Commentaries should be 600-700 words in length. Commentaries can be longer than this, but do try to keep them under control!
GENERAL FORMAT:Commentaries should begin with a basic introduction indicating which of the topics you intend to address, be it the class discussions, a podcast or linked source, or some real-world issue directly related to these.COMMENTARY CRITERIA:
A. What the Commentaries are:1. Each of the commentary entries should be viewed as a careful and thoughtful response, in your own words, to one of the class discussions, podcasts, or the like. The whole purpose of the commentaries is for you to be able to do a bit of critical thinking and reflection on your own, without the discussions of the class that may distract you. Some of us do our best thinking without the noise of discussion (even if it’s online). Also, sometimes we might have a conversation, and only later think of a great response. This is your chance to give that response.2. The commentaries need to be focused and on topic. Even though these are your commentaries, it does need to be on point.
B. What the Commentaries are not: 1. The commentaries are nota summary or recap or minutes of the course, either from the podcasts, or from the class discussions. I know what we have covered in the course, and so there is no need to tell me, point by point, what I already know. Tell me what I don’t know, which is what you think about the material covered in the podcasts, class discussions, etc. Reaction and reflection are the key ideas here. 2. The commentaries are not an opportunity for you to allow others to think for you. These are your commentaries, and I only want to hear from your mind. As such, outside sources are highly discouraged, and of course, plagiarism of any sort will result in failure.
3. While the commentary is to be the work of your own mind, it is not just a free-form jazz exploration about just any old thing in the world. In other words, don’t use the commentaries to talk about general things not directly related to the text readings or class discussions (much less philosophy in general), such as your complaints about a noisy neighbor, or your plans to watch some television show with your friends, or the fact that you went shopping for a new gadget and were happy because it was on sale, or unhappy because it wasn’t. (These are all examples of [actual] bad commentaries I’ve gotten in the past. They didn’t end prettily . . .)COMMENTARY GRADING:Commentaries will be graded for adherence to the guidelines, clarity of thought, precision of language, pertinence to the stated objective, and of course, academic integrity. In other words, are your commentaries submitted on time and in good order? Do your commentaries get right to the point? Once they have gotten to the point, do they stay on target? Are they well-considered and well-crafted? Are they actually your work? Do they demonstrate that you are capable of critical thought and reflection? Do they cause the grumpy professor to split a gut and spew coffee through his nose with laughter? (Okay, that last part isn’t really one of the criteria, but humor is always nice, if you can pull it off in style
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