Tutor profile: Rachael A.
Why do college writing or rhetoric courses teach "style" if everyone's writing style is unique and professional writers just go ahead and break all of these "rules" anyway?
I've always told students that the stylistic "rules" they are typically taught in writing courses are a bit like that code from Pirates of the Carribbean -- they are really more like "guideslines." The purpose of studying style is actually not to present you with a list of hard-and-fast rules that you must memorize and thereafter adhere to. It's more about teaching you the process of examining your writing very closely and thinking about why you are making the rhetorical choices you are making. Do these choices draw attention to themselves, and so distract from the points you are trying to make? Or do they help immerse a reader into your argument, the way the right kind of background music helps immerse you into the scene of a movie?
Subject: Library and Information Science
Why are archives collections always so different and difficult to navigate compared to the rest of the library?
Archives and/or Special Collections departments house rare, unique, and historically significant material that is often one-of-a-kind and sometimes very fragile, so the the procedures for accessing them have to take into consideration the safety of the object itself, as well as a researcher's ability to access it. These different procedures, as well as the differences in records organization that reflect the unique and typically un-published nature of archival documents may take some getting used to, but please don't let that scare you away from using primary source research in your academic work. Archives are typically very open to and welcoming even of younger undergraduates. You don't have to have a "special," "official," or "assigned" reason to be there, and archivists will help you guide you through the process, even if you just want to look at some old books for fun. The most important thing is to ask questions, because you will not be allowed to browse stacks. Archives are a part of the library where you can't just "figure it out" on your own -- you will be working in partnership with, and thus need the help of, whoever is staffing the desk.
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is a very specific answer to a very specific question. This question should either be generated by your close reading of a text or have guided your research process prior to writing a paper. Another way to think of a thesis statement is that it is a single sentence which more-or-less contains the gist, the end conclusion, of your entire paper. The rest of your paper should proceed to elaborate on, justify the thought process behind, and attempt to prove the claim(s)/conclusion(s) you offer in the thesis statement.
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