ears ago, I did the same writing assignment that I am asking you to do this semester: I wrote a ten page, researched, documented, argumentative paper about George Orwell's 1984. Different versions of that paper were published in The Revised Orwell and Advances in Systemic Linguistics.
Origins of my Paper
wo years before beginning to write 1984, Orwell published a famous essay on how clarity of writing and clear thinking were intertwined. In "Politics and the English Language," Orwell examines several ways that muddy thinking leads to muddied writing and vice versa. He concludes by emphasizing the role of clear writing in public discourse, such as political discourse, and how (too) often people are deceived and manipulated by discourse that is designed to hide, rather than reveal, truth. Orwell concludes his essay with six rules for clear writing, including "iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active."
owever, as I began to read 1984, I immediately noticed that Orwell breaks his own rule about passive voice consistently and constantly throughout the novel. This apparent contradiction between Orwell's writing style in 1984 and his own rules for good writing, published only two years earlier, became the source of my research interest in my paper.
How to Write a Proposal
roposals often have a "movement" within them, from a very general range of ideas to a much more specific, single research idea at the end. The idea is to provide some (general) background ideas at the beginning ideas that will establish the context for the specific research topic later. Notice, for instance, that in the first sentence of the example below, I mention the wide range of ideas that are relevant to the study of the novel, sociological, political, cultural, historical, literary, and linguistic. In the second sentence, I pick up on only one of those ideas, linguistic criticism, and I begin to narrow my research area.
The third and fourth sentences further narrow the scope of linguistic criticism to just Orwell's literary language. In the second paragraph, I present my research topic, having narrowed the scope my subject and given enough background information. My proposal ends by my mentioning the two interrelated objectives of my research. Often proposals use questions as a way to frame the research topic. For example, I could have written my research idea in the form of a question as well: Why did Orwell use a writing style in the novel that seemed to contradict his own ideas about clear writing and good style?
My Paper Proposal as an Example
elow are the working title and text of my original paper proposal.
Orwell's Use of Agency in 1984
The critical response to George Orwell's 1984 covers an enormous span of issues: sociological, political, cultural, historical, literary, and linguistic. The linguistic criticism of 1984 has focuses primarily on Newspeak as a language and on Orwell's ideas about the relationship between language and thought. Literary and linguistic critics of 1984 have largely ignored, however, Orwell's literary language, i.e., the language Orwell uses in writing 1984. Indeed, the few critical remarks about Orwell's writing style and use of language have generally been negative attributing the dull, monotonous, dry writing style to Orwell's career as a journalist.
I believe that those critical responses to Orwell's writing style are wrong-headed. Orwell was keenly sensitive to writing style and to the emotive and persuasive power of language, as can be seen in his essays particularly "Politics and the English Language." In my research paper, I want to show (1) that Orwell's writing style was a carefully constructed complex of various linguistic features of English and (2) that his writing style contributes importantly to the underlying themes in the novel.
Sample ENC 1101 & 1102 Discussion Thread
Below is a sample completed discussion thread from a former student. Students were given a topic to discuss from the readings (the supervisory relationship) and relay it to their own personal lives. I have included the sample topic followed by the initial response given by a student (Jason). For the “Student 1 (Jason)” response, I have also included his responses to two of his peers’ posts from the discussion thread.
Instructor Post: The last couple of weeks, our readings have focused on factors that affect the supervisor-employee relationship. What are the key lessons or strategies you will take from these readings as you approach the task of establishing a supervisory relationship with future employees?
Student #1 (Jason) - Initial Response to the Post
Since professional development is a lifelong process, I think the supervisor and employee relationship is essential. Supervisors do not only supervise the development of specific skills, but need to be supportive of the employee by learning how to be a supportive. That is, learning how to learn and to feel comfortable engaging in supervision is a skill in and of itself, and one that I believe can only be fostered in a positive supervisor/employee relationship. In the readings, they discuss behaviors and attributes that predict the supervisor alliance (i.e., interpersonal style, use of power, use of self-disclosure, ethical behavior, attachment style and evaluative practice), all of which I hope to consider when I become a supervisor. As I reflect on my own experiences as a employee I know all six of these have impacted my relationships with my supervisors. For example, self-disclosure stories about mistakes made by my supervisor helped me feel more comfortable sharing and accepting my own mistakes while learning how to handle when mistakes occur. Also, as a supervisor, I would be especially mindful about how to create an effective system to provide feedback, which may vary depending on the supervisee’s style. My aim would be to provide constructive feedback that leads to behavior change, while maintaining a positive relationship. The readings taught me how employees and supervisors react and manage feelings of shame and anxiety, which directly impact employee behaviors. I believe that supervisor’s should make effort within the limitations of the supervisory relationship to ameliorate such negative feelings and recognize when their own behavior as a supervisor is affecting the employee negatively.
Student 1(Jason) Reply to 1st Peer Student’s Post
I agree with your post. My past supervisors have also done many things that I feel enhanced our relationship. One thing that I have appreciated is having a standing meeting time with my supervisor. This has made me feel as though my supervisor has enough time to devote to the supervisory relationship, and that they value having an employee. I have also appreciated when supervisors take the time to personally introduce me to other staff members. I had one supervisor who did this every time that I took on a new case, and this always made me feel much more comfortable and reduced my anxiety about starting a new case.
Student 1 (Jason) Reply to 2nd Peer Student’s Post
I agree that feeling valued is critical. I also think I will try to use your supervisor’s strategy of introducing my employees to teachers when I am placed is that position. In addition to having a standing meeting time, my first supervisor always encouraged me to seek him out or to ask questions when I needed to, just like your supervisor. He always reinforced my asking so that I never felt like I was getting in the way. I can see that the best supervisory relationships that you have been a part of have been ones in which your supervisor valued your assistance and truly enjoyed having you as an employee.