Advice on SC papers

From CCE wiki archived
Jump to: navigation, search
  • Treat as many of the readings as possible. Each SC paper covers about five weeks, i.e. around 15 assigned readings plus those you selected on your own. You certainly don't have to mention every single paper within this set of around 20 (and I much prefer an intelligent treatment to "name dropping"), but do try to work as many as possible--meaningfully--into your SC.
  • Focus on the operation of SC - don't summarize articles more than required to make your points clear.
  • Don't neglect a critical approach (i.e. treat articles as "sources" rather than "references"). Problematize any distinctions or concepts authors use uncritically (e.g. "sacred/secular", "experience/theory", "orthodox"). Ask questions. How can what each author says be made more true by adding qualifications to the arguments? You might choose to devote an entire section of your SC to an explicit critical review (treating such things as method, theoretical perspective, insider/outsider dynamics, position within the history of ideas, etc.), or you can scatter your explicit criticism throughout; either way, constant critical vigilance is best.
  • Synthesize by comparing and contrasting, locating common threads, and attempting to formulate more general emergent themes. It helps to make identify a list of themes or topics; each becomes a lens through which you can regard a subset of the readings. The same articles may recur in more than one section--in fact this is a good thing--but don't allow your entire paper to be dominated by only one or two.
  • Stay close to the readings. Don't make general statements about music and religion without backing them up, providing nuance.
  • Keeping the above points in mind, you may be as creative as you like. Feel free to introduce your own ideas into the mix.