THE ESSAY THAT STANDS LIKE A HOUSE: A DIAGRAM in words

 

TITLE
A first glimpse of the building in its setting: a grabbing impressionistic characterisation of the subject. You can compare the title to the way that the decoration on a facade, its colours, surface treatment etc., tries to characterise and enhance the building and tries to indicate what happens on the inside.

 

SUBTITLE
The facade: a specification of the subject in time and place. The subtitle is as, if not more important than the title; it gives you an insight into the way the facade is organised and reveals what lies behind it.

 

INTRODUCTION
The more formal invitation and the plan or map of the house. Essential ingredients in an introduction are:

         What is the general subject/topic?

         What is the specific problem/focus?

         Why are you interested in this problem?

         How does the problem break up into its constituent elements?

         What is your thesis?

         How are you going to approach the subject? or: What is your strategy for proving your point?

         What is the sequence of your arguments?

 

THE MAIN ARGUMENT
The systematic treatment of each issue as it relates to the whole and the issues immediately before and after.

A schematic representation of what is meant might go as follows.

1st issue > relevance > description > proposition > evidence > implications>

2nd issue >relevance > description> proposition > evidence > implications>

3rd issue> and so forth.

Each issue represents a room and its corridor connection to the next. A more detailed version might go as follows:

Present the issue, give the problem, present the facts or describe the situation;

Explain the problemís relevance to your purpose;

Analyse the problem by breaking it up into the separate issues and describe them in a justifiable sequence;

Place these issues into a perspective which is useful to you;

Give your proposition or interpretation to address the problem;

Give evidence to show it is a good proposition or interpretation;

Describe that evidence in such a way that the reader can see it is compelling evidence;

Work out the implications of what you have said. Now, where does that lead us? To the next argument: Next argument. etc.

 

CONCLUSION The farewell, arranging the next meeting and showing the way out.

Have you argued your point and covered all the angles? Show the reader that you have.

Have you tied up all loose ends?

What are the implications of what you have said (for yourself, for the subject under discussion, the people involved)?

What does all this mean for future practice?

 

Problem, proposition or argument, evidence and illustration, conclusion and projection. These words should be arranged in a circle, like a snake biting its tail.

 

Almost forgot the Acknowledge-ments

Never forget acknowledgements! It is always a good idea to devote a footnote or a separate page to them. The acknowledgements should give a brief history of the project itself. Here you are given the chance to thank people who have been helpful to you and say when and within which program the research-project was done.

DO NOT THANK the tutor(s) who supervised the project. It is their job to help you, they are paid to do so and thanking them takes the project out of the professional sphere where it belongs into a murky personal one. What you can, and indeed must do is write down who supervised the project.[1]

 



[1] This document was produced in answer to a need expressed to me in 1994 for a clear guide to the process and presentation of historical and theoretical research. I would dearly like to thank The dean of the school Patrick Stanigar, Prof. Ivor Smith, David Harrison, Raoul Snelder for their kind suggestions and criticisms in making this little booklet. However, this document would not have grown to its present proportions if the students who used earlier drafts of this document had not made their comments about it. I am greatly indebted to them. This booklet is dedicated to Alicia Taylor, head of the research department. I Would also like to thank Prof. Ivor Smith and Miss Karen Edwards for their rendering of snakes.