In a Tortoiseshell: In this excerpt, Willow develops a rich and multilayered motive for writing about the Martin Hayes Quartet’s album The Blue Room. She begins with a hook that orients the reader to the album and prefigures her motive. She then establishes an explicit personal motive, which is interwoven with her primary source motive. Having made her question clear, she deftly answers it in her thesis and later analysis. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In her exploration of two animated shows, Megan analyzes the erotic undertones present during the mental violation of a young female character. As she engages with this piece of evidence, Megan not only draws a compelling parallel but goes a step further to include detailed notes of visual design and its deeper ties to animated pornography, which ultimately ties to her paper’s global motive. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In his essay, Sam delves deeply into the implications behind David Hammons’s 1988 piece How Ya Like Me Now? At odds with the rest of Hammons’s works, which involve raw and compelling depictions of Blackness in America, How Ya Like Me Now? is a painting that portrays Jesse Jackson, a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and lifelong activist for justice for Black Americans, as white. The following excerpt highlights the way that Sam layers motive from both his primary and secondary sources to create an exemplary introduction.Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: After establishing her thesis, Akhila moves towards orienting. Tasked with the tricky dilemma of introducing the reader to both the general subject area and the scholarly conversation that surrounds her work, Akhila deftly sets a foundation that allows a compelling argument to follow. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In her exhibition statement for a hypothetical museum exhibit, Shirley prepares her readers to encounter exicon terms visually and spatially. She provides her audience with orienting information on architectural estrangement, with clear motivating questions to guide audience members’ experience of the exhibited objects, with evidence in the form of the objects themselves, and with suggested routes of analysis in the way those objects are displayed in the exhibition space. Overall, Shirley’s exhibition invites hypothetical museum-goers to join a scholarly conversation on architectural estrangement and to find their own argument in the exhibited objects. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In his Writing Seminar R3, Arya Maheshwari uses correlation networks to model air pollution data gathered in India. This excerpt, which is a condensed version of his introduction, demonstrates how quantitative papers can effectively utilize global and scholarly motives to communicate the importance of their high technical studies to a lay audience.
In a Tortoiseshell: In his paper for Anthropologies of Climate and Change, Liam Seeley argues that we can rethink our relationship to our changing climate by focusing on how it interacts with our lungs. Climate is not fully external to us, as air enters our bodies with each breath we take. Liam treats the lungs as a metaphor for the functioning of climate on a larger scale; the lungs offer a microcosm of the social and political facets of climate change. His essay has a particularly powerful narrative, driven by stories about how the lungs live in—and are damaged by—the world. Liam’s treatment of narrative is essential to his motive, thesis, and scholarly conversation. Continue reading
In a Tortoiseshell: In his paper for Aesthetics and Film, David Veldran discusses immoral fictional characters and their potential benefits for improving our moral intuitions. He weaves together a complex scholarly motive, which allows him to clearly demonstrate the necessity of his original argument, “aufheben.”
In a Tortoiseshell: In this excerpt, Will conducts a careful close reading to analyze the chronological ending of David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas. He begins by selectively choosing pieces of evidence from the novel, creating a strong foundation for his analysis. Importantly, this analysis goes beyond merely interpreting individual pieces of evidence; it is grounded in a surprising and compelling argument about his source. Continue reading
The theme for this year’s issue of Tortoise, narrative, emerged from a section of our previous issue. Last spring, we defined narrative as that “certain something which makes it easier for a reader to follow the author’s argument from point A to point B.” In this issue, we hope to draw and build on this definition of narrative in scholarly writing.
Through the excerpts (as well as one full-length feature piece) that we have chosen for publication, we consider the stories we tell and the way we tell them in academic writing. How does good storytelling help us to craft a compelling argument? What role can “creative” techniques such as metaphor, setting, and imagery play in our academic writing? And reciprocally, how do the lexicon terms present themselves in creative writing?
Most of our pieces explore the role of storytelling in scholarly writing. Across papers from a wide range of contexts and disciplines — from writing seminar papers to a Comparative Literature JP to a close reading paper for the East Asian Humanities Sequence — we examine the narrative techniques that these authors employ to strengthen their use of lexicon terms. What happens when a writer conveys their motive through a vivid anecdote? Can we think of orienting as a kind of worldbuilding?
Although Tortoise typically publishes academic writing, in this issue we have chosen to include an Unconventional Genre section. This section features three pieces that fall outside what we might think of as traditional scholarly writing: a short story, a speech, and a museum exhibition statement. How do these more explicitly narrative-driven genres draw on conventions of academic writing in order to tell a story?
We hope that you will enjoy this unconventional issue of Tortoise and join us in exploring the intersections of scholarly and creative writing!
— Meigan Clark, ’22