27 Unit 3 – Discussions

Discussion – Short Fiction: Database Dive

Distinguish Between Primary and Secondary Sources

1. Introduction

Whether conducting research in the social sciences, humanities (especially history), arts, or natural sciences, the ability to distinguish between primary and secondary source material is essential. Basically, this distinction illustrates the degree to which the author of a piece is removed from the actual event being described, informing the reader as to whether the author is reporting impressions first hand (or is first to record these immediately following an event), or conveying the experiences and opinions of others—that is, second hand.

2. Primary Sources

These are contemporary accounts of an event, written by someone who experienced or witnessed the event in question. These original documents (i.e., they are not about another document or account) are often diaries, letters, memoirs, journals, speeches, manuscripts, interviews and other such unpublished works. They may also include published pieces such as newspaper or magazine articles (as long as they are written soon after the fact and not as historical accounts), photographs, audio or video recordings, research reports in the natural or social sciences, or original literary or theatrical works.

3. Secondary Sources

The function of these is to interpret primary sources, and so can be described as at least one step removed from the event or phenomenon under review. Secondary source materials, then, interpret, assign value to, conjecture upon, and draw conclusions about the events reported in primary sources. These are usually in the form of published works such as journal articles or books, but may include radio or television documentaries, or conference proceedings.

4. Defining Questions

When evaluating primary or secondary sources, the following questions might be asked to help ascertain the nature and value of material being considered:

  • Where does this information come from – personal experience, eyewitness accounts, or reports written by others?
  • Are the author’s conclusions based on a single piece of evidence, or have many sources been taken into account (e.g., diary entries, along with third-party eyewitness accounts, impressions of contemporaries, newspaper accounts)?

5. Assignment

This week you have been provided with two primary sources – “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Women of the 19th Century.” To complete this week’s Database Dive, please do the following:

  1. Read “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Women of the 19th Century.”
  2. Using the library databases, find a secondary source on either text and read it.
  3. In one paragraph, explain the main idea of the secondary source.
  4. In 2-3 paragraphs, using the primary texts, explain two examples that either support or refute the main claim of the secondary text.

Module 8: Short Fiction II

Discussion – Short Fiction: Close Reading

James Joyce’s short story “The Dead” closes his collection of short fiction, Dubliners. The entire story takes place within the space of a party. The main character, Gabriel, connects many family members and friends, but it’s an encounter with someone he never met, and will never meet, that ends up defining his evening.

For your first response, please do the following:

  1. Historicism – Give at least two examples of Irish history, culture, or politics a reader must know to understand this story. Cite your sources.
  2. Feminism – Throughout “The Dead,” Gabriel is sometimes threatened by powerful women characters. Choose one of the women characters and discuss what concepts of feminist criticism can be explained through Gabriel’s encounter with her.
  3. Marxism – How is class important to understanding the conclusion of “The Dead?”

Module 9: Novel Part I

Discussion – The Novel: Close Reading

For this assignment, you will create a lesson to teach your classmates about some aspect of the novel you are reading. This week, you will plan your lesson. You may not be completely finished reading the novel, but you can still be planning as you go. Here are the steps:

  1. Read the novel carefully.
  2. Identify some aspect of the theme that you think is important to understanding the novel. Write an analysis question you will answer in your lesson. It can relate to history, class, gender, psychology, or some other observation you want to make about the novel.
  3. Choose one scene you will analyze in your lesson and explain how it relates to your question.
  4. Post the question and the explanation of the scene.
  5. Explain your plans for your lesson. Will you use a PowerPoint? Prezi? Create a video lecture? Create an interactive assignment? What other resources will you use to teach your classmates about this novel?

Module 10: Novel Part II

Discussion – The Novel: Teach a Lesson

This week you will post your lesson! To complete the assignment, follow these steps:

  1. Finish reading the novel (if you haven’t already).
  2. Answer the question about the novel you posed last week.
  3. Choose one additional scene to analyze.
  4. Create your lesson and post it online. If you create a narrated Power Point you an upload and attachment. If you create an activity and description, you can post it as text. If you create a video, a link or an upload is fine.

The lesson should take at least 5 minutes to complete. That means, a video or narrated PowerPoint would run five minutes. An activity and description should be 350+ words.

For examples of lesson activities, you can use any of the assignments you’ve encountered in this course so far, but don’t copy them exactly. If you choose to design an activity, include three paragraphs of writing that explains how the activity works and how it would get your students to understand the novel.


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