Final reflection paper

Posted on May 16, 2010


The assignments in “Archaeology of sex and gender” build gradually to give students experience in reviewing the scholarly literature already selected for the course; finding new scholarly literature on a topic of interest to them; working with others to develop and present additional course content; and finally, in what I call a reflection paper, synthesize what they have learned.

To do this, each student is asked to read one single-authored book that is not necessarily discussed in the course itself, and uses it as a basis to reflect on the content presented in the course, making new connections and consolidating perspectives presented:

Your final task is to relate what you have learned to one longer study in which sex or gender in the past was a focus. You will already have selected a monograph (book-length work with a single focus), had it approved by teaching staff, and have read it.

In 2-3 double-space typed pages (500 to 750 words) reflect on how the author(s) of this monograph relate to the concepts discussed in the course. Cite specific connections to terms defined or debated in specific lectures. Feel free to refer to group presentation topics (using the group titles on the course website). Cite specific articles you read or discussed. Identify the kind of evidence– documents, visual media, or other materials– used in the study. What questions did the author raise? what ones would you still like to know more about? are there contradictions with other materials from this course? convergences?

Like the selection of an additional journal article for Benchmark 1, this assignment lets students explore their own interests, this time in more depth. The assignments also asks students to delineate the ways that the course topics might continue to be explored, countering the artificial sense of closure that might otherwise occur.

The approval process by the teaching staff is mainly designed to ensure that the selected book actually will allow the student to successfully complete the assignment. For this assignment– as is also the case for the final group project– “the past” is defined as any time at all where what scholars know is derived indirectly from documents, images, or objects, not from direct observation of people’s actions. This allows students to introduce historical topics from the late 20th century that may be among their own interests.

By asking students one last time to consider explicitly the kinds of evidence– and thus kinds of methods– that different authors use, the final paper encourages explicit recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of scholarship on sex and gender in the past.