|Glossary of Useful Terms
Analysis - A highly developed cognitive
skill involving the separation of a whole "thing" (book, theory, idea,
formula, painting, song, etc.) into its constituent parts or basic principles
for the purpose of their individual study. With such a methodical examination
of the pieces, greater understanding of the whole is possible. Back.
Angles of Analysis - The concepts,
issues, and influences that provide "the meat" of the discussion of an
author's thesis. These are the things that the author thought important
or useful in the development of her thinking the thesis through. Back.
Critical Thinking - A complex
set of cognitive skills employed in problem-solving and intellectual consideration
and innovation. Critical thinking requires mental agility and thoughtful
consideration: one must, almost simultaneously, be able to process and
then analyze what is being presented, to make connections between various
bits of information, to draw inferences from what has been stated directly,
to question any assumptions and connections made, and to remain generally
skeptical until sufficient proof is offered. Practice in critical thinking
is designed to make your mind more powerful. This power is something you
can apply to any profession and one of the major benefits of taking a humanities
Context - Everything -- social, cultural,
political, historical factors -- that surrounds a particular event or development
of thought. These are the forces of influence at play when the event actually
occurs. Greater knowledge of the context of a thing leads to a deeper understanding
of and more balanced perspective on its nature. But, such knowledge can
be gained only through extensive reading and investigation. Back.
Primary Sources - Materials which
were produced at the time of the event or idea under study. Primary sources
provide the intimacy and the immediacy of an on-the-scene perspective that
cannot be recaptured in distant, often refiltered and reinterpreted history.
The thesis is often less of stated proposition and more of a subtle revelation.
Rationale - The main ideas that underpin
the thesis. If the thesis is the point, then the rationale is both the
reason behind and the explanation or discussion of the point. It is the
How? and the Why? part of the thesis. Categories of analysis are one part
of the rationale and generally contain any specific examples the author
wishes to include. Back.
Secondary Sources - Materials
created through the assimilation and synthesis of various primary and other
secondary materials, usually to support a position or advance a claim.
The thesis generally is a constructed, specific sentence(s), explained
or supported by relevant main ideas. Such sources offer both a diversity
of thought and viewpoint and often claims -- because of its remove from
the subject -- greater objectivity. Back.
Thesis - "The point." The thesis is the
statement being made or the question being asked by the producer of the
work; it is the centerpiece of that work. It may be stated overtly up front,
or it may be subtly revealed through time. At its simplest, it the statement
of Who? What? When? and Where plus the author's viewpoint or situation.
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