The essay versus the research paper

Thomas Bertonneau, a regular VFR commenter, has written an article, “Down with Research Papers!”, which is prominently mentioned and linked in the New York Times in a debate on research papers. Mr. Bertonneau argues that college students be assigned to write essays in which they make concise arguments for a point of view rather than long research papers which are neutral surveys of some topic:

By liberating students from the present, and liberating them from the automated processes that now govern the generously named “research” that goes into the dubiously named “research paper,” instructors liberate students generally. They liberate them not into the pointless neutrality of a survey of contemporary opinions, and certainly not into any fixed position; but rather into that confrontation with reality, especially the human reality, whose ethos Heraclitus formulated twenty-five centuries ago. First one must see, and then one must say, “how each thing truly is.”

The essay is central to the West. It is how the West thinks. Students should have the opportunity to be initiated into the essay as the practice and investigation of their own humanity.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 30, 2011 11:49 AM | Send

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