How to approach Question Sheet #1 by Dr. Zecher

By now you’ve taken a look at the question sheet and are thinking to yourself that this is a daunting task.  Each question is going to require a substantial response—about a page, double-spaced.  How do you go about writing so much? I want to offer a few suggestions that will greatly help you and, perhaps, answer in advance, some of the concerns which will arise. [gn_pullquote align=”right”]Each question is going to require a substantial response—about a page, double-spaced.  How do you go about writing so much? [/gn_pullquote]

  1.  Read each question carefully.  This may seem basic, but you’ll probably notice that many questions suggest which book, even which chapters, should provide the basis for your response.  If nothing else, key words in the question should direct you to where in your books and notes you can find the data you’ll need to formulate responses.
  2. Answer each question separately.  Spend time focusing your attention only on the question before you.  Don’t try and answer all at the same time.  Rather, start brainstorming ideas this weekend and give yourself a few days of research and preparation, so that you have one day per question in the actual writing.  This will keep you focused and a lot less stressed.
  3. Quotes don’t make a response.  We are NOT looking for regurgitated information.  We’ve read the books too, and don’t need them summarized for us.  Rather, we want to see you take what you’ve read and heard, and use that to synthesize a response—a claim which you can back up with evidence from our books.  This means also that you should not spend your word-count on long quotes.  Rather, parenthetical citation and your own words will be more helpful.
  4. But you should still give quotes.  Annoying, I admit, but there is a balance here.  If the particular words are important, quote them.  Otherwise, rephrase and cite.  Think of it this way:  you can paraphrase fairy tales and everyone gets it.  But if you paraphrase a magical spell you end up a newt.
  5. It’s about analysis.  We want to know what you think, what claims you can make in response to the brilliant questions we’ve given.  We’re less interested in your feelings and speculations.  What you want to really work on is analyzing the texts given in Warrior and using those analyses to formulate answers to questions about Roman religion.  If we ask about whether healing is important, you won’t find a passage saying “Healing is very important.”  Rather, you will need to show how certain rituals are actually focused on healing, and then explain how they are operating, to show that, in fact, healing is important.

So, what do we want from you?  Apart from flickers of genius, we want to see that you are thinking about the material we’re covering, that you are able to cull, analyze, and synthesize primary source material (Warrior) using the broader framework of religion given in, for example, Rives or Dr. Armstrong’s lectures.

Take a deep breath.  Read carefully, take your time, formulate your thoughts.  You can do this.

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