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Advanced Writing: Social Sciences

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Week 01: Introduction / Orientation

Descriptive Writing:
Incident Report

Assignments for the Week

Day 01 -- Tuesday 22 January 2002


  1. Registration check

  2. Student Information Survey

  3. Writing exercise (audience = self; purpose = diary entry):

    • Introduction to You: Meet Yourselves
    • Why am I in this class?
    • What do you expect to get out of this class?
    • What would you like to know about your profs?

  4. Introduction and overview, including an overview of Web Syllabus

Day 02 -- Tursday 22 January 2002


  1. Review of course structure, goals, and objectives

  2. What is descriptive writing?

    • Paradigm On-line Writing Assistant
      • go to "Discovering"
      • go to "Observing and Recording Details" (use lefthand elevator button)
      • then go to the "Journalist's Questions": Who, What, When, How, Where and Why

        • Who, What, When, and Where tend to be descriptive questions, and the things you should focus on when writing your report for Project #1
          • The focus of this exercise will be Who, What, When, and Where
          • Of course, you can talk about How when describing how something is occurring in the video

        • How and Why tend to be analytical questions. We will deal with the How and Why of analysis in Project #4: Analytical Speech"
          • This is How in the sense of how things came to be, how things work, how it is that people don't get along together. . . . It's an analytical how.

  3. Video of an unusual social situation with which you are probably unfamiliar. During the video take notes on what you see.


    some UMD students who have not seen the video

    description -- pure description, NO evaluation or analysis

    Aim/Goal: to give a detailed enough account of the action that some people who have not seen the video could possibly re-enact the action in a student UMD Theatre production

    Time Sequence, T1 ---> T2 ---> T3 ---> T4 ---> . . .

    (In this case T1, etc., can equal scenes in the video)

  1. Remarks on Paul Buffalo, Ch. 31 "An Indian Curing Ceremony"

  2. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to sit down and expand on your notes and as soon as possible after you have taken them. (If you are working on an interview rather than looking at video -- as you will be doing for Project #2 -- go somewhere close by immediately after the interview and write up your notes.) Expanding on your notes is especially important if you can not see the video a second time, or if you did not tape an interview, or if you were not able to take notes during a real-life incident.

    So . . . it would be a good idea if, as soon as possible after class as you possibly can, you sit down somewhere and expand on your notes from the video seen today in class.

  1. Project #1, will be graded P/N only.

After Project #1 (i.e., for Projects #2, #3, #4, and #5) your papers will received other grades/evaluations.

  1. Prepare bibliography and note cards on the video seen in class. Make (1) a bibliography card, and (2) several note cards on 4 x 6 or 3 x 5 cards [or recycled paper of the same size].

Here is the information from the UMD Library that you need:

    English Title: Every Man for Himself and God Against All: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

    Original Title: Jeder für Sich und Gott gegen Alle

    General Note: 1975 motion picture released in the U.S. by Cinema V.; eine Werner Herzog filmproduktion

    General Note: German dialogue with English subtitles

    Credits: Producer, director and script, Werner Herzog ; camera, Jorg Schmidt-Reitwein ; film editor, Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus

    Herzog, Werner, 1942-

    Performers: Bruno S., Walter Ladengast, Brigitte Mira.

    Abstract: Based on the true story of a young man who appeared in a small German town in the1820s [1828], after having lived in total isolation from humans since birth. He was taught to speak, read and write by the townspeople, then was mysteriously murdered.

    Personal subject: Hauser, Kaspar, 1812-1833

    Subject: Feature films

    Personal author: Herzog, Werner, 1942- Jeder für Sich und Gott gegen Alle

    UMD Library Accession Number: VC 636

    See The New St. Martin's Handbook, §42a.1 for information on and samples of bibliography cards.

    On the note cards briefly summarize/paraphrase one or more selections from the video (100 to 150 words).

    Do this as if you were taking notes for a 5000-level term paper.

    Note how the video presents aspects of a culture, and how you might describe these for persons unfamiliar with the culture.

    On your note cards you must also include your personal reaction / evaluation as a separate section on each card.

    See §42c. for examples of note cards, and information on how to prepare the note cards.

    Put your name on each card before you hand it in. Write on only one side of each card. Turn these cards in next class meeting. (bibliography card and note cards)

  1. Review Handbook assignments
      • Ch. 51 "Designing Documents"
        • Look at Section 51.e. "Sample Documents"
      • Ch. 01 "Writing, Reading, Research"
      • Ch. 02 "Considering Rhetorical Situation"

  1. CD-ROM demonstration (time permitting)

Next Week

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