Assignment Overview – The first step in any research project is to understand what has already been writtenabout that topic. The universe of previous interpretations and investigations is what constitutes the “literature”on a particular topic, and you or I can’t contribute meaningfully to the conversation about that topic without a thorough understanding of the literature. For that reason, a key part of any research project is a “literature review.”
In a thesis project, even at the undergraduate level, a literature review might take the form of a long essay, dealing with scores of sources. We won’t attempt anything of that scope in this class. Rather we’ll focus on some of the basic skills involved in reviewing the literature, using a limited number of sources. It doesn’t sound exciting, but it gets more interesting if you’re reading your sources critically. Moreover, good academic writing depends on your ability to evaluate sources critically.
For this project, you will discuss four sources related to a particular building. (Hagia Sophia, Istanbul)
Once you have chosen your building, you will need to locate sources. You should consult the bibliography in the textbook as a starting point, but you will probably want to do searches in a number of academic databses. For the purposes of this assignment, you are also required to do a general internet search (to “Google” your topic) and find a non-academic web-site that deals with your building. This can be a Wikipedia page. All-told, you should have at least four sources:
Two academic papers from journals
One discussion of the building in a book
One non-academic or quasi-academic online discussion
Once you’ve read these sources carefully, you should have a pretty good command of the Subject Matter Knowledge you need. This, of course, will be built on the general knowledge of the building or its type gained in class. Analysis and Genre Knowledge (what you will write) – Once you’ve done your research the problem is to format it as literature review. This means doing some analysis. Is each source reliable? What points is each author trying to make? What kinds of information (if any) do they use to support their argument? How do they use images to support their argument? Are there disagreements between them? Your job is to take your insights into these issues and organize them comparatively into a discussion of approaches to the topic.
Synthesis and Rhetorical Knowledge (who will you write for) – Obviously, this is an academic paper, but ideally you need to have a reason to be comparing these sources, beyond the fact that you were assigned to do so. I’d like you to assume that you are developing your literature review for a larger case study project with the goal of building a new example of that type. You should assume that you are writing because you have a commission from a rich and powerful client who wants to fund construction of the type of building you’re studying. Obviously, you don’t know enough about this client to tailor your message to their specific interests. Nevertheless, you should think about communicating your research to someone who actually wants to build. This should help you decide what information is really central and what points may be left out.
A good example of rhetorical knowledge in this case would be to recognize that there is no need to include the introductory paragraph of the traditional threeparagraph essay. You can get right into the topic without any “throat-clearing” about “since the beginning of time,” or whatever you might be tempted to write as an introduction.
Writing Process Knowledge (how you will write) – I’ve written this brief with a lot of second person pronouns. Focusing on what YOU need to do in this assignment. The paper itself would be primarily descriptive and therefore in third person. This is an example of writing process knowledge, using knowledge of the genre and the rhetorical situation to make judgments about how you should phrase things and organize your thoughts. Another example is using proper names and references to make sure the reader understands which of your sources you’re describing at any particular point in the paper. Writing Process Knowledge also includes basic mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) and proper citation and bibliography format.Grading will be based on your success in addressing all of the kinds of knowledge listed in bold above. Here are the percentages:
Subject matter knowledge 50%
Genre knowledge 10%
Rhetorical knowledge 10%
Writing process knowledge 30% (includes spelling, grammar, citation format)
The paper should be no more than 1500 words. Use a standard font . All sources you consult should be listed under “References” at the end of your assignment. This bibliography should be in MLA format, as should any parenthetical citations within the text. Note that quotes from your sources must be properly formatted within the text and given correct citations. Failure to meet this requirement will be considered plagiarism and could result in trouble you do not want to have.