Conditions of Use
This writing manual the author wrote and used for decades at the University of California, Davis is very comprehensive. It reviews multiple aspects of how to get started with writing, such as analyzing texts and taking notes, discovering a topic,... read more
This writing manual the author wrote and used for decades at the University of California, Davis is very comprehensive. It reviews multiple aspects of how to get started with writing, such as analyzing texts and taking notes, discovering a topic, preparing for discussion, creating a thesis, ordering evidence, building an argument, coherent paragraphs, effective sentences, appropriate words, revising, and a revision checklist. Also, it has a valuable appendix and even references to such philosophers as Aristotle, so it is comprehensive in both a practical and theoretical sense.
The content of A Short Handbook for Writing Essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences is accurate, error-free, and unbiased. This can be read in the “Analyzing Texts, Taking Notes” section, where the author begins with unbiased, clear questions, such as “what is a text?” The author then goes on to quote from such sources as author W.H. Auden (1907-1973), English-born poet and man of letters who achieved early fame in the 1930s as a hero of the left during the Great Depression.
A Short Handbook for Writing Essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences does represent relevance and longevity, in the sense that its chapters can be carried down from one generation to another without much variation, for example read in the “Discovering a Topic, Preparing for Discussion” chapter. Here, the author mentions that texts students work with at the college level of their education are mostly givens, as far as English classics, History primary and secondary sources that are important to understand a particular event and period, as well as the ways texts were chosen out of multiple texts in that they fit together and lead to a particular place.
There is a great deal of clarity in A Short Handbook for Writing Essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences, as this text makes difficult subjects easier to understand for most students, simplifying such potentially daunting topics as “creating a thesis”. In this chapter, the author asks a variety of questions, including what interpretation is the author trying to persuade the reader is valid, what are the reasons for this interpretation, how is the interpretation different from other interpretations, and what part of the text will be examined and emphasized, as well as what are the author’s assumptions and potential objections. These clear questions provide a sense of clarity for the reader and add to the text’s strengths.
This text is very consistent. Each chapter starts with an interesting quote that frames the chapter narrative in a compelling way. Then, the chapters start with very first-hand/direct testimony given to readers who can read the paragraphs in a way that is meant to speak to them rather than use jargon and difficult to understand sentences. Chapters follow similar structures in terms of longer paragraphs followed by definitions and clear statements that function to provide additional information with regards to the content and theme of the chapter discussed.
A Short Handbook for Writing Essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences does have easily and readily divisible sections that are useful to the reader in that they break up the narrative and provide all sorts of additional information in an aesthetically pleasing way that can be assigned at different points within the course. There are not enormous blocks of text without subheadings and the text does not seem to be overly self-referential. Instead, there are all sorts of references and data from disparate sources that provide for an interesting and informative read.
This text is full of effective, concise, and clear sentences, and is organized well in terms of the ways chapters are structured, starting with a quote that has a particular relevance to the chapter theme, including boxed reminders that set themselves apart from the general narrative, and including various bullet points and examples from literature.
Everything that I have read in this textbook signals that it is indeed free of any kind of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader.
Additionally, the text seems to be free of grammatical errors even as it does seem to contain some spacing issues but that could be on my computer only.
As far as the text’s cultural relevance, it does seem to rely quite heavily on dead White European philosophers, from Aristotle to Wittgenstein, to add to and accentuate a point, however it is not offensive in the sense that it does not go out of its way to denigrate a particular race, ethnicity, or other cultural background.
This text does a fine job of introducing students to basic essay writing in the Humanities and Social Sciences, its brevity functioning as a strength in that it keeps things fairly simple while adding philosophical and historical contexts to stay academic as well as relevant and consistent.
With only 9 chapters, this text does not cover every essay writing skill students need, but it does include focus on the higher order elements of writing. read more
With only 9 chapters, this text does not cover every essay writing skill students need, but it does include focus on the higher order elements of writing.
As the title suggests, the content is sparse, but it appears accurate.
While there are various theories on the teaching of writing in terms of pedagogy, writing skills do not really change in the sense of timeliness. The examples used are relatively common references from history and literature.
Again the content is minimal, but the material is written in a clear, easy-to-understand manner that would work for even first-year students.
The text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework, and even tone.
Each chapter is very short so they are easily assignable. And while there are headers, each chapter appears as one long page. Splitting up the content into just a few pages and spacing out the material a little more would be preferential.
While I believe that the text covers many of the essential elements of writing, the chapters appear out of order to me. I would have the chapter on "Effective Sentences" before the one on "Coherent Paragraphs". It is also problematic to me to have a chapter on "Ordering Evidence, Building an Argument" listed before the chapters on basic writing components.
The interface could be easier to navigate. There is no next button to move to easily move from chapter to chapter and to access the nine chapters, you have to click on a plus sign linked to what is called "I. Main Body". It is not very difficult to figure out, but it is just not as thought out as it could be. Like having a Roman Numeral I without a Roman Numeral II is a little odd. It also cannot be saved as a printable PDF.
I do not see any grammatical issues.
While I do not see any references that are culturally insensitive, there is also no real attempt at diversity or inclusion. Examples are really all from canonical texts, meaning white male authors, like Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Melville.
In the text "A Short Handbook for Writing Essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences" by Salvatore and Dan Allosso the authors present a simple, easy to follow guide for students to use when organizing, planning, researching, and writing an... read more
In the text "A Short Handbook for Writing Essays in the Humanities and Social Sciences" by Salvatore and Dan Allosso the authors present a simple, easy to follow guide for students to use when organizing, planning, researching, and writing an essay. In addition to essay structure, the authors also provide help with the “basics of effective writing”, including paragraph writing, sentence writing and avoiding common grammatical errors.
The concise format of the text requires that the author’s stay “right on point” which they do effectively and accurately.
By following each step outlined in this text, a student would undoubtedly improve his/her essay writing skills. Each topic the authors address is relevant to the development of a good essay. The strong emphasis put on the steps for writing an essay make this text a guide students will surely refer to again and again throughout their academic careers.
The conversational style used by the authors makes this text easy to read and understand. Most students find writing a nerve-racking ordeal. The authors deal with this by using straightforward language to explain concepts and reinforce the explanations with simple, easy to understand examples.
The authors have designed a textbook consistent from chapter to chapter and "as a whole". In general, each chapter begins with a quote from a famous author about writing, followed by an explanation of the chapter’s topic, followed by a working example. The authors' down to earth writing style is consistent in every chapter of the text.
The short length of the chapters makes them ideal to be read as individual assignments and their compartmentalized structure is suited well for associated writing assignments.
The structure of this text is one of its strongest points. The authors have organized the chapters in a logical order that students should follow when writing an essay.
The text interface is easy to navigate with no issues noticed.
The text is free of grammatical and syntactic errors.
The authors have created a text that shows an awareness of the need for cultural sensitivity and is inoffensive and completely class appropriate. . The Chapter titled “Appropriate Words” touches on avoiding the use of “Sexist Language”, which indicates concern for gender respect. Improvement could be made by using a more diverse group of authors for the opening chapter quotes.
I think this text is an excellent source for helping students understand the basic steps needed to write a good essay.
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
- I. Main Body
- 1. Inspiration, Interest, Anxiety
- 2. Writing is Thinking
- 3. Working with Ideas
- 4. Highlighting and Taking Notes
- 5. Making Source Notes
- 6. Discovering Topics and Connections
- 7. Organizing Output
- 8. Coherent Paragraphs
- 9. Effective Sentences
- 10. Appropriate Words
- 11. Revising
- Revision Checklist
About the Book
There are plenty of personal knowledge management systems out there, promising to help you take smart notes or link your thinking or build a second brain. And there are plenty of writing guides out there promising to teach you the elements of style. This book offers a simple and effective way to make effective notes on sources and your interpretations of them, then turn those thoughts into clear and compelling output.
About the Contributors