Three Noteworthy Papers

(This blog is inspired by JHU_Gen’s really great post from last semester- make sure to check it out!)

Looking back over all of my blog posts for the past year, I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time either reminiscing sappily or gushing over extracurriculars. So, here’s a sneak peak into pretty much all I do academically- write papers.

Paper #1

Class: Expository Writing: Persuasion and Dissent

Semester: Freshman Fall

Title: Police Interference in Occupy Wall Street

Length: 11 pages

Stress level (1-5): About a three. I’d already written a few papers for the class, and I managed to finish the whole rough draft in one night.

Basic Argument: As evident from its indistinct ambitions, complex global reach, and muddled successes and failures, the movement isn’t simple. To oversimplify OWS even slightly, as Madrick seems to have done, is to overlook key nuances within its argument and potential for influence. Therefore, the critical question becomes: if NYPD brutality is not necessarily the sole reason for the fall of OWS, how does its collapse inform discussion about the movement as a whole?

Favorite line of the paper: Occupy Wall Street was an important social movement which stimulated as much change and discourse as it could, before succumbing to a predestined expiration. (This line is actually the last line of the paper, and it never changed through the revision process. That ending to 11 pages was a perfect “mic drop” moment for me.)

My thoughts: I believe that this was the third paper that I ever wrote in college. It totally reshaped my perception of academic writing. This paper taught me how to properly negotiate a conversation between multiple scholars and sources. Having an in-depth understanding of Occupy Wall Street has also been super helpful for my political science studies in general. When in doubt, I always relate a reading or case study to the protests in Zuccotti Park.

Paper #2

Class: Power and Democracy in the American City

Semester: Sophomore Spring

Title: Urban Participation: Fenster’s Method

Length: 5 pages

Stress level (1-5): 4. I put this paper off for way too long.

Basic Argument: In the following, I endeavor to apprehend urban intersectional feminism through Fenster’s lens, ultimately challenging her approach to the right of participation within the city.

Favorite line of the paper: Ultimately, Fenster soundly uses her evaluation of urban gendered power structures to reject the Lefebvrian concept of the right to a city. (This line is pretty straightforward, but I felt like such a knowledgeable student writing it.)

My thoughts: Before this paper was due, my TA created an entire ½ hour long PowerPoint presentation on how writing should be done. That presentation totally psyched me out; the whole time I was drafting the paper, I was second-guessing my arguments. But, when I finally turned it in, the TA emailed me back almost immediately and praised my work. She really appreciated the direction I took, and even asked me to present it to the class as a whole. I was definitely smiling with relief as I read her sweet message. Even though it’s not necessarily the best work I’ve ever done, I think I’ll always look back at it fondly.

Paper #3

Class: Global Governance

Semester: Freshman Fall

Title: Implications of the WHO’s EVD Prediction

Length: 10 pages

Stress level (1-5): 6. Definitely the most arduous assignment I’ve been given at Hopkins so far.

Basic Argument: By examining the scientific process the World Health Organization used to determine how many individuals will report Ebola Virus Disease in the coming weeks, the ways this estimation is flawed, and the serious social repercussions an emphasis on this indicator could have, it is clear that it is in the best interest of public health officials and news organizations to treat any WHO estimation as a vague guess.

Favorite line from the paper: Since so much math to determine the projected spread of EVD relied on precise dates and time periods, this tendency for human error at AFRO has the potential to hurt the validity of the WHO’s findings. (It is unreal how much research I had to do to make this super crucial part of my argument come together.)

My Thoughts: Right before this paper was assigned, I found out that I’d pretty much bombed the midterm for this class. I spent more hours on this paper than I ever have on any test, project, or paper in my life. For days, my computer was absolutely cluttered with tabs of research loaded in the background. In the end, my professor was still able to pick apart a few bits of my argument. For my first proper research paper though, I’m still so proud of it.

Overall takeaways: I really do need to backup all of these files on my computer ASAP, and I will actively try to come up with more interesting titles for all of my future papers.

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