SOCI 2110h: Writing assignments
You will complete two short assignments (around 1000-1200 words in length). -Each paper must focus on a different theorist.
-In each, you must make specific and substantive reference to at least one of the original texts of the theorist(s) you are discussing, as provided to you through the required or recommended course readings (in other words, you cannot do a good job on these assignments if you rely only on texts that talk about other peoples’ theories, such as those by Adams and Sydie, Seidman, Law, etc.). This will usually require you to read beyond the short extracts discussed in class.
-For most options, you will be expected to incorporate some additional resources. These might be newspaper or magazine articles that set out your issue or topic, academic books or articles that have discussed this issue, or, where directed, a film or other media source. Be sure to review the list of recommended supplementary resources for this course – you will find some good suggestions there for secondary texts and websites to get you started.
-The first paper is due on February 28, is worth 20% and must focus on a classical theorist (Comte, Martineau, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel).
-The second paper is due on March 28, is worth 25% and may focus on any theorist from the syllabus (or the additional list in option 4). You are expected to pay attention to feedback on your first paper when working on your second paper.
-For each paper, you will be assessed on the accuracy of your understanding of the theory you have chosen, your ability to imaginatively apply it to a concrete issue or example and your ability to clearly communicate your ideas in writing. While you may be as creative as you like, keep in mind that you’ll still be graded primarily on your understanding of the theory and the quality of your writing.
-Choose a different option for each paper.
1. Film review: watch either Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. Write a review in the voice of one of the theorists we have discussed. If relevant, you can provide a brief comment on the review in the voice of a different theorist [hint: think about writing in the style of a review on Rotten Tomatoes, with the second theorist’s response in the form of a ‘comment’].
2. A major gallery is mounting an exhibition around the theme of ‘modernity’ and has invited a number of sociological theorists, both living and dead, to choose a photograph or other visual image that they think represents this theme, and to write a short essay on it for the exhibition catalogue. Choose the image and write the essay for the theorist of your choice (from any we have covered in this course).
3. As suggested in class, sociological theory can help us understand how even the most mundane everyday things can be understood as shaped by social connections and imbued with social meanings. Choose one of the following and provide a sociological analysis from the perspective of one of the theorists we have discussed:
a) designer jeans b) smart phones
c) artisanal coffeed) fast-food hamburgerse) activity trackers (such as FitBits)f) social media (such as Facebook or Instagram)
4. In a half-course, a lot of theorists and theories get left out. Choose one of the following theorists and write a short paper that locates their work within some of the broader themes we’ve discussed, and outlines their main contributions and important critiques (if relevant) of their work. Most of the recommended secondary texts have overview chapters that will help get you started here, and your instructor is happy to recommend others, but you will also need to make substantive reference to at least one of the theorist’s original texts that you think is exemplary (you may need to seek these out – please do not hesitate to ask for help):
Georg Simmel (paper #1 only) Marianne Weber (paper #1 only) Zygmunt Bauman (paper #2 only) Ulrich Beck (paper #2 only) Manuel Castells (paper #2 only)
5. Design your own assignment (this option requires advance permission – you must receive approval no later than 2 weeks in advance of the due date for the paper). In consultation with your instructor, craft an option that permits you to apply the work of a theorist discussed in this course to a topic or example of particular interest. This should be considered an advanced option. If you have been inspired by something covered in another course, be sure to get explicit permission of both instructors and be meticulous in citation of your ideas.