About Wikipedia, SparkNotes, Cliffs Notes, Gradesaver, etc.
Avoid citing Wikipedia, SparkNotes, Cliffs Notes, Gradesaver, and other such sites in academic essays. Since Wikipedia is not edited by reputable experts, it often has errors and isn't reliable. It's okay to use it as a starting point for your own research, but go on and find other sources to verify the information, and cite those in your essay.
The other sites, SparkNotes, etc., are elementary sites with simple information that doesn't dig too deep. Professors think of them as "cheat" sites: people who are too lazy to read the book look at the plot summaries on SparkNotes. People who are too lazy to think and do their own analysis get all their ideas from Cliffs Notes and Gradesaver.
Like Wikipedia, these sites have their uses; they can be a good place to get started if you are totally lost. But please don't stop there: go find more academic and challenging sources. And for Heaven's sake, DO NOT cite them in your Works Cited list if you want your professors to take you seriously.
How to submit your work
Your essays will be submitted to me via e-mail. Write your assignments in your word processing program. PLEASE SAVE YOUR FILE AS EITHER A WORD FILE OR AN RTF FILE. Then attach that file to your e-mail message. When sending assignments, your e-mail message should include your name, the class number (English 102), and the name of the assignment which is attached.
Use correct MLA format for the appearance of your essay and your documentation.
Eliminate spelling, grammar, and other mechanical errors from your writing.
Send your e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: always keep copies of all of your assignments. If there is a problem with e-mail, you will need that copy to re-send for credit.
Writing Assignment 1--The Short Story
Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Your thesis statement must be clear, precise and explicit. Support your thesis with specific details, examples, and direct quotes from the stories. An essay which does not include direct quotes from the story cannot receive a grade higher than a C. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words). Be sure to include a Works Cited list. Use correct MLA format and citation techniques in your essay and your Works Cited list. Maximum points possible: 100.
This assignment is due Thursday, June 29.
1. Choose one of the following stories. What is it saying about the difference between reality and perception?
- "The Tell-tale Heart"
- "A Rose For Emily"
- "A Rose For Emily"
- "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"
- "A Rose For Emily"
- "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"
- "The Things They Carried"
- "Two Questions"
- the Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho.
- the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico.
- the Condom Museum in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
- the Bunny Museum in Pasadena, California.
- the Salabh International Toilet Mueum in New Delhi, India.
- the Museum of Clean in Pocatello, Idaho.
- the National Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
- the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia just outside of San Francisco.
- Leila's Hair Museum in Independence, Missouri.
- The Thing Museum in Dragoon, Arizona.
2. Choose one of the following stories. What is it saying about tradition?
3. Choose one of the following stories. What social or political point(s) is it making?
4. Some critics argue that graphic fiction cannot be considered "literary" literature; that its purpose is only entertainment. Others disagree. Reread the first part of Lecture 1, on the differences between literature with a little "l", and Literature with a capital "L". Then choose one of the graphic stories we read (Maus, Persepolis, or Two Questions) and explain why it should be considered literature with a little "l", or Literature with a capital "L".
For help writing this assignment, see the models in your book, go to Writing About Literature, or contact me.
Writing Assignment 2--The Station Eleven Museum Project and Research Paper
Read the directions carefully. There are several steps; be sure you don't miss anything.
This assignment is worth up to 220 points per student. It is the major assignment of the semester. You cannot pass the class if you do not complete this project. Start early; work smartly and steadily.
Welcome to Concourse C
In Station Eleven, Clark began The Museum of Civilization because he wanted to preserve the memory of what came Before. His goal with The Museum of Civilization was to preserve civilization, and he put the artifacts in context--that is, he explained their role in life Before.
A museum is an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary.
Museums are different from collections. A museum displays its items to the public. A collection may be kept private.
An artifact is an object made by a human being, typically an item of cultural or historical interest.
A curator is a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection. A curator is more than someone who dusts off the objects and artifacts, however. A curator's job is to assemble, catalogue, and decide how to display the items to the public. The curator researches the field to see what is important and what is available, chooses what to buy, arranges for funding, applies for loans and grants, negotiates sales, arranges for any necessary restoration of the artifacts or objects, chooses how to exhibit the items, arranges for security, hires employees, promotes the exhibit, and anything else that needs to be done. In other words, a curator is the person who is ultimately responsible for the success of the museum.
Once you start looking for them, museums are everywhere. Some are the ones we usually think of: the L.A. County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the Art Institute in Chicago; the Louvre in Paris; and more.
Others are smaller or less traditional, and some are downright strange:
And there are hundreds more. People of all types create and maintain museums which express and exhibit their interests. I have been to many, but my one of my favorites is The Museum of Jurassic Technology on Venice Blvd. in Culver City, CA (I will mention it again, and possibly again).
The Museum Project: To Begin
Create your own museum.
You don't actually have to lease a property, collect items and display them; this will be a virtual museum. But you need to plan the museum which will preserve and display some set of artifacts that represent some aspect of civilization.
Choose the topic for your museum. Do you love old cars? Musical instruments? Rocks and minerals? Gems? Dolls? Stuffed animals? Tractors? Noodles? Nail polish? It can be anything.
To make this project interesting, you should choose something you have a genuine interest in, an interest you want to share.
Aside from that, you may find that the term "museum" has a lot of latitude. Is a collection of wax replicas of famous human beings a "museum"? Is the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland a museum? Is a library a museum? Is Graceland a museum? These may be questions you need to consider, depending on what you choose to exhibit.
The Various Steps
- Visit a museum. Due date: any time before Thursday, July 6. 10 points. Take a picture of the ticket, or of yourself at the museum, and email it to me to prove you went. This is a requirement for everyone doing this project. YOU select the museum you want.
If there's a museum similar to the one you want to start, even better: go visit it. Want to start a children's museum? Go see a couple of them and see what they've done. Think about what works. Think about what you would do differently.
You need to visit a museum any time before the Proposal is due. While you're there, talk to a docent (or if you are lucky, a curator); that would be a wonderful source.
And here's great resource: Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders, by Lawrence Wechsler; the first half of the book is on the history of and nature of museums. The second half is on the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a quirky and wonderful museum on Venice Blvd. in Culver City. I strongly recommend that you go visit this museum--it's an amazing experience. Here's a link for more information:
The Museum of Jurassic Technology
- Create a Project Proposal and submit it for approval (all Projects require Proposal approval).
Due Date: Thursday, July 6. 10 points.
Look at the directions below to see what is specifically required for the Museum Project Proposal. You will need to turn this in BEFORE the final project. This is worth a maximum of 10 points.
- Create a Research Paper showing what you researched and how you will use the information.
Due date: Wednesday, July 19. 100 points.
For example, if you are going to create a museum on nail polish, you'll need to do some research on nail polish: who invented it? Where? Are there any examples or pictures of ancient nail polishes? How did nail polish change over the years? What is different about today's nail polish? And so forth. You will turn this in before the final project, so be sure to check the Schedule for the due date. The research paper should be a minimum of four pages and use at least three secondary sources (nothing like Wikipedia, please). The last (fifth) page of the research paper will be an MLA-format Works Cited page. This is worth a maximum of 100 points.
- Create a Final Project.
Due Date: Thursday, July 27. 100 points.
This will give an overview of your museum, including a floor plan, a list of key artifacts in different sections of the museum, and a guided tour. This is worth a maximum of 100 points.
You may present this project in several ways: you may write a traditional paper with the necessary illustrations; you may create a PowerPoint presentation with audio and video, as appropriate; you may create a website or Wordpress site with audio and video, as appropriate; you may create a video (with a written script which you'll turn in, along with a Works Cited list). If you have some other idea for the presentation, please check it with me first.
Your research and all sources must be documented, and you must include a Works Cited list. (This may be in the form of credits at the end of a video, but it has to be there in some form.)
Here's a link to a sample Wordpress site of the sort you might want to consider doing. This is the site of an actual college student, and it's not on museums, but on Los Angeles and people who make up a particular facet of it (sort of a museum of people).
As you can see, the writer includes all of the required parts of the project you need to do: an introduction which explains her unifying theme and her choices (on the opening page and on the "About This Site" page); sections on each of the people she chose to include, with direct quotes from her sources and citations which identify the sources; and a Works Cited list. She also includes a list of related links; this is cool, but not required.
Other sample projects can be found in the Resources section on ETUDES.
The Proposal is REQUIRED
Before you spend a great deal of time on the research, the invention, the writing, you will need to get a Project Proposal approved by me. Be sure you check the due date on the Class Schedule.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: I will not accept your final project if you have not had the Project Proposal approved. Then things roll down hill in a very unfortunate way--you will not get a score for this 200-point paper; you will not pass the class.
The proposal itself is not hard, but it does require you to have given some serious thought to the subject of your museum, and to have done some research into the possibilities, so you know what is available. It must include:
- A project title (it can certainly change)
- An overview of your project as you envision it.
- The museum's Mission Statement.
- Preliminary research into the artifacts you will display.
Be sure to think carefully about your museum. Think especially about scope: keep it narrow. You can't do a museum on the entire history of the NBA, or your research papeer will have to be about 1000 pages long! Choose a small topic and delve into it very deeply and in great detail.
A couple of years ago, I had a student propose a museum of weapons. But that would be huge! All weapons, from sticks and stones used in prehistoric times to nuclear weapons and chemical weapons and guns and cannons and swords...you get the idea. It's an impossibly large topic, and the research paper to go with it would have to be 5000 pages long. Smaller is better. You need a specific mission: what do you want to show the public? What do you want them to learn? What is the point of remembering or seeing all of these artifacts you have collected into one place?
And make sure this is something people will care about enough to drive across town to see it. If you just want to show a collection of clips from rock concerts, then I could go on YouTube to see that--I don't have to drive across town and pay an entrance fee. So make sure that what you create provides a real experience for people, gives them some knowledge they can't get from sitting in front of a computer. At the Museum of Tolerance, for example, when you arrive, you are given a card with the name of a real person on it. As you go through the exibit, you get to see what happened to that person.
The Titanic exhibit did something similar: we were given the name of a passenger who was really on the Titanic, with a bit of biograhical information, and as we went through the exhibits, we could see how that person travelled: first class, second class, steerage, etc. Then at the end, we could check the board and see if they survived or not. (Mine did; my husband's didn't.)
The new Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles lets you make a custom flavor for yourself.
You get the idea.
A Sample Museum Proposal can be found by clicking on the following link:
Sample Museum Proposal
and also in the Resources section on ETUDES. Be sure to look at this before you turn in your own proposal.
Research in General
In general, research begins with a search for information on your topic and your particular focus. For instance, you may search "museum funding," "museum curation," etc. What can you find on the internet? What can you find in books in libraries? In journals and databases? At this point, you aren't choosing the information you'll use; you are simply surveying the information that is available. Look at all sources. You will not be able to read everything that's been written, but read as much as you can, to get an idea of the range of information that is available to you.
Although you are not allowed to use Wikipedia in your essay, you can read it for ideas and information at this point. Wikipedia is often a good place to start, just to get ideas. But then move on from there to more reliable, professional sources. There are plenty of such resources available to you on the Internet and in the college's books and databases. There are also public libraries. Although they tend not to have much academic research information, they might just have what you are looking for on the topic you have chosen for your museum, for instance.
LAHC Library Research
As long as you're registered at LA Harbor College, you have access to a number of databases through the Harbor College library. Those databases have tons of articles on all subjects from many periodicals, including professional and scholarly journals. You can access the databases from the following link; from there, just follow the directions to log into the system:
The most effective way to search these databases is to use the "keyword" option at first, to get the broadest search results.
For example: let's say I want to create a museum about old cars, from 1968 back to the beginning. (That's too broad, but for now, I'm just exploring. Eventually, I will narrow this down.)
I would go to the databases main page and try one of the unspecialized databases, "All EBSCO Databases." This would take me to a page which asks which database I would like to use. I would click "Select All" and then click "Continue." This would take me to a page with search boxes. In the main search box, I would type in "antique cars" and leave everything else blank. The first search would produce over 10,000 results. Lots of these will be useless, of course, but some may be of help. There's an article on a classic car museum in Canton, Ohio, for example, and articles on classic car auctions in various places (that could help with acquisitions). To narrow your results, you can add search words to the other boxes as well. You will probably find many more articles than you need. That's okay--it just gives you lots of choices. Eventually, I will discover that I am fascinated by the Duesenberg, and I will narrow my search to find information just on that car and its makers.
Don't forget books; books are good!
Depending on your topic, there may have been books written about your area of interest, as well. To find books on your subject, search the LAHC book catalog. Go to the LAHC Library page and click on the "Search Library Catalog" link. (There's also a link to click if you're off-campus.)
Please feel free to contact me or the librarians if you need help navigating the databases or catalog.