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Lecture Notes

Spring Sociology

Table of contents
  1. Lecture Notes
    1. Introduction to Course
      1. Research Seminar
      2. Philosophy of Knowledge: Epistemology
      3. Why Are We Here?
      4. Why Research?
      5. Research Seminar
    2. Introduction to Research
      1. Navigate
      2. Introduction to Research Recap
      3. Active Reading: Discerning Argumentation in Complex Texts
        1. A Structure to Understand Complex Tests
      4. Prospectus Writing
        1. Purpose of a Paper Prospectus
        2. Elements of a Paper Prospectus
        3. Focused Topic
        4. Preliminary Research Question
        5. Framework
      5. Elements
        1. Hypothesis
        2. Literature
    3. Week 3
      1. Navigate
      2. From Topic to Questions
      3. Bibliography
      4. Annotated Bibliography
        1. Writing Up from the Sources
        2. Letting Sources Structure Your Essay
        3. Use Your Bibliography to Maximum Effect
        4. Appropriate Sources for an Academic Essay
        5. Looking and Individual Entries
      5. Evaluating a Source
        1. Determining if a Source Will Be Useful
        2. Placing a Source in Your Bibliography
        3. Recap
    4. Week 4
      1. Recap from Bibliography Work
      2. Thinking with Theory
      3. A History of Theory
        1. Medieval
        2. 17th Century
        3. 18th Century
        4. Modern Social Theory
        5. Readings for Week 4
    5. Week 5
      1. Introduction
      2. Drafting and Planning
      3. Elements in a Plan
      4. Drafting
    6. Climate Change & Contested Knowledge: Historicizing the Anthropocene
      1. Navigate
      2. Introduction
      3. Second Industrial Revolution
      4. Global Cooling and the Arrhenius Equation
      5. 1938 Callendar Confirmation
      6. World War II
      7. Keeling and Postwar Science
      8. Nuclear Science
      9. Emissions and Movements
      10. Science in the 1980s
      11. UN Process and the Creation of the IPCC
    7. Week 6
      1. Longform Analysis
      2. Planning an Analysis Section
        1. Building from the PIE Model
    8. Week 7
      1. Longform Analysis Recap
      2. Section Writeup Feedback
      3. Longform Analysis
      4. Baseline
      5. Unraveling
      6. Signposting
    9. Technology & Identity: Alienation, Cyborgs, and the 21st Century
      1. Introduction
      2. Technology
      3. Two Theories of Technology
        1. Second Industrial Revolution
        2. Marx’s Alienation and Industrial Labor
        3. Haraway’s Cyborg Theory
        4. Differences
    10. Week 8
      1. Navigate
      2. Section Writeup
      3. Beginnings and Endings
      4. Introductions
        1. Hook
        2. Frame the Question
        3. Thesis Statement
        4. Roadmap
      5. Conclusions and Implications
    11. Week 9
      1. Section Writeup 3 Feedback
      2. Unraveling: Organizing and Expressing Complexity
        1. Explaining Complexity
      3. Revision: The Heart of Writing
        1. What is it?
        2. A multipart process
        3. Revise your thesis
        4. Micro Reworkings

Introduction to Course

Research Seminar

  • What is research?
  • What is the purpose of scholarship?

Philosophy of Knowledge: Epistemology

  • How can we generate knowledge?
    • I did a study, I can assert a statement.
  • Why are we here?
    • Critical inquiry of refining a question to arrive at more profound, clear, and concise understandings of where we are.
    • Purpose, history.
  • To know thyself.
    • Socrates is a Greek philosopher bieng persecuted for corrupting youth.
    • A trial; being interrogated about the purpose being his questions and teachings.
    • “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
  • In what ways can we know ourselves?
    • Biological sense - physiology, ecological. What is the nature of existence?
    • Mental sense - thoughts, pyschology, feelings.
    • Social sense - relationships, history.
  • Knowing Thyself is not just individual, but about relationships - when we look inward, we also look outward.
  • What is knowledge? What does it mean to know?
  • The meaning of life - to better understand ourselves as individuals and as a collective.
  • Two leading traditions in how we come to believe in something:
    • Empiricism - notion that we produce knowledge based on observations, sensation, recording.
    • Rationality - we can generate truth not from observation, but from our concious thought: reason, logic, mathematics.
  • Harding’s Feminist Standpoint Theory: knowledge is socially situated.

Why Are We Here?

Purpose of research and of our being here, of understanding, of looking through the lens of better understandings:

  1. Empiricism: knowledge from observation
  2. Rationality: knowledge from internal thought, logic
  3. The Individual: biological, internal, and social
  4. Context: environment, society, history

Why Research?

  • Ultimately, trying to understand something about the world.
  • A process to better know oneself, or/and the world.
  • A process of self-discovery as much an inquiry about the weorld around us.
Helps us…Questions
answer questions of human existenceWhy are we here? What is knowledge?
better understand ourselvesWho are we? What are relationships between ourselves and the world?
solve pratical problemsHow does this phenomenon work?
  • Harding’s feminist standpoint theory
    • Context of Discovery: how does context influence our questions?
    • Logic of Inquiry: foundational assumptions and understandings that shape our work
    • A Process of Achievement: not inherent to fixed positions

Research Seminar

  • 15-18 page research paper on a topic and question of your choosing
    • In the spirit of “know thyself”, your choice should be a topic/issue/question you are personally interested/curious/concerned about.
  • Research process:
    1. Select a topic
    2. Formulate a question
    3. Propose a hypothesis
    4. Read/research the literature
    5. Refine your claim
    6. Write your paper
    7. Revise

Introduction to Research

Introduction to Research Recap

  • Epistemological foundations for social science research.
    • Know Thyself: empiricism and rationalism
  • Developing a research plan for a long research paper
    • Generating a focused topic
    • Writing a prospectus
  • Standpoint theory
    • What is Harding’s argument?

Active Reading: Discerning Argumentation in Complex Texts

  • In research, one will encounter advanced texts; some texts people base entire careers on.
    • Struggling with texts is natural.

A Structure to Understand Complex Tests

  • Sumo wrestling with complex texts.
  • What are the laws and rules of engagement?
  • Getting in contact with the text.
  • Central tasks to uncovering arguments in complex texts - assumes standard methods don’t work.
    • Structure: what is the purpose of each section?
    • Central Question: can we reverse engineer the central question?
    • What is the “they say”? What is the counter claim?
    • Alternate resources: ask, research, collaborate
    • Stakes: what is the significance of the intervention?
  • This approach can help.

Prospectus Writing

Purpose of a Paper Prospectus

  • Mental outline of large conceptual work
  • Breaks work into discrete chunks
  • Think through and articulate some of your expectations
  • A prospectus is a contract with yourself.

Elements of a Paper Prospectus

  • Focused topic
  • Preliminary research question
  • Framework / theory - need to engage with this; an approach or lens used to approach the subject.
  • Hypothesis
  • Literature
  • Plan for completion

Focused Topic

  • Specifies the interest
  • Specifies the actors
  • Specifies the action
  • Gives context for the intervention
  • Go big or go home; vagaries banished to the ether! Greater specificity allows for greater success.

Preliminary Research Question

  • Not the central question for the finished essay; just a step into the field.
  • Should express curiosity.
  • Follow what is the most interesting for you.
  • Initial question can be both factual and conceptual, but there needs to be a conceptual component at least.
  • Ground it in a specific text - source of interest? Newspapers, theories, readings from last quarter.


  • How will you look at your topic?
  • A way to simplify and abstract your topic/question
  • Economic or ideological? Gender or class?
  • Theory is a specific method, analysis, insight to be applied to your topic.
  • Not expected to have theory yet
  • Must be appropriate to topic



  • More like expectations: what do you think is likely here? What do you expect to find? Why?


  • Research as much as possible. Point to specific articles, authors, and ideas to use.
  • Point to a broad field and possible avenues.
  • Want to use feminist literature on economics.
  • Explore how political scientists talk about the great crash.

Week 3

From Topic to Questions

  • The question is central to the process
  • Without a question, the project lacks direction.
  • How do you move from a generalized interest and develop it into a question?
  • The research question should drive what you bring to your projects.
    • Be curious about the world.
    • Focus around a very specific claim.
    • Use skills generated by our analysis.
    • Need curiosity - listen to your curiosity.
  • When researching:
    • Limit your variables
    • Define and set boundaries
    • Ask conceptual questions
    • Look for ultimate causality.


  • Foundational work for academic argumentation.
  • You cannot produce material without engaging with texts on an evidentiary basis.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Help orient you to a field of research literature quickly so you can get a grasp of the contours - what is it people are saying? Where do I fit in? What is it I am trying to say?
  • Purpose of annotated bibliographies:
    • Get to know the field/scope of the debate
    • Identify key sources and touchstones of literature
    • Prioritize elements of the field
    • Better understand specific texts
    • Provide an outline for the project.

Writing Up from the Sources

  • Social sciences are an empirical tradition; embedded in positivist thinking.
  • Notion that the way we know the world is through evidence.
  • Papers can be structured entirely from source work.
    • Sources allow us to make claims, our work should be organized by sources.
    • Write up from the text, much like in TS History Reading Responses.

Letting Sources Structure Your Essay

HookNovel, personal story
They SayProminent scholarship
TheoryActivist doc., philosophy
EvidenceEmpirical study, scholarship, analysis
ConclusionsScholarship, political documents, news
  • Anything you say must be evidenced by sources.
  • Look at all sorts of pieces.

Use Your Bibliography to Maximum Effect

  • What will I need to say? Where/how can I find it?
  • Look for a diversity of sources; most academic but not all.
    • “Color sources” - empirical, theoretical.
  • Look at many more sources than you will use.

Appropriate Sources for an Academic Essay

  • No inappropriate sources, only inappropriate uses.
  • Use a majority of scholarly sources.
    • Sources published by the academic press
    • Peer-reviewed academic journal
    • Government or other methodologically rigorous studies
  • Non-traditional sources are also acceptable if used appropriately.
  • Ways to identify source types
    • Author
    • Publisher
    • Audience
    • Content
    • Use - how you read it

Looking and Individual Entries

  • Books - you don’t need to look at the entire book. Look at what is particularly helpful.

Evaluating a Source

Determining if a Source Will Be Useful

  • Ask questions of your sources: what are you looking for - what do you need?
  • Will this source have it?
  • Contextual reading - title, publisher, connection
  • Skim - abstract, intro, core section, book review
  • Index search - does it have what you’re looking for?
  • Is it reliable? How can I use it?

Placing a Source in Your Bibliography

  • What are you using the source for?
  • Time for a close reading.
  • Main argument or subclaim.
  • Read that section in detail - skip other extraneous material.
  • Data, concepts, anecdotes. Read only the section you need. Extract data via tables, graphs, etc.


  • Evaluate for initial/deeper reads.
  • What information am I looking for?
  • Evaluate for use:
  • Does this relate?
  • What does this do for my claim?
  • Can I analyze, use, quote this?

Week 4

Recap from Bibliography Work

  • You cannot say anything without sources.
  • Find the types of sources that enable you to say what you want to say.
  • There are no inappropriate source.

Thinking with Theory

  • What is social theory?
  • Inquiries into the unknowable
  • Theories: frameworks, paradigms, concepts, use to analyze and understand social phenomena
  • Exploring the complex and the “unknowable”
    • abstract and simplify complex phenomena
    • provide a lens of analysis for new insights

A History of Theory

  • Social theory emerges with modernity.


  • Machiavelli - the Prince
    • Statecraft
    • Politics
    • This is how state politics works if you want to maintain power and develop projects of your interest.

17th Century

  • End of feudalism
  • Rise of capitalism
    • Resource extraction, profit making - tranformational in how people think of themselves.
  • Enlightenment and humanism
    • Reawakening of human understanding; both humanistic (human focused, not divine) and scientific.
  • Scientific revolution
    • Sets of knowledge that set European societies off in new directions.
  • Connection to Americas

18th Century

  • Locke - Two Treatises on Government
    • Argues for industrious use, a natural right for property.
    • Develops into a system of slavery.
    • The purpose of government is to protect property.
    • Clearly a political project; he is generating a new theory of society based on forms of social organization.
  • Montesquieu - The Spirit of Laws
    • Despotism, monarchy, republics.
    • What is happening in Europe and the rest of the world?
    • Why are there different types of social organization?
      • If we can categorize into different categories, why are there disparities?
    • The spirit is made of climate, geography, culture.
    • Is writing at the birth of nation-states (France, England, Great Britain). Notion of trans-historic geographic cultural spirit is foundational to concepts of nation.
      • How do we define and justify ourselves as a people?
      • We have a distinct spirit separate from other sets of people.
  • Rousseau - Discourse on Inequality
    • Asking not about government (although partially) but about other types of social transformation that are happening in the 17th and 18th centuries.
    • Central question surrounding inequality. If government is being produced to justify property, why is there not a greater degree of equality?
    • Why is social distinction and hierarchy so embedded in European culture?
    • Argues for “The State of Nature”; natural hierarchies (physical differences) vs social hierarchies.
  • Smith - The Wealth of Nations
  • People are positing different types of answers about how society functions.
  • Unprovable causal explanations for how these things happen that can only be posited as theory; trying to answer the unknowable.
  • Isolate part of the complex emerging social hold.

Modern Social Theory

  • Fields of sociology, political science, economics
    • Comte
    • Foucault - discourse, deeply embedded and inescapable structures of power. Society is a form of discipline, surveillance, and public. What ideas do people hold?
    • Marx - positing theories of class revolutions under the guise of nationalism.
    • Butler - most famous feminist theoist currently; gender and sex as social constructs.
    • Mills
    • Said - colonialism.
    • Weber
    • Chomsky - social power, anarchism, linguistics.
  • Sharing transcendent qualities
  • Social change emerged as too complex
    • Montesquieu - climate and culture produces the spirit of society in law
    • Rousseau and Smith - look to economics, private property, to explain social change
  • Why are national revolutions emerging in this new way?

Readings for Week 4

  • Race: W.E.B. Du Bois. Interested in why white people keep identifying as white people and what creates hostility. “Pyschological wage”.
  • Gender: Simone de Beauvoir. Foundational for a series of other later social thinkers, including Edward Said and others. Concept of otherness, relations of the other.
  • Class: Louis Althusser. Thinking about how ideas are material, economic, and are structured. “Ideological State Apparatus”.

Week 5


  • Not only thinking about how we write, but the process by which we go about constructing writing.

Drafting and Planning

  • Transition from exploration to drafting and planning.
  • Planning is developing a conceptual map of the entire project to facilitate writing.
  • Thinking specifically about segments of the project - what do they look like, even if you don’t have them?

Elements in a Plan

- Introduction
- Review / setup
- Claim / evidence
- Implications
- Conclusion
  • Having a broad conception of main conlusions you want is important.
  • Getting more fine-grained.
- Hook
- Central question
- Thesis / hypothesis
- Field literature review / they say
- Theory source
- Claim, evidence, source, purpose
- Personal account and interest
- Implications for the field
- Implications for the universe - politics, philosophy, policy, humanity.
- Conclusions - new interest - hook.


  • Start writing a section; choose the most compelling evidence, then write up your analysis.
  • Allow the process to change your plan.
  • What problem have you encountered? What is an analysis of what is happening? Does it bring you to new conclusions?

Climate Change & Contested Knowledge: Historicizing the Anthropocene


  • Impacts of human-caused climate change; some have labeled the geologic epoch in which we live the “Anthropocene” - defined by human impacts on the planet.
  • Human carbon emissions have been accelerating.

Second Industrial Revolution

  • Important marker of climate change.
  • Distinguished by the usage of fossil fuels from water-powered (and other forms) to wood, then coal.
    • Made all of the production, transportation, etc. possible.
    • Power plants and factories were powered by coal.
  • Coal became an important product; coal is very carbon-rich, which is why it burns and emits pollution.
  • Oil begins to rival coal.
  • 1912, a crucial decision made by the British Navy overseen by Winston Churchill: shifted power source of ships from coal to oil.
    • British military might was now dependent on oil.
    • Facilitated a process of military conquest and expansion.
    • Military institutions are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide today.
  • Ties capitalist growth and expansion with state power.
  • About half of carbon emissions are from petroleum use. Had a dramatic impact.

Global Cooling and the Arrhenius Equation

  • What are the changes in the natural world being caused by?
  • A long period of debate and negotiation attempting to pinpoint the cause of rising global temperatures.
  • Temperatures have not been continually rising.
  • Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist, attempted to answer the question of global cooling.
  • Many cycles of cooling periods in which there could be glacial expansion.
  • Earth’s orbital tilt, activities on the sun… what are climactic conditions themself not being the result of but a causal agent in periods of glacial expansion.
  • Arrhenius was attempting to measure the infrared radiation reflected from the moon.
    • Comes up with the Arrhenius equation.
    • Energy diffusion in fluid dynamics of the atmosphere can be measured.
    • Found warming to be good for climate cooling.

1938 Callendar Confirmation

  • Many believed that other sources of cooling contributed to climate change, rather than Arrhenius’ proposal.
  • Controlled environment absorption studies found that there was a limit to how much radiation carbon could absorb.
  • Atmospheric radiation could reach a saturation level.
  • Later, Guy Callendar confirmed Arrhenius’s work.
    • Performed calculations; looked at data from weather observation and calculated before computers the emission of carbon into the atmosphere.
  • There did appear to be a correlation between increasing temperatures and emissions.
  • Callendar continued to publish scientific papers, arguing for a correlation, eventually convinced that this was causal.
  • However, Callendar was isolated; the British meteorologist disputed his claims.

World War II

  • Saw a significant increase in the industrial capacity of the globe.
  • Modern warfare is based on the total mobilization of society.
  • All the industrial capacity a society can produce must be brought to the fore.
  • The ability to produce large amounts of oil-consuming mechanisms.
  • Expansive productive growth: these are all petrol-based in their continued use and maintenance.
  • New concerns around political economy continued to grow; government contracts to firms like Boeing help to support economic growth.

Keeling and Postwar Science

  • Postwar science was inconclusive concerning these problems.
  • It was not clear that carbon was causing these things, or that it was significant enough to overcome other phenomena.
  • More scientists in the 1950s and 60s (still a minority) began to become convinced that there was a causal relationship between the two.
  • An emerging consensus.

Nuclear Science

  • Debates over atom energy and the use of atomic weapons.
  • The atom energy program in the United States comes out of military necessity around creating atomic weapons.
  • Manhattan project pursued by the United States.
  • The United States government began to produce a series of propaganda pieces about the civilian uses of atomic technologies.
  • Notoriously difficult to contain. A half-life of plutonium is something beyond the comprehension of how humans can maintain control.
  • Other troubling elements:
    • Initial atomic tests were happening in the Pacific ocean in places like the Bikini Atoll.
    • Blasts led to deep-sea fishermen becoming radiated from the nuclear fallout that they were dying.
    • United States was performing above-ground testing in places like Nevada and New Mexico.
      • Dozens of experimental nuclear blasts.
      • People in the region would see the flashes of light.
    • A growing movement of critical scientists / counterhegemonic scientists.
      • Studies the impact of radioactive fallout on humans.
  • Politicization of science.

Emissions and Movements

  • By the 60s and into the 70s, there emerged movements of scientists who are writing about the impact humans have on their environment.
  • Climate is not the major concern, but radiation and other forms of chemical contamination are.
  • Putting forward different values through science.
  • Mass movements are emerging, with a focus on pollution.
  • Led to the limiting of particle pollutants into the atmosphere.
  • Particulate matter was declining, but climate emissions were unchecked.

Science in the 1980s

  • Internal studies regarding the relation of carbon emissions to global warming are performed.
  • Humans have a tremendous and very troubling impact on the environment.

UN Process and the Creation of the IPCC

  • Begin to propose policy proposals and protocols.
  • Kyoto Protocol and Paris Accords.

Week 6

Longform Analysis

  • Developing sustained analysis for researched essays; creating a more robust claim and a bigger argument.
  • Can be a challenging move; however, develop ideas, draw them out, let each step of process be drawn out.

Planning an Analysis Section

  • What is analysis? What are the steps necessary to create analysis?
  • What did you do in previous essays?

Building from the PIE Model

  • Point-Illustrate-Explain
  • Claim-Evidence-Reasoning-Evidence-Reasoning-etc.
  • Mirror the structure of an essay.
    • Introduce the source
    • Explain the context
    • Provide the evidence
    • Make your analysis
  • Don’t just rush through the steps; help the reader move through each of them in a sustained way.

Week 7

Longform Analysis Recap

  • Structuring analysis like an essay
    • Break your thinking into components
    • Walk your reader through your thought process

Section Writeup Feedback

  • Composition
    • Construct like an essay
    • Each section and each paragraph
  • Write the introduction last
  • Root every claim in a source
  • Explain source/evidence/analysis in detail
    • Explaining in excruciating detail; that’s what is needed as communicators.

Longform Analysis

  • Mirror the structure of an essay (mini-essay) in a paragraph.
    • Introduce source
    • Explain context
    • Provide evidence
    • Make your analysis
  • Each paragraph becomes a step in the process, designed to do something different.
  • Writing up the source; give the source the space it needs.


  • Specifics of problem/issue/question
    • Explain the “problem” - deserves further investigation.
    • Real world or practical problem, theoreitcal one, something else.
    • Data that raises questions
    • Place to establish the stakes of your claim
  • Scope of literature on the question
    • What have other scholars said on the question?
      • Core ideas of the debate - why is it insufficient?
    • What is being left out? What remaining problems emerge?
  • Usage of theory
    • Is there a new way to look at the question?
    • Is there a thinker, approach, or methodology that could provide new insights?
      • Define the theory
      • Explain its application to your work or problem
  • Your intervention
    • How do you enter / contribute to this conversation?
    • What is your claim? Explain in more detail your intervention
    • Stakes of the claim - why your question or intervention is significant.


  • How to unravel complex reality in writings?


  • Signposting: telling the reader exactly what is happening with the structure of the essay.
  • Leading into what else is needed.
  • Language may be clunky, but tells the reader what is changing.
  • Moving into [x new section].\

Technology & Identity: Alienation, Cyborgs, and the 21st Century


  • Alternative Series, Espen Kluge, 2019.
  • How should we understand the relationship between humans and machine? What explains this relationship? Where does power lie?
    • Technology - what is it and how should we define it?
    • Theories of technology - alienation and cyborg theory
    • Concepts of technology in visual art


  • Information used for a practical purpose
  • Relationship between people/society and a set of tools
  • Debate about tech focused, or person focused approach
  • Can social constructions be technology?

Two Theories of Technology

Second Industrial Revolution

  • Meaningful in many ways: so much of our current moment is structured by the industrial revolution.
  • Revolutionary in having ongoing impacts.

Marx’s Alienation and Industrial Labor

  • The rapidity of technological development.
  • Marxist theory of alienation, industrial labor.
  • Loss of control of individual laborers over their processes of labor.
  • Working to the pace of a machine - transforming the pacing of one’s own labor based on physical limitations.
  • The laborer loses the process of self-control.
  • Marx’s theory of alienation and control is not about the machinery, but about wages as a technology.
  • Wages are technologies of productivity, profitability, of alienation.

Wages and Labor Power

  • Exploitation and class struggle: the site for tensions and struggles, the root of class struggle.
  • Conflict over where the value of production goes - profits or wages.
  • Central antagonism Marx sees within industrial capitalism, unresolvable.
  • Exploitations and worker-employer tensions cannot be reconciled.
  • A key part of Marx’s overall theory of capitalism and class struggle.


  • Contribute to a process of alienation.
  • Alienation is a four-part process for people paid by the wage.
  • What is it that people are selling when they get paid for a wage? What is being exchanged?
  • People are paid property because others own the means of production.
  • “Labor power” - the capacity to work and to work harder.
    • To intently be productive.
    • The laborer sells their labor power, the intent production.
    • Labor power is variable.
  • People in wages become alienated from their work.
    • For them, they are alienated from the end result of the product they produce.
    • Chain of alienation.
  • Alienated from the final product, their own labor (betterness is taken away), from other workes, and their Gattungswesen.


  • Often translated as “species essence”.
  • If people are being alienated from the final product, their own labor, and other workers, they are profoundly socially isolated, and from themselves.
  • How do we define humans? By what we do, our labor.
  • The wage system alienated ourselves from our definitions of what makes us unique.

Haraway’s Cyborg Theory

  • What is a cyborg?
    • Hybridity between the organic and the inorganic.
    • A metaphor to think of social relationships.

      “Technology is not neutral. We’re inside of what we make, and it’s inside of us. We’re living in a world of connections - and it matters which ones get made and unmade.” -Donna Haraway

Antagonistic Dualisms

  • Opposites of dichotomies.
  • Argues against many of the constructions of feminism.
  • Lockean notions of mankind - how are men being defined?
    • Aggressiveness, competitiveness, etc.
    • In the cult of domesticity, women are defined as emotional, moral, nurturing.
  • This binary construction is not new.
  • Challenging feminist ideas about the social construction of women at all.
    • What defines womanhood?
  • Cybernetics: connections between mutliple and contradictory positions.

Feminist politics of identity

  • We need to think about cyborg relationships as waht defines these social categories.

End of three dichotomies

  • Human/Animal
  • Human/Machine
  • Physical/Nonphysical
  • These dichotomies are not helpful in thinking about how society and humankind works.
  • We exist inside our technology, in constant relationship with our technology. Natural experience can not be separate from our technological impacts and relationships.

The ghost in the machine

  • Obliquely references an old idea coming from the Enlightenment of the Ghost in the Machine.
  • A critique from theological thinkers of the critics of the Enlightenment, which was then adopted by Enlightenment thinkers.
  • As the scientific revolution unfolds and people explore their bodies as part of that scientific understanding, the brain is responsible for a whole series of human activity, desires, and so on.
  • There is a mechanical process of human existence animated by our conciousness.
  • We cannot be reduced to a mechanical process - does conciousness exist somewhere else?
  • Enlightenment philosophers could not quite understand human conciousness: there is an animating spirit, the ghost, magic, that makes the material world conscientious.
  • Sir Isaac Newton and gravity: the ghost in the machine of the physical world.
  • To think about how the physical universe works - mechanical and mathematical properties we can observe, test, and experiment, but there is a thing we know is there but cannot explain.
  • Human biology: conciosuness - how is our matter animated?, Newtonian physics: gravity.
  • This problem is less of a problem than it seems. A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, every entity as containing all language.


  • Marx, on social constructions and relations as a technology of power
  • Haraway, a radically different notion of technology as the ability to connect, see bridges, and transgress boundaries. A path forward.

Week 8

Section Writeup

  • A little bit messy - haggard, rough around the edges.
    • A good place to be.
  • Every assertion must be cited.
  • Sources
    • Make sure everything is cited
    • No “most people”, “some argue”, “we can see that…” without citation
  • Paragraph construction
    • Organize around a single source
    • Short and punchy with signposts
    • If in one paragraph you are moving between several sources, break up the paragraphs by source use.
      • One quote per paragraph.
  • Specificity
    • Use specific nouns and verbs
    • Think about specificity in language.

Beginnings and Endings

  • Write the introduction last; it is when the concepts of the paper are clearest to you and when you can est articulate concepts.
  • Introductions - all four need to be included, each in its paragraph.
    • Hook
    • Central question
    • Thesis/hypothesis
    • Roadmap
  • Conclusions
    • Argument
    • So what? - implications, what this ends up meaning.
  • Hourglass writing
    • Introduction narrows the reader’s focus
    • Conclusion broadens the narrower focus, throwing the ideas into the world.



  • Least essential component of the introduction. Stylistic thing - you can make your own choice.
    • Must interesting and expresses the core idea of the essay.
  • Purpose
    • Orients the reader to the project
    • Catches the reader’s attention
    • Expresses the argument
  • Types
    • Provocative quote as it relates directly to your claim
    • Question - we’re problem solvers, looking for answers. Getting some investment from the reader.
    • Problem - set up a problematic
    • Story - an account
    • First-person - how you perhaps came to the project

Frame the Question

  • State the central question of problematic for the essay (if you choose to include a clear articulation)
    • Ease the reader into understanding the stakes and the grounding.
    • Why is it meaningful? Where did it come from?
  • You don’t even have to explicitly state the question.
  • You have to explain the problematics and the grounding.
  • State the ultimate question, not necessarily the primary research question.
  • Convincing someone about something about the topic; the preliminary research question will not work. What is the why question driving this whole process? What is the ultimate curiosity that is building this paper?
  • Reverse engineer the question from your thesis.
    • Not why do [some specific phenomena happen], but why does [the ultimate phenomena] happen?

Thesis Statement

  • Answer to a why question - what is the solution to the problem? Give a detailed and specific thesis.
    • It will take space to tackle the thesis.
  • You need to let the topics breathe as you get into them.
  • Establish a causal relationship - make it specific. Not “racism caused x”, but exactly what aspect?
  • Explain the mechanics - how?
  • Points towards (gestures towards) a roadmap for the entire paper. If the thesis is multicausal, the paper should also have multiple corresponding sections.
  • Complex thesis - it takes space. Layer your claim. PIE your thesis statement - punchy, declarative sentences.
  • Allows for a layering of the claim - give piece-by-piece, what are the moving parts?


  • The roadmap provides the structure and organization for the rest of the essay.
  • Describe each section.
  • If you have a multi-paragraph thesis, it should be enough and the roadmap is not necessary.
  • The thesis is getting out the core elements of the claim, providing missing pieces of the essay that the layered part of the claim didn’t get into.

Conclusions and Implications

  • Implications specific to your field.
  • Conclusions allow you to be more political, philosophical, moral,
  • Implications - immediate next steps based on your thesis. What are the next steps?
    • Immediate questions or shortcomings
    • New problems
    • Unfinished portions of your work
    • Impact on the field.
  • Conclusions
    • Restate your argument - here is what has been argued.
    • Provide broader significance; not just why scholars should care, but why we as humans care?
    • Does this relate to a functioning democracy? Basic justice and morality?

Week 9

Section Writeup 3 Feedback

  • Focus on what you have: time to cut your losses
  • Signpost.
    • Use whole paragraphs to explain what each section does
    • Topic sentences and transition sentences to explain your moves
    • What does this paragraph or section do for the whole paper?
    • Take time in an introduction paragraph, for instance, to discuss what has been established and what will be pursued afterwards.
  • Keep writing from your analysis
    • Don’t worry about argument and length at this point.
  • At this stage, it gets practically very difficult to incorporate new ideas.
  • Threads may point in other directions that you can continue to pursue, but we’re out of time.
  • Implications: “in our next episode, we can pursue these threads.” Unfinished questions, interesting sources that cannot be fully explored, thinking in new directions.

Unraveling: Organizing and Expressing Complexity

  • George Orwell: language use to expression and articulation of ideas. Writing is convoluted, complex, uses mixed metaphors, is unclear - this reflects unclear thinking.

Explaining Complexity

  • How do you express a complex idea?
  • Writing language is extremely limited: linear, confined by “meaning”, imprecise, obscure.
  • Language is a challenging tool.
  • Writing as a way to express complexity is extremely limited.

Overcoming the linearity of language

  • Reality is complex: ow to express a complex reality in writing?

  • Clarify your understanding of reality. Conceptualize complex problems.
    • Idea map
    • Illustration/sketch
    • Word cloud
    • Radial chart
    • Venn diagram
  • Simplify and abstract your topic
  • Use theory to choose a frame of analysis
  • Identify a salient factor - singular factors.

  • Go to the source.
  • Pick a source that is most compelling.
  • Develop your analysis through asking questions.

  • Unraveling: the process for explaining complexity.
    1. Conceptualize the lived reality of your topic
    2. Simplify through abstraction or theory
    3. Go to source
    4. Break the source into component parts
    5. Write analysis through introduction, evidence, and explanation.

Revision: The Heart of Writing

What is it?

  • Process of strengthening a text
    • Clarify ideas
      • Claim
      • Organization
      • Transitions
    • Clarifying writing
      • Style / voice
      • Diction
      • Concision

A multipart process

  • Macro revisions
    • Thesis
    • Section organization
    • Paragraph order
    • Transitions
    • New writing
  • Micro revisions
    • Sentence structure
    • Diction
    • Concision
    • Style / voice
    • Adjectives / adverbs
  • Editing
    • Spelling
    • Grammar
    • Typographical errors
    • Errata
    • Footnotes

Revise your thesis

  • For God’s sake, revise your thesis!!!
  • Writing is thinking.
    • Conclusions have the clearest articulation of claims.
      • Make this claim your introduction.
    • Revise your thesis to reflect the specificity of your analysis
    • Think of the structure of your essay in your thesis
    • Don’t be afraid of a major reworking.

Micro Reworkings

  • Topic sentences
  • Sentence level corrections - clarity / flow / style / voicing
  • Paragraphs are mini-essays themselves