Tag Archives: key terms

Key Terms, Spring 2018

Key Terms

Amid a complicated tangle of lexicon terms — structure, motive, thesis and so on — key terms often get left in the dust. They are overlooked as merely the necessary means to convey information; however, key terms are much more than a linguistic convenience.

Most importantly, key terms signal the subject matter of an argument and the discipline(s) within which it is operating. They represent a microcosm of the relevant scholarly conversation, where
an individual term can allude to an entire body of scholarship. When strategically placed throughout the structures of the essay, key terms keep the argument on track and help guide the reader through new points. Motive can rely on key terms in some cases: Why is a certain term important for understanding a particular concept or theory? In what ways do scholars define a term? Is there tension between the definitions of a term or in the arguments revolving around it? One can even think of key terms as algebraic variables: If they are well-defined, then they can be cleverly and clearly manipulated in the thesis like x and y in an equation.

We often conceive of our essays in terms of our theses, but this is just as possible to do so with our key terms. Indeed, paying closer attention to key terms can sometimes lead to innovative arguments or new fields of inquiry altogether. In this “anti-thetical” fashion, the following examples represent the benefits of prioritizing key terms.

Key Terms, Spring 2018

The Language of Monstrosity

In a Tortoiseshell: Madelyn Broome’s “The Language of Monstrosity” argues that in film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, the creature’s lack of language leads to a lack of depth in audiences’ emotional responses to the creature’s misfortunes.  This excerpt highlights the author’s use of her key term “human” not just as a familiar tool with which to support her argument, but as a mechanism for creating motive.

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Key Terms, Spring 2018

Rethinking Moral Luck: What Conditions are Necessary for Moral Responsibility?

In a Tortoiseshell: While the entirety of Katie’s “Rethinking Moral Luck: What Conditions are Necessary for Moral Responsibility?” is an excellent showcase of how to navigate key terms, this section is particularly special. Here, not only does Katie introduce her own key term (which skillfully arises from the specific problems she identifies with the key terms that already exist in the scholarly conversation) but she also goes on to give a carefully crafted analysis of the key terms that appear within that overarching key term she proposes!  This section not only allows Katie’s readers to fully understand what her term means but more importantly allows us to really see how her “Revised Control Condition” is in direct conversation with the concerns she addresses in Nagel’s “Strong Control Condition” and Rosen’s “Moderate Control Condition.”

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Risk-taking, Spring 2017

How intentional anachronism changes identity processing via history in Assassin’s Creed

In a Tortoiseshell: In Hastings’ paper, he develops the key term “intentional anachronism” to forward a complicated argument that investigates the multiple identities revolving around the main character of the video game Assassin’s Creed, Altaïr. Risk-taking in subject and in the issues he considers, his essay showcases a thrilling take on the worldwide phenomenon of Assassin’s Creed and is a model consideration of such a topic.

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Framing, Spring 2017

Media Meditation in 1990s Slacker Comedies

In a Tortoiseshell: This excerpt from Sam’s English JP explores the phenomenon of the slacker comedy and investigates its origin in the cultural materialism, economic stagnation and generational apathy of the 1990s. This introduction establishes Sam’s definition of the “slacker” by grounding it in both scholarly literature and the cultural context, and uses this key term as a springboard for the rest of his argument.

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Strength: An Evil Inclination in Paradise Lost?

In a Tortoiseshell: This excerpt analyzes one, specific term in Paradise Lost, and its ramifications for the text more broadly. The author manages to define his argument cogently on both the micro and the macro level, situating his key terms in an understandable (but nuanced) way, while also crafting topic sentences that analyze rather than stating fact.

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