Writing Samples

 

 

Here are a few samples of my work. Note that, since some of these samples were originally written for clients (both of whom earned As), I removed their names to protect their privacy.

 

                                            Taming the Paper Tiger: How to Write Research Papers

 

      As Charles Buxton once wrote, “In life, as in chess, forethought wins.” This maxim is especially true when writing research papers. Many people tend to think of a good paper as an obtuse piece of writing chock-full of grandiose phrases, and, since most people are not naturally inclined to be writers of that sort, they find the process of writing intimidating. In reality, what makes a good research paper is the careful planning and organization of the material into an outline before the paper is written. If this first stage is done well, the paper becomes infinitely easier to write.

      In the preparatory stages of crafting a paper, the most important things in a writer's tool kit should be index-cards and a cork bulletin-board. The importance of these things cannot be stressed enough; they are to the organizing of information used to build one's paper what feng shui is to arranging furniture: a way of both reducing clutter and creating greater piece of mind. After the writer has done all the research needed to compose the paper, each fact or point should be written on an index-card and posted on the bulletin-board.

      After cataloging, in this way, all information needed to write the paper, it is then time to arrange the facts written on all the index cards in roughly the order they will appear in the final draft. After this has been accomplished, it is then time to take several index cards and consolidate the facts thereon into a single paragraph.

      Once one has written a fully realized paragraph that is good enough for the final draft, it is crucial to type it up and add it to one's research paper immediately. This is an extremely important step because typing up the paper paragraph by paragraph over a period of time is far less stressful than the monstrous task composing and typing the paper in one fell swoop.

      Of course, once an outline for the paper is in place, one still needs to get the enthusiasm and creative juices flowing in order to breath life into the raw data and make it a paper eminently worth reading. To this end, modern technology has bequeathed us light and sound machines. Obtained for around $100, these machines use light and sound to induce brain states of sharp focus, deep relaxation, and enhanced creativity. Used on a daily basis, it could be the adjunct needed to make one's paper A-plus material.

 

Jane Doe

Professor Delp

Humanities 201

24 April 2012

 

                                             Moses and Christ: Their Heroic Rites of Passage

 

 

     In the early days of Christendom, a method was forged by the church to show how the Old Testament, in several of its passages, either predicted or prefigured the life of Christ. Called typology, it was meant to reconcile the teachings of the Old and New Testaments in this way. Indeed, given the uncanny parallels between the life of Moses, for example, and that of Christ, it is quite understandable that the church would often defer to this method to validate its beliefs.

      It should hardly come as a surprise that the lives of Moses and Christ, two men, who were divinely destined to wrought great deeds, should bear such a heroic propinquity for, as David Leeming shows in his work The World of Myth: An Anthology, the life of every mythic hero, regardless of the culture from which his story originates, has many of the same hallmarks, litmus tests of heroic status Leeming calls rites of passage (p. 215).

     Straightway, the first rite of passage that besets the mythic hero is his very birth. Far from coming into the world in a pedestrian way, the births of mythic heroes are seen to take place, time and again, amidst extraordinary circumstances, often fraught with great peril. The births of Moses and Christ are certainly no exception to this, as each occur during horrible pogroms meant to kill all the Hebrew boys, from which both are extricated by deus ex machina. Thus, we see Moses put into a tiny, homemade boat by his mother and sent floating down the Nile River, where he is discovered and adopted by none other than Pharaoh's daughter herself (Exodus 2: 3-10). In the case of the baby Jesus, his father Joseph is warned in a dream to flee Egypt so as to avoid the genocidal activities of King Herod (Matthew 2:13-15).

     Though the adherents of either the Christian or Jewish faith might see the figures of Moses or Christ as real personages, for Leeming, they can also stand as archetypes, symbols of universal human experience. They, along with mythic heroes from every culture, represent the journey everyone must take to try to make sense of life and find one's place in the world. In another of Leeming's works, which focuses more specifically on the mythic hero, he shows how the birth of such a figure can represent all those life struggles in microcosm:

          The birth myth thus involves initiation, the search for origins, the hope of a fresh

          beginning, the acceptance of what we call evil as a permanent reality, and the

          adaptation of the heroic principle by the human psyche. The birth myth is the

          voyage to full individuation. The myth is revealed totally in all of the stories when

          viewed as one (p. 40).

      Another rite of passage is the mystical experiences that the mythic hero undergoes to apprise both him and the world that he has secured divine favor and is a cut above mere mortals. In the life of Moses, we see this in evidence when he beholds the burning bush at Mount Horeb(Exodus 3:1-6). Just as King Arthur had the mettle needed to pull Excalibur out of the rock, Moses too showed himself to be of sterner stuff when he bravely chose to explore the eerie phenomena of a bush that was on fire yet not being burnt up. It was at that moment that God revealed himself to Moses and chose him to lead his people out of Egypt. Subsequently, as an agent of divine will, God bestows upon Moses miraculous powers to impress both Pharaoh and the Israelites (Exodus 4:1-9).

      For Christ, such mystical experiences are legion. In addition to astonishing the teachers at Jerusalem's temple with his pedagogical skills, though a mere boy of twelve (Luke 2:46-47), God himself makes an appearance at Christ's baptism to affirm his divine origins (Matthew 3:16-17). Later, Christ undergoes a process of transfiguration where he is speaking with Moses and Elijah as they are all bathed in a nimbus of white light (Matthew 17:1-5).

      Mythic heroes are often deputed to be such in order to render a great service for their people or the world. Hence, Moses was called by God to lead his people out of Egypt, and, Christ, no less, was called by God to lead the world out of sin. However, before they can fulfill their destinies, they must go through another rite of passage in the form of a test or initiation to prove beyond all doubt that they are ready and worthy. Such a test was given to Moses when he spent forty days and forty nights alone with God atop Mount Sinai, where God imparted to him the matrix of laws that would govern Israel (Exodus 24:16-18). Christ, of course, was also alone for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, where he was tempted by none other than Satan himself (Luke 4:1-13).

     For Leeming, however, the trails and tests of Moses, Christ, and all other mythic heroes are but allegories of the fears and challenges we all must face. As he states in The World of Myth: An Anthology:

          But whoever the hero may be, he or she journeys for us, carries us metaphorically

          into our darker side, into the unconscious realm that we tentatively explore in our

          dreams-into a world where our nightmares become real, where the monsters inside

          of us take on terrifyingly real forms, where are deepest wishes are sometimes

          fulfilled (p. 215).

 

                                                           Works Cited

 

                      The Bible: Revised Standard Version. New York: American Bible Society, 1980. Print.

 

                      Leeming, David. Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.

 

                      Leeming, David. The World of Myth: An Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press. 1990. Print.

 

 

 

                              THE EFFECT OF DR. KING AND MALCOLM X ON COMTEMPORARY THOUGHT

 

      During the heady times that were the American Civil Rights Movement, two disquisitions were given to counsel black-America on how best to deal with the racist oppression it faced so as to gain its freedom and empowerment. The first came in the form of a speech given by Malcolm X at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland on April 13 1964. The speech, which has come to be known by the title The Ballot or the Bullet, was a fiery clarion-call for black-America to demand its equal rights NOW and, should the American government dawdle any further in granting these equal rights, force its hand by armed revolt, as a last resort, if necessary. The second was a letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King on April 16 1963 whilst incarcerated. Written as a response to local black ministers, who were critical of his insinuation into local politics, Letter from a Birmingham Jail was a high-minded appeal for nonviolent direct action with an ultimate reconciliation between the races in mind. When we do an audit of American cultural attitudes to see how either the ideas of Martin Luther King or Malcolm X influenced them, it can be argued that both held their sway in their own way.

      Aside from sporadic riots in places like Watts in 1966, Detroit in 1967, and Los Angeles in 1992, armed revolt by its black populace is basically absent from American history. Unlike Northern Ireland's Catholics, the Palestinians, the Kurds, or those on the left in Mexico, black-America never fielded a para-military group like the IRA, the PLO, the PKK, or the Zapatistas to fight the oppression it faced despite the easy access to firearms in the United States. This probably can be explained by the fact that, unlike those aforementioned groups, there was no indigenous homeland for black-America to fight for, as it was descended from African slaves, who were taken from their villages and shipped thousands of miles away to the United States. Moreover, once in America, the black population, though segregated, was diffused amongst the white population such that there was not even a reservation-like area over which they have autonomy.

     Thus, in the light of those historical facts, it is easy to see why Dr. King's doctrine of nonviolent direct action would hold great appeal for the black as well as white elements, who sought to advance the cause of civil-rights. Rather than the gaining control of a territory, the leadership of the African American community realized that, if it ever stood a chance of bettering its people, it had to fight for and win those things of great abstract value that it could parley into empowerment such as voting rights, desegregation, and equal access to education, and nonviolent direct action was the perfect vehicle to do this, especially in the age of television. Much in the way a very bright color, when placed against a very dark color, renders the brightness of the one and the darkness of the other in starker relief, television images of peaceful demonstrators, calling for their legal rights, juxtaposed against unprovoked police brutality in the service of maintaining segregation, unerringly highlights the righteousness of one and the ignominy of the other. By staging scenarios in which the defenders of Jim Crow can put forth no high moral argument (or indeed no argument at all) for their vicious behavior, the sympathies of conscientious people are galvanized all over the country, whilst incredible pressure to resolve these injustices is brought to bear on state and federal government as a result. Says King:

          Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals

          could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative

          analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the

          kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism

          to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action

          program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will invariably open the door to

          negotiation (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, para. 9).

     Indeed, though King was considered a radical by the forces of reaction, he saw the impetus for the Civil Rights Movement based, not on some new radical ideology, but on biblical principles. Says Adam Wolfson in The Martin Luther King We Remember, “Martin Luther King Jr. built a movement for racial equality that at once drew upon the country's secular principles and its religious sensibility. He was a reformer, to be sure. But not unlike Abraham Lincoln, it was a reform guided by old ideals rather than new idols” (The Martin Luther King We Remember, para. 9).

     That the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement drew it ranks almost entirely from the clergy of African-American churches was another huge factor in palliating the urge for black community to strike back in retaliation for the wrongs done to it during protests, and King knew this all too well when he said:

          I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the negro church, the way of nonviolence

          became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many

          streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing in blood. And I am further convinced

          that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us,

          who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts,

          millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black

          nationalist ideologies-a development that would invariably lead to a frightening racial

          nightmare (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, para. 23).

     If Martin Luther King was trying to build a bridge to white America (and the economic empowerment for his people he thought was on the other side), Malcolm X felt he needed to build a fort against it. For Malcolm, white America was too reprobate to ever change willingly out of conscience, and, in The Ballot or the Bullet, Malcolm astutely points out that, if white America truly cared about the black man having civil-rights, he would have them already:

           These senators and congressmen actually violate the constitutional amendments that

           guarantee the people of that particular state or county the right to vote. And the Constitution

           itself has within it the machinery to expel any representative from a state where the voting

           rights of a people are violated. You don't even need new legislation. Any person in Congress,

           right now, who is there from a state or district where the voting rights of the people are

           violated, that particular person should be expelled from Congress. And when you expel him,

           you've removed one of the obstacles in the path of any meaningful legislation in this country.

           In fact, when you expel them, you don't need new legislation because they will be replaced

           by black representatives from counties and districts where the black man is in the majority,

           not in the minority (The Ballot or the Bullet, para. 18).

     Malcolm X was not the only one, who saw the hypocrisy; many abroad noticed this at the time, effectively thwarting the attempt by the United States to pose itself as a beacon of freedom and fairness. As Renee Romano writes, “A rich and growing scholarship on the relationship between Cold War foreign policy and American race relations suggests that the Cold War made American racism an international liability since segregation and discrimination tarnished the nation's image abroad” (p. 547).

     Furthermore, Malcolm X believed that economic autonomy could be an analog to territorial autonomy as he declared:

           So the economic philosophy of black nationalism means in every church, in every civil

           organization, in every fraternal order, it's time now for our people to become conscious of

           controlling the economy of our own community, then we're developing to the position where

           we are creating employment for our own kind. Once you gain control of the economy of your

           own community, then you don't have to picket and boycott and beg some cracker downtown

           for a job in his business (The Ballot or the Bullet, para. 48).

     Even though Malcolm X, a Muslim, would have disapproved of the profanity, sexuality, and drug use, many of the themes in both urban drama and rap music echo those in The Ballot or the Bullet, and it is in these two mediums that Malcolm's ideas bear the greatest cultural impress. In such cinematic and musical fare, there is a sense of exclusion, disconnection, and isolation from American mainstream culture on the part of the black characters. The white man is a hostile, remote “other,” which menacingly looms up every now and then like some elemental force in a naturalist novel. More then just brazen individuals with bravado and swagger, the protagonists in urban dramas, whether John Shaft in Shaft, Priest in Superfly, or Nino Brown in New Jack City, were men of action, who strove to live according to the self-reliant model Malcolm X put forth, refusing to grovel like the lumpen masses, who ever waited for any scraps of favor the white man might decide to throw their way.

 

 

 

                                                                       Works Cited

 

King, M.L (1963, April 16). Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Retrieved from http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

 

Romano, R. (2000). No Diplomatic Immunity: African Diplomats, the State Department, and Civil Rights, 1961-1964, The Journal of American History, 87(2), 574

 

Wolfson, A. (2003, June 1). The Martin Luther King We Remember. Retrieved from http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2005/06/20050608091735pssnikwad0.4134333.html#axzz2yvvnerOs

 

X, Malcolm. (1964, April 13). The Ballot or the Bullet. Retrieved from http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/malcolm_x_ballot.html