A Short Handbook for writing essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Copyright Year: 2019
ISBN 13: 9781466229105
Publisher: Minnesota Libraries Publishing Project
Conditions of Use
This short text provides an approachable primer for novice essayists and reminder of standard practices of academic writing for more experienced writers. Rather than go into great depth, the chapters briefly outline the process of writing academic... read more
This short text provides an approachable primer for novice essayists and reminder of standard practices of academic writing for more experienced writers. Rather than go into great depth, the chapters briefly outline the process of writing academic essays at the high school or undergraduate level. The text is comprehensive in that it is organized linearly to guide the writer from taking notes and developing a thesis through writing drafts and revisions. There is no index or glossary provided; however, the table of contents and short chapters ensure that the text is easy to navigate.
The content is accurate and error-free. The text is written by educators who attempt to address what they identify as common errors in student writing. As such, the bias present reflects a preference for standard English and traditional structure in academic writing.
Because the text focuses on standard practices in academic writing such as writing strong topic sentences, creating arguable theses, and avoiding passive voice, I doubt the text could become obsolete anytime soon. The text speaks to current trends in academic writing by including tips such as how to use gender neutral language and gears itself towards the high school and undergraduate level by modeling and promoting the use of a conversational tone in academic writing. Short, well-organized, worksheet-like chapters allow plenty of room for one to add to, update, or adapt this text.
The authors advise student essayists to use language and style that illustrates “genuine human conversation.” The text successfully models a balance of accuracy of language with a conversational tone. It is a pleasant read.
The text is consistent in its use of terminology, framework, and voice.
Short chapters with limited scope provide introductions and jumping off points for further discussions and activities related to academic writing in the humanities and social sciences.
The chapters are arranged to illustrate a start to finish approach to writing essays. Each chapter focuses on an element of essay writing. The organization is clear and logical.
I had no difficulty accessing or reading the text online with my laptop and my phone. I was not as successful viewing the EPUB as a download to my phone. The text was too small in Bluefire reader and the app would not allow viewing at a larger font size. I do not know if the limitation was due to the EPUB or the reader app.
I did not notice any grammatical errors.
The text addresses the importance of avoiding problematic language in academic writing in the chapter “Appropriate Words” and cautions that writers avoid repetition and wordiness, cliches, jargon, pop culture references, empty words, words with contested meanings, code words, and overextended/mixed/misapplied metaphors. I notice the absence of resources, strategies, and discussions about words relating to race, ethnicity, background, or identity. Also, examples throughout the text are primarily Western, male, and white. Steps towards inclusiveness are present, such as strategies for gender neutral writing, but there is room for improvement.
The book is *short* and useful. It gives excellent advice for how students can and should select strong evidence, how to write effective openings and closings, and discusses many common grammatical errors. However, the book does not spend enough... read more
The book is *short* and useful. It gives excellent advice for how students can and should select strong evidence, how to write effective openings and closings, and discusses many common grammatical errors. However, the book does not spend enough time on how to organize the body of an essay or how to organize sentences within a paragraph.
This book is well-researched and contains no errors (in terms of subject matter, usage, or grammar).
Very relevant, especially because so many books on writing are long, and the longer they are the less likely students are to read them. This book does very impactful work in a very limited number of pages.
The book is very clear and accessible for professors and advanced students. Many of the examples from English and History papers utilized in the book would be quite difficult for many first-year students to follow, however.
Formatting is quite consistent; terminology is consistently and appropriately used.
Sections of this book are small, easy to understand, and not overwhelming for any level of student to read.
This book's organization flows in a logical way.
I did not notice any interface issues.
I did not notice any grammatical errors in the text.
The authors took care to be culturally sensitive.
A few short exercises at the end of each section, which instructors could create for their classes, would help students practice the book's lessons as sort of intermediary step between reading about possible pitfalls and working on their own to eliminate issues from their writing.
A Short Handbook for Writing Essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences by Salvatore Allosso and Dan Allosso is a comprehensive and concise work on how to write good essays on the humanities and the social sciences by clearly defining the... read more
A Short Handbook for Writing Essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences by Salvatore Allosso and Dan Allosso is a comprehensive and concise work on how to write good essays on the humanities and the social sciences by clearly defining the definitions of those disciplines. I have not seen many indexes and/or glossaries with these online books, so I don't think it is really necessary for the comprehension of the text.
The content was accurate, without error, and unbiased in its content, syntax, and point of view.
I think the light tone, conversational style, and relevance to all who practice the art of writing is both timely and long-lasting. There is a universal appeal to this approach, and while language is always changing, the rules for written work have more longevity.
The book is written in such a way as to engage even the most reluctant reader into a kind of conspiratorial allegiance on how to approach the art of reading well and writing with lucid accuracy, technical prowess, and enlightened awareness.
The text incorporates terminology into the structure and framework of its chapters with clarity and consistency.
The text is proportionate to reasonable reading and writing assignments. In each chapter, there is a clear way of recognizing and analyzing concepts on writing for use toward student outcomes in a writing course.
This text is logically organized to support and sustain its thesis and the thorough exploration of its guiding elements.
There are no significant interface issues, problems with navigation, or distractions to confuse potential readers.
There are no grammatical errors to my reckoning.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. The book embraced multi-culturalism with quotes, questions, and persuasive argument as to how a writer must be objective, open-minded, and thoroughly engaged in standing by their work.
I really loved the conversational style between authors and readers. This father-son duo has clearly taken delight in sharing their love of the world through the art of writing. I really liked the quotes they chose to support their ideas. Perhaps one day, I will use their book in my composition classes. A truly remarkable discovery!
The text covers fairly well the important considerations of writing essays for humanities and social sciences courses. The authors assert their intention of taking students “step-by-step through the process of writing essays for an upper-level... read more
The text covers fairly well the important considerations of writing essays for humanities and social sciences courses. The authors assert their intention of taking students “step-by-step through the process of writing essays for an upper-level high school class or a college course.” The steps of which they speak include analyzing texts, note-taking, formulating essay topics, creating theses, ordering evidence, building arguments, writing coherent paragraphs, composing effective sentences, using appropriate diction, and revising. The text lacks an index and glossary and the inclusion thereof would certainly strengthen the comprehensiveness of the work.
The content of this text is accurate and the steps covered are mostly applicable for first-year college students and high school juniors and seniors.
The content appears up-to-date. Text is devoid of visual imagery, making it potentially less appealing to contemporary/millennial students, but its structure invites relatively easy updating, and all links were accurate.
The text is mostly clear and provides adequate examples to explain the application of material discussed in each chapter.
The text's consistency would be excellent if an index and glossary were included.
This text is organized in such a manner that students can be assigned short readings without having to jump hither and yon between chapters or different parts of the book.
There are nine chapters in the text. They are presented in a logical and purposeful order. Critical reading and note-taking comes first while a revision checklist is available at the end. This makes sense as it is important to provide students with suggestions for information-gathering and revision.
The interface is free of any distracting issues. The text is mostly easy to navigate.
I noticed no grammatical errors.
The text successfully represents a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Examples are sensitive and free of stereotypes.
This book would have been beneficial to me as an undergraduate. Most of what it covers are things I had to learn by experience, and the quality of my earliest scholarship would have been much improved with the benefit of these lessons. The text has value as a supplementary or recommended material, particularly for students whose plans include graduate school or writing-intensive professions. Students who are most prepared will get the most out of it, but the text also offers good examples
The scope of this text is very clearly outlined in its title - it aims to guide students through the process of writing essays for humanities and social sciences courses. The Allossos succeed in creating a work that does just that, discussing... read more
The scope of this text is very clearly outlined in its title - it aims to guide students through the process of writing essays for humanities and social sciences courses. The Allossos succeed in creating a work that does just that, discussing techniques and strategies for writing well but assuming that readers will have a reasonable familiarity with English grammar. Contents included how to develop ideas, how to formulate effective arguments, how to identify weak points in writing, and how to revise effectively. It is worth noting that the authors are not concerned with formatting, emphasizing the writing process and not the finicky details of citation structure, title page layout, or font size.These issues are easily addressed on a great many websites and reference works; more concerning is that there is no real discussion of plagiarism or how to manage citations and references, which is an important part of any humanities or social sciences essay that requires research and not a single text. There is no glossary or index for this work, though the table of contents lays out chapter topics very clearly. An index would be quite useful for instructors and students wanting to use the book in its entirety. Similarly, a reference list with links to related works and websites might also be of use for those who would like more in-depth information on particular techniques not elaborated on in this short work.
The content of this guidebook is accurate, although its narrow focus does mean that is not comprehensive (and it does not intend to be). The strategies outlined in it are standard practice and are conveyed succinctly. Quoted authors are all referenced by name but not in any further detail; simple citations for these quotes would model best practices for the students reading the material.
The content of this guidebook is general enough in nature to remain relevant for some time. The examples given throughout the book reference works of classic Western literature or established understandings of history that American schools are likely to continue to teach - Shakespeare’s plays, the history of slave uprisings in the Americas, the Civil War, and Hemingway all feature. Notably, references are only discussed in the context of example passages, and so no knowledge of the events or plots is necessary to understand what the authors are saying.
The Alessos practice what they preach in this instance, writing directly and clearly. Jargon is almost non-existent, and where it does exist it is always defined and explained. Concepts are clearly illustrated with multiple examples and outlined step by step. The overall vocabulary and level of writing is appropriate for students in grade 11 or above.
Key terms are used continually throughout this work; in particular, the authors emphasize the importance of unity, coherence, and emphasis in effective writing. Vocabulary terms are introduced and used consistently, although alternative terms are listed to ensure understanding.
This guide could be easily divided into distinct sections useful for a wide variety of classes throughout the humanities and social sciences. History and English classes would find it particularly relevant, but introductory writing teachers, writing tutors, and academic support offices would also find much that is useful here. The sections on how to construct a thesis and the revision checklist are particularly applicable to me in my work as a writing tutor. I can see myself having students read specific sections of this book depending on what their particular roadblocks to writing are.
The organization of this text is logical, beginning with the process of note-taking and brainstorming, and moving on to persuasive argument building, thesis construction, essay structure, writing, and revision. The revision checklist at the end of the textbook is also organized in such a way that it leads students to look for major issues in their writing before the minor ones.
Overall, the guidebook displayed well and is easy to navigate. There are no images included, and although images are not strictly necessary for this sort of topic, I believe that the text would benefit from some formatting changes. Some of the lists could use better visual clues in their subdivision, and example paragraphs would benefit from being presented in a diagram format where specific portions could be highlighted and remarked on more directly. Unfortunately, this title is not available in PDF format, which would be useful for anyone wanting access to the book without an internet connection. Epub format would be useful as well.
I noticed no grammatical errors or typos in this text.
All references to culture in this text appear in example writing passages. Because of this, no deep understanding of the referenced work or work is needed, because it is the writing and not the content of the passage that is the focus. However, almost all of the references included are focused on classic works concerning Western literature and history (Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Beowulf, etc.). A broadening of examples would be welcome, but as it stands the text is inoffensive and reflects what is taught in many English classes in American schools.
Table of Contents
- 1. Analyzing Texts, Taking Notes
- 2. Discovering a Topic, Preparing for Discussion
- 3. Creating a Thesis
- 4. Ordering Evidence, Building an Argument
- 5. Coherent Paragraphs
- 6. Effective Sentences
- 7. Appropriate Words
- 8. Revising
- 9. Revision Checklist
About the Book
A retired master teacher of English and Comparative Literature teams up with his son, a History professor, on a new version of the writing manual he wrote and used for decades at the University of California, Davis.
About the Contributors