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Homework answers / question archive / L10: Question 2 Instructions: Write a question (or sets of related questions) about Updike’s podcast or Morgenson’s video

L10: Question 2 Instructions: Write a question (or sets of related questions) about Updike’s podcast or Morgenson’s video


L10: Question 2


Write a question (or sets of related questions) about Updike’s podcast or Morgenson’s video.

Topic: Your question can emerge from any aspect of the readings that interested you. I suggest asking about something that caught your attention and made you think or that genuinely confused you. While the focus is on either Morgenson or Updike, you are very welcome to put their ideas in conversation with Messick.

Development: Your question itself can be one or more sentence long, which means that most of your writing is going to be support. Give your question textual and conceptual context. In other words, make sure whomever is reading your question understands how it emerges from the text and make sure they also know what other key ideas might be connected to your question. Don’t just throw in a question all by itself, but rather develop it so that it makes sense. You are also welcome to identify what is motivating you to ask the question, if that is instructive for clarifying the question.

Treat this as an essay, using paragraphs to present distinct phases in your argument. It may help to think of your question as the thesis guiding the essay. However, it is usually easier to end with your question than start with it. You might need your whole development in place before you can make the question clear to your reader. Ultimately, organize your writing in whatever way is best for conveying your question.

Another option is to start with a simple question and then follow its threads. This might mean answering it, augmenting it, criticizing it, inverting it, complicating it, or doing whatever makes sense to expose a deeper question.


(1) Your question (in total, including developmental sentences) must be 600 to 800 words long. Please copy and paste your writing into the assignment forum as though you were posting an original post for a Discussion. In the same fashion, it will be due on Friday by 11:59 pm. However, the writing for this assignment should be that of an essay, not a discussion post. Treat the question like you would a thesis. 

(2) You must directly quote the podcast/video/reading at least twice. It might be easiest to use the transcripts of the podcast or video to help you find these quotes. Quotes will be included in your word count, but only up to 40 words (so long as you are using quotes of a reasonable length, you shouldn’t be worrying about this). Don’t forget to do a citation for each quote. A parenthetical citation is fine; e.g., Socrates said, “You are forever giving orders in a discussion, as spoiled people do, who behave like tyrants as long as they are young” (Plato, 76b).

(3) No outside sources are to be used, period. If you feel like you are struggling, don’t rush to an outside source. Struggle is common – philosophy is hard! Philosophy teachers expects to see some degree of struggle in their students’ work and grade accordingly.

Voice and Structure:

For writing assignments such as this, you should be using the first person ("I", "me") very sparingly. It should only be used when your argument itself demands the first person because of a particularly relevant and poignant personal experience that makes a specific point (this should be rare because anecdotal evidence is usually weak) or for emphasis (sometimes with the thesis or when contrasting your interpretation with someone else's). Other than those cases, everything you say when you start a sentence with something like "I believe that..." can be said without that initial phrase and carry the same weight. For example, if you were to write, "I feel that King wants to emphasize non-violence for practical reasons, not just ethical reasons," is sounds more objective and professional to just write, "King wants to emphasize non-violence for practical reasons, not just ethical reasons." Be assertive, and the reader knows it is coming from you because you are writing it.

For your posts in the (almost) weekly discussion forums, this isn't a big deal because this writing isn't graded on content. What matters is your engagement with the ideas. But for a more formal assignment like the Question assignments where you are graded on content, a more professional writing voice is needed. 

The same principle applies to the structure of your assignments. Rather than just a list of ideas that follow your thinking, which is fine for the forums, the Question assignments should have a proper essay format. This is not just for the sake of following rules. It is because the structure of an introduction, development, and conclusion allow you to showcase your question/thesis, how your reasoning supports it, and how the all of the pieces come together. This is important for your reader, and you should always have your reader's understanding in mind.

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