. Do not begin sentences in any of the following ways: “There are/is…”, “This is…”, “It is…,” etc.

  2. Do not use “this,” “these,” “that,” “those,” “which,” or “it” unless the word has a clear and unmistakable antecedent nearby. Never begin a sentence with “this” unless you follow it immediately with a noun that re-identifies the idea to which you are referring.

  3. Never publicly dangle a participle or misplace a modifier: write “Showing unmistakable signs of ignorance, the student did not persuade his professor;” NOT> “The student did not persuade his professor, showing unmistakable signs of ignorance.”

  4. Never write an incomplete sentence (participles -- “ing” words -- cannot stand as verbs). A verb must agree with its subject in person and number.

  5. Know these three rules about commas:

a. Join independent clauses (clauses with a subject and a verb) either by using (1) a comma with a conjunction (“Right-handers predominantly use the left side of the brain, so left-handers are the only ones in their right minds.”) or (2) a semicolon without a conjunction (“Right-handers predominantly use the left side of the brain; left-handers are the only ones in their right minds.”)

b. Separate items in a series by using a comma after every item before the conjunction (“The professor was arbitrary, arrogant, and heartless.”)

c. Never use a comma between the subject and the verb or between the verb and its object

(except for interrupting clauses that use two (2) commas).



  1. Bury words like “however,” “furthermore,” “moreover,” “indeed,” etc. (conjunctive adverbs) in the clause or sentence; do not put them at the beginning. (E.g. “The students, however, learned something.”)

  2. Be consistent when you have two or more parallel structures. With adjectives: “He was pompous, picky, and terrorized freshmen” is wrong. “He was pompous, picky, and fond of terrorizing freshmen” is right. With prepositions: “A student could count on his bad temper and arbitrariness” is wrong. “A student could count on his bad temper and on his arbitrariness” is right. With correlatives: “He graded a paper not only for content but for style” is wrong. “He graded a paper not only for content but also for style” is right.

  3. Do not end a sentence with a preposition.

  4. Do not use the passive voice (“Careless students are failed by the ruthless professor”); use the active voice (“The ruthless professor fails careless students”). Because the active voice is direct and clear, this rule is the most important of style, but it has serious consequences for your meaning as well. Politicians, administrators, and those foolishly trying to avoid the consequences of their actions love the passive voice because it protects them from facts and responsibility: “Mistakes were made.”

  5. Adverbs should be adverbs. Do not do it different – if you know what I am saying.

  6. Every pronoun should have an immediate and clear antecedent noun to which it agrees in person, number, and gender.


Paragraph and Thesis Rules:

  1. Each paragraph must stick to the subject introduced by its first sentence. Most importantly, the first sentence of the first paragraph must establish the context of your paper. “John Wayne first appears in Stagecoach with a rifle in his hand.” NOT> “Duke has a gun.”

  2. Do not use one or two sentences as a paragraph.

  3. Make the transition between your sentences and your paragraphs clear and logical. This task is the most difficult in writing, but, as you know, life is hard.

  4. Give your paper a clear thesis sentence at the end of your first paragraph. If you can remember only one rule, this rule is the one you must remember. The first paragraph should also demonstrate how the rest of the paper is organized.

  5. Avoid using quotations to begin or end a paragraph or a paper. Your own words are most important in those places.

  6. In longer papers remind the reader of your thesis throughout the body of your paper.


Rules concerning Argumentation:

  1. Never just summarize or paraphrase. Assume your reader has read/seen it. I do not want to know what happened. I want to know your ideas about what happened.

  2. Support your assertions and ideas with concrete examples, with brief quotes from the story, book, or film you are discussing, or with a short citation from some reliable authority.

  3. Do not hedge. Words like “maybe,” “seem,” “perhaps,” and “might” do not keep you from being wrong; they merely alert the reader to the fact that you are worried about it.

  4. Avoid vague generalizations: “as we all know,” “people say,” “since the beginning of time,” etc. Obvious claims such as “mankind would not exist without the heart” are equally lamentable.

  5. Write about works of art in the present tense, since Hamlet will be stabbing Polonius and Roy Hobbs will be knocking the lights out with his home runs long after your grandchildren have forgotten your name.

  6. Avoid rhetorical questions.

  7. Delete the phrase “in the past” from your writing as well as any hint of chronological snobbery. Chronological snobbery is the erroneous assumption that, with the passage of time, mankind has gotten progressively wiser. In the past such a pedantic list of writing rules would have been unnecessary for undergraduates.

  8. When citing a dictionary refer to the Oxford English Dictionary whenever possible.


Diction Rules:

  1. Do not misspell words. Misspelled words look dumb; do not look dumb. Use a dictionary or a literate friend to check your spelling. On a word processor always use spell-check, but do not trust it! Possessing a limited vocabulary and undiscerning between right words spelled wrongly and wrong words spelled rightly, spell-check is no substitute for proofreading. Spell out one and two digit numbers.

  2. Never use contractions.

  3. A possessive without an apostrophe is a misspelled word. One exception is the possessive of “it”: “its.” “It is” contracts to “it’s.” Since you will not use contractions, you will never write “it’s” on a paper.




  1. Choose the best word for the context. Your papers should be a place “where every word is at home, taking its place to support the others” (Eliot “Little Gidding,” V.217-218). Beware of unintended irony: an N.C. State basketballer once explained his ability to shoot with either hand, “yeah, I’m amphibious.” Suffice it to say this student-athlete, to avoid drowning in his coursework, crawled out of school and into the NBA.

  2. Also beware these other egregious violations of Rule Twenty-Nine (29): jargon (say “library”; do not say “instructional media center”), cliche (say “the professor is a conservative grouch”; do not say “the professor is an old fogey”), slang (say “the teacher is foolish”; do not say “the teacher is a dork”), hyperbole (say “this man has too high a regard for himself”; do not say “this man is the most arrogant jerk who ever lived”), gobbledygook (say “now”; do not say “at this point in time”), and malapropism (confusion of idioms; one former NFL player commented, “I really cleaned his bell; I rang his clock”).

  3. Use your smallest most Anglo-Saxon, most comfortable words; big words impress only high school teachers and smell of the thesaurus.

  4. Lose the word “very” and, like, you know, other gratuitous additives from, you know, your written and spoken vocabulary.

  5. Non-English words should be italicized. Foreign words and terms that are not commonly used should be defined when initially used in the paper.


Format Rules:

34. Number your pages. Numbering begins on the first page of text, title pages are not numbered.

35. Do not widow/orphan lines from lengthier quotes, single sentences from paragraphs, sub-headings from first line of text in the section, labels of tables, charts, figures, graphics from the table, chart, figure or graphic to which it refers.

36. Use APA/APSA Style for your papers. See examples attached to your syllabus.

37. Give your paper an informative title. The name of the work you are dealing with is NOT the title of your paper. “Shakespeare’s Use of Time in Hamlet” is by a thoughtful person; “It Takes a Broken Egghead to Make a Hamletis by a clown; Hamlet is by Shakespeare.

38. Italicize all full-length films, plays, and books. Do likewise with magazine and newspaper titles. Short stories, film shorts, one-act plays, and articles go in quotation marks (“…”). Do not underline or put your own title in quotation marks.

39. On those extremely rare occasions when you quote more than two lines of text, indent five spaces left and right and single space the quotation, and leave off the quotation marks.

40. When you quote from or refer to a source, cite it appropriately and include a works cited page of some kind.

41. When you borrow and idea or paraphrase statements from existing scholarship, give appropriate citation.

42. The first citation within a paragraph must contain the author’s name, even if it is the same author and item from the previous citation in the preceding paragraph. Likewise, the first citation on any page must contain the author’s name and the year of publication, even if the citation is for the same source as the last citation on the preceding page.

43. Print your paper out only on the front side of the pages.

44. Use 1” margins top, bottom, and right, use a 1 ½” margin on the left side of pages.

45. Use Times New Roman 12 point font.

46. If a header is used on page 1 to identify you, the course and the date, this material should be single-spaced and have minimal spacing between it and the body of the paper and it should be used only on the first page. Such header is not required if a title page is used. Title pages are required for course research papers.

47. Before handing in your final copy, have an intelligent friend read your paper to you; then fix it. Frequently save your file, and if possible keep a hard copy, and/or a version on another drive.



48. Do not hand in a paper unless you have come to care about it. You believe in goodness and truth; therefore, commit yourself to communicating your ideas well and true.




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