Conference/office hours schedule   Leave a comment

Conferences are as follows:

Wednesday, 9:15-10:15: Mitch, Tim, Katie, Rob
Wednesday, 12:00-1:00: Josh, Emmett, Alex, Olivia

Thursday, 9:30-10:30: Catherine, Cara, Zach, Brent
Thursday, 3:00-4:00: Damen, Andrew C, Ishmael, Kiernan

Friday, 9:15-10:15: Sidney, Andrew S, Nicole, Jerri

All conferences will be held in my office, Padelford B-26.

The remaining office hours for the quarter are:

Week 11: MW, 1-2 (normal)
Finals Week: Monday, 1-2, Monday, 8:30-9:30 p.m (online), Tuesday, 4-5 p.m. (online)

Posted December 5, 2011 by paigecm_engl298b in Uncategorized

Friday Announcements: Threshold Concepts Essay, MP3, Week9Blog   Leave a comment

Upcoming readings:

Here is the essay that you’ll need in order to write the third major paper for this course:

“Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising Within the Disciplines,” by Jan Meyer, and Ray Land

In class today I was referring to it as a 14 page essay — in fact, 3.5 pages are references and front matter, so it’s more like 10.5 pages.

We’ll be talking about this essay on Monday and Wednesday of next week. (Actually, we’ll be talking about it all through the rest of the quarter, but I mention it now because it’s our only reading for next week.)

The final reading we’ll have this quarter is a short story (approx 2800 words) by Ursula LeGuin, titled “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, (story at link)  which we’ll be reading and discussing specifically so that you have the opportunity to practice identifying political issues/messages/arguments that appear in fiction. As you’re developing ideas about threshold concepts in political theory, you might ask yourself: how would I have reacted to this story before I began this class? What would I have seen as its meaning and message? How does what I have learned so far in this quarter affect the way I am interpreting this story?

We will be discussing “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” on Monday after Thanksgiving.

Major Paper #3

Here are the instructions for the third paper (now with timeline included).


This blog post is meant to be useful for your third and final paper. In it, I’d like you to think back over the quarter and identify, as specifically as you can, what aspects of political theory and/or college writing have been the most difficult, or the easiest to grasp. (I recommend making sure you describe at least one easy, and one difficult aspect). You need to try and describe that aspect/concept/idea as clearly as you can, so that others can grasp it. You also need to try and identify why you think that this idea/concept/aspect was difficult for you to grasp.

You do not need to have read the “Threshold Concepts” essay before writing this post, nor do you need to frame the things you talk about in the language used by Meyer and Land (threshold concepts or troublesome knowledge). In fact, the ideas you’re describing may be clearer for your classmates if you don’t try to frame them in terms of Meyer and Land, yet. Think of this post as adding to the dataset of the blog.




Posted November 18, 2011 by paigecm_engl298b in Uncategorized

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MP 3 Rough Draft   3 comments

  1. Normative theory as a threshold concept
    1. Students usually think using the scientific method because of past experiences
    2. Normative theory is significantly different because it doesn’t examine what actually exists – instead it looks at what ought to be
  2. Normative theory changes political theory because it is the only critically legitimate means of analyzing how government should work
    1. You can’t argue about what the ideal form of government actually is because

i.      What ideal government consists of is subjective

ii.      Opinions based on current political systems are biased by already existing within a system

  1. Normative thought changes how Kropotkin and Socrates’ arguments look
    1. Look at Socrates’ claims for why he must obey the law

i.      How they look without thinking of it as normative theory

ii.      How they look as a normative theory

  1. Look at Kropotkin’s claims for why government is unnecessary

i.      How they look without thinking of it as normative theory

ii.      How they look as a normative theory

  1. How problematic knowledge arises from each situation, with examples from the blog of how people have struggled with Socrates and Kropotkin’s arguments


Note: the argument will flow from one paragraph to another rather than being stated in the introduction and then shown paragraph to paragraph (or at least that’s my current plan)


In order to mentally process political theory on an intellectually deep level, it’s necessary to understand that political theory is a normative process, and understand how it being a normative process makes political science fundamentally different from other (natural) sciences. Not understanding this difference can cause one’s conception of political theory to be based off the subconscious notion that it follows the scientific method, which is simply not the case. In most disciplines of knowledge explored in high school, people look at events, concepts, or texts that already exist in order to find relations, conclusions, or solutions from them (history looking at events, math at concepts, and English at texts). This is the ‘scientific method’ of thinking, but it is not the political theorist’s method of thinking. The pre-existing tendency to glean new understanding from things that already exist is the issue is a product of the society we live in and it gets in the way of understanding political theory. In order to understand political theory you have to understand the threshold concept that it is an examination of how government ought to exist by using ideas that expressly do not currently exist.

Posted December 5, 2011 by Sid in Uncategorized

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Mp3 Rough Draft   2 comments

In the prompt, it was suggested that we relate our threshold concept to college writing. I don’t see this happening at all with my concept in this paper, but if anybody has feedback on how to help make that happen, it’d be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Rough Draft

Posted December 5, 2011 by damenjc in Uncategorized

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MP3 rough draft   2 comments


Posted December 5, 2011 by kiernan in Uncategorized

Major Paper 3 Rough Draft   4 comments

MP 3 Rough Draft

I know that this draft still has a ways to go. I think my biggest place to improve upon would be specifics. I need a lot more concrete examples from the text. It was challenging for me to find lots of good examples which was slightly worrisome. I would also like suggestions on how to make the transitions better because as of now they are very poor and pretty much nonexistent. If any of you had difficulties with this concept at first I would also like to hear what they were so I might be able to add them to my paper if they happen to be different from mine. Thanks and see you all on Wednesday!

Posted December 5, 2011 by Mitchell in Uncategorized

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M.P #3: Natural Right   3 comments

M.P 3 Draft

Posted December 5, 2011 by Alexander Ong in Uncategorized

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Threshold Concepts Rough Draft   3 comments

For this essay, I chose to write about the normative theory as a threshold concept. There were a couple things I struggled with though. The first was my organization of the paper. I’m not sure how to change my introduction in order to have a paragraph on the threshold concept, and I wasn’t sure how to include the blog posts or if I needed to at all. I also struggled with expanding on my points about Goldman and Hobbes. I wasn’t sure what was necessary to include. Other than that, I know my conclusion needs a lot of work. So basically, any helpful criticism you can offer me is welcome and appreciated.

MP 3 Rough Draft

Posted December 5, 2011 by Catherinew64 in Uncategorized

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Threshold Concept   3 comments

Nicole Hobble

Rough Draft #3

November 30, 2011

Yeah, i’m not completely sure about this, but I’m anxious to see the feedback….


If I’ve learned anything over the duration of the quarter, it’s probably my lack of knowledge towards the idea of being direct. In order to really grasp a concept of an author, and express your understanding of their ideas, you have to write in the most direct form. My take on this whole, “threshold concept,” is that it’s supposed to help you open up a new way of thinking about something. And in my case, it’s always been my inability to be truly direct. I feel like anytime I would write a paper, we would be instructed to come right out with things, instead of leaving your statements “open ended.” It wasn’t until I was in the middle of writing a paper in Pol. S. 201 that I realized that I wasn’t even following the directions. I think that this is definitely an important concept to understand, not just for me, but also for present and future students.

It isn’t a completely difficult concept to grasp when writing in college, but this is an interesting threshold concept, because it’s something universal that all students learn. I encountered difficulty in this area because of my lack of understanding the authors and their material. That probably sounds pretty bazaar considering a majority of the time, you’re expected to read the material in order to actually succeed in the class. I’m not saying that I didn’t read the material. In all honesty, the material assigned was pretty lengthy, drawn out, and flat out boring. I wasn’t expecting everything to be all fun and games, but if I at least was interested in the subject, then maybe I would be able to appreciate the readings more. This doesn’t create a complete image of what my future in these types of political science classes, but I’m certainly expecting the same tendencies. This concept, in my opinion can lead you in many directions such as the authors “true” purpose or ideas, and a more clear understanding of what they really meant instead of assuming what they could’ve meant.

The concept of being “direct” is a key gateway into writing an effective paper in political science. You, as the writer, not only have to show your understanding of the subject or author, but the reader has to understand just as you do or what you’re trying to write. The idea of a paper is to show your knowledge of the material, not to make your writing sound fancy, or persuasive. Over the course of my time in our English class I’ve been able to critique several pieces of writing. This has helped me see my work in a different way as well. A vital part of becoming a better writer is taking criticism and improving your work. I’ve learned that by using others critique, I’m really learning. Without that, you really can never get any better. While I was able to review my peer’s work, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with the concept of being direct. While it was comforting to know that others were in the same boat, it also helped me to choose what threshold that I would focus on. I wanted to choose something that I knew not everyone understood as well as future students, because I know that college writing is completely different from high school. I wanted a threshold that I could explain from my understanding. I think that shows that I’ve clearly learned a key concept when it comes to college writing and the link to political science.

A big part of going to college is adapting to the transition from high school. Personally, I wouldn’t say it was that huge of a difference. It’s just the way you sign up for classes, and all these new concepts are thrown at you. It’s like all of a sudden we’re been told to write in a completely different form than we have been for the past 5 or 6 years. It wasn’t until I actually wrote my first official college paper, that I got honest feedback on my work. Back in high school you always got the cliché “Good,” or “Needs a little more work.” It was as if they hadn’t even taken the time to actually read my paper. Now, I would have to admit that I’m just as guilty as anything other student when it came to that. I wasn’t about giving them sufficient critique, but more of getting it over with. The problem with that is that you never really get anywhere and teaches you that you don’t really have to make an effort when it came to writing papers. It was just sort of a “No one really reads it, so why should I put effort into it,” type of mentality.

That idea, leads me to my next point; if you don’t care about your work, you won’t be successful. I think too many people kind of coast on the bare minimum. I had a somewhat similar attitude, until I later learned; no effort resulted in failure. When it comes to this type of threshold concept, you have to understand that directions are everything. When a prompt or a professor instructs you to be direct, be direct. You need to be clear with your words and your thoughts. To me, being direct is laying out all thoughts, without being the slightest open ended. With that, you leave your reader confused and implying things about your subject or ideas. This portal is one that needs to be understood, because to me, it’s vital.

For instance, one of the examples that I would use is our first paper that we wrote in Political Science 201. I kind of procrastinated a bit, but that’s beside the point. When it actually came down to writing the paper and revising it was a challenge. I didn’t actually bring my paper to class, which made it even more difficult. But, when I went to quiz section I was given more of a wake up call. Our instructor explained to us the importance of being direct in our writing. In Political Science, it was about being clear and concise with our ideas, by saying exactly what we meant, without leaving open spaces. I interpreted that as making sure we don’t leave our reader assuming or implying anything that we wouldn’t have thought otherwise. This concept was all about being clear. I think for students, it’s important because for most of my peers we intend on majoring in either political science or possibly LSJ, and in that mindset we must engage ourselves. The threshold concept is a way for someone to understand or see something in a different way. And, to write in different ways is part of that concept. We, as writers must adapt to new styles in which we are taught. I thought that this example was something that I knew other students in our class could relate to because we all were given the same prompt. It didn’t make a difference whether each and every one of us wrote a different topic, or had completely different sources; we still were given the same direction to go in.

The troublesome part about all of this is that everyone may not understand. This wasn’t exactly the easiest concept to work with, but I figured I would choose something I thought was valuable. In the article by Jan Meyer and Ray Land, they described troublesome knowledge as “knowledge that is conceptually difficult.” Whenever you learn something new, it’s never easy, generally. It usually takes time and effort to really understand new concepts. If anything, I would categorize this concept as being a form of “ritual knowledge.” In the article, Perkins, (1999), describes it “Like part of a social or an individual ritual…[the routine that execute to get a particular result].” To me, I think that being direct, once learned could be considered ritual knowledge based on the fact that when you continue to write several papers, which you will, then you will repeatedly be in that same mindset, therefore using the same concept. But, the problem with that is that students may use that concept, however not being fully direct. They might write what they think the author really means, but at the same time not even understanding what they’re writing about. It’s just as easy to write a paper, without conceptually understanding that theory, which leads us straight into the troublesome knowledge that I was speaking of. I know, in the past I’ve written plenty of papers, where I understood what I considered surface knowledge, without actually considering other aspects of that area. It’s kind of like segregation; we may pass laws to desegregate and say that we accept that, but people still won’t understand. People won’t understand that “all men and women were created equal.” Now, that might be a little off, but it makes sense to me. There are plenty of issues that are swept under the carpet, and never considered because of troublesome knowledge. I would say that’s an even bigger picture to look at. But, in terms of being direct, it’s something we can actually capture and refine.

Furthermore, this concept was definitely valuable enough to bring to attention of the students. This to me is all about criticism and bettering yourself as a writer. It’s something that should be recognized, because we, as students, are all in need of improvement, even our English teacher as she pointed out. That’s beside the point, but the troublesome knowledge that I pointed out is pertinent to the cross over into understanding this concept. I know that my fellow peers could benefit from this if they have not taken this into account already. Writing about this concept has helped me understand it that much more. Like I said before, you can learn something, but still not fully understand something. I’m still at that stage. This is just another thing that makes you think twice and whether you really did grasp that concept. You may say you were direct and wrote what you thought was a clear thought of that author. But, that troublesome knowledge always comes back and makes you think; maybe I didn’t actually write or explain everything that I could’ve, but that is why I brought this topic out.


Posted December 5, 2011 by passionatefighter17 in Uncategorized

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Threshold Concept   1 comment

Please feel free to give me the feedback I need, I was not able to work on an outline because I was out of town in a family meeting therfore I need a better understanding of putting together my ideas. I look forward to your comments and conferences. Thanks

Engl 298 B
Ishmael Coronado
MP 3 Rough Draft
December 5, 2011
Threshold Concepts
For this paper, I will write about the transformative threshold concept on the discipline of college writing. Meaning that once you understand the potential effect, it relies on student behavior and learning to shift in the perception of a subject. This means that it is difficult when writing about different political views of authors when you have your own. In a sense I will be demonstrating the threshold that was really difficult for me thru this quarter, by using the article of Jan Meyer and Ray Land and Emma Goldman on Anarchism.
The definition of the college writing is troublesome knowledge because it is a new way of writing and engaging the text into more depth that what was taught in high school. It can be difficult coming from different areas of learning, customs and strategies that are brought with you as you graduate from high school. As you start writing you are introduced and assigned to understand the concepts of different authors and critical thinkers. Some of which you can relate, others which you find that their ways of belief are out of this world. When we were assigned to read Anarchism: “what it really stands for” by Emma Goldman, her aspect and point of view of the government was really different than what I had. First and foremost, I could never imagine a society without government; it was even more challenging to grasp the claim “Government, the dominion of the human conduct, represent the stronghold of man’s enslavement and all the horrors it entails.” (Goldman 18). I couldn’t understand it at first, because I was born in a democratic society that has always lived by the government. At times I would ask myself how I could write in her perspective, if I don’t know how her world looked like. This came with difficulty in the first major paper where we had to create a discussion between Socrates who abided by the law because of tacit consent, and Goldman who believed in individualism and self-government. I really couldn’t find the way, because what I believed she would say was not the evidence in the text. The aspect of her philosophy that was easy to grasp was the fact that anarchism brought man to the consciousness of himself, in a sense I do agree that we should always worry about our wellbeing, but toward the law I couldn’t see myself living without government.
In effect, the question really was had these authors and their political ideas changed in my perspective? It may had changed the way I looked at certain subjects but what t most affected me on was knew knowledge and ideas on the political issues. At first I was very spectacle of reading all these complicated authors but then analyzed the way they think. I also try to see how their surroundings might have affected them in having that certain criticism.
In conclusion, this threshold concept of transformative

Posted December 5, 2011 by Ishmael Coronado in Uncategorized

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Threshold Concept RD   3 comments

Rob Oser_MP3_RD

Hey guys, here’s my rough draft.

A few things to look for in the paper are the conversation about Locke and how understanding his theory was similar to Hobbes.  I don’t know if I made a clear connection between the two regarding threshold concepts and transformative ideas.  Also I was a little confused on how to integrate the blog posts, so if you have any ideas to improve that paragraph they would be helpful.  The last thing I would appreciate input on is if there is anything important I could add to the paper, specifically in describing the threshold concept.

I look forward to reading all of yours and thanks for all the comments and help this quarter.




Posted December 5, 2011 by sportsoser in Uncategorized

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MP3 Rough Draft   3 comments

Olivia Long

November 27, 2011

Professor Morgan

English 298B

Paper 3.1

Meyer and Land use threshold concepts to open new ways of thinking and therefore new ways of understanding. A threshold concept “can be considered as akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously  inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way  of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress”.  In this essay, I argue that the threshold concept of the self, particularly the thin self versus the thick self, has allowed me to better understand the philosophies of Plato and Emma Goldman.  First, I am going to elaborate on my threshold concept of the self by saying exactly what I mean when I say the thick versus the thin self.  Secondly, I will write about how the concept of the self can be applied to Emma Goldman.  Thirdly, I am going to draw parallels of the threshold concept of the self to Socrates.  Lastly, I will talk about how the concept of the self relates directly to
political theory and why this is important.

The concept of what “the self” entails can be rather difficult to define; the human is a very complex being. We are constantly defining or stereotyping others, myself included.   As a threshold concept and for the purposes of this essay, however, I am defining “theself” as either being a thin self or a thick self.  The thin self is an individual who chooses his own commitments.  This type of individual can sustain a definite distinction between his roles and his commitments.  Opposed to the thin self, the thick self is an individual who is defined by his commitments.  This type of individual cannot sustain a distinction between his roles and his commitments; his “real self” is defined by his commitments.  This threshold concept
is vital in reading certain items in political theory; it has helped broaden my understanding of how and why humans operate as a thick self or a thin self.

In the philosophy of Emma Goldman, she displays the concept of the thin self.  Goldman focuses on anarchism, which in summary, is a philosophy that is against anything in which subordinates the
individual.  She says “Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and the society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void, since they can be fulfilled only by man’s subordination”, showing her emphasis on the individual and her view of the importance of each individual making his own way in the world.
This is important to notice she advocates for an individualist view in society; every person has the responsibility to liberate himself, especially from the burdens of religion, government, and property. Goldman also goes on to say “It matters not whether it is government by divine right or majority rule. In every instance its aim is the absolute subordination of the individual”. In a further
emphasis, it is extremely clear to see how important individualism is to Goldman; she believes every human should think and understand for himself.  Goldman would be in strict opposition to the concept of the thick self. I believe she would see this concept as ludicrous; she would not understand why someone should ever be obligated to obey the laws in a society.  Her whole philosophy with anarchism is how all government is coercive, and therefore it is illegitimate. Shebelieves humans should be able to distinguish between their real selves and the roles they play in society.

In the philosophy of Plato, Socrates displays the concept of the thick self.  Socrates is put on trial, and he is forced to withstand accusations from the jury.  Even though the claims made against him are false, Socrates is sentenced to death. He feels
as though he has an obligation to accept his sentence; he has lived in Athens for seventy years and therefore has tacitly consented to the laws in the society. Socrates he has an obligation to die, and to set an example to the rest of the society that citizens are obligated to die if it is in accordance to the laws.  In direct opposition to thephilosophy of Goldman, the whole concept of the thick self is evident with
Socrates.  Socrates does not see himselfas an individual, rather he sees himself as living in more of a collectivist society in which he is obligated to obey the laws.  Instead of just relying on himself, Socrates
would go out into the city and ask others questions.  He believed learning from others would result in truth and wisdom, known as the Socratic Method. Socrates is defined by
commitments, and he cannot properly distinguish between his real self and the role he plays in society.  In short, the “real” Socrates is his commitments, there is no distinction.

I consider the threshold concept of the self to be complete troublesome knowledge to me before learning about it in this
political theory class.  I have heard vague definitions of what “the self” actually entails, but I had never heard it described in terms of the thick self and the thin self.   Therefore, I would describe the concept of
the self as alien knowledge, a form of troublesome knowledge.  Alien knowledge can be defined as that which “comes from a perspective that conflicts with our own”.  In summary, alien knowledge, also known as
foreign knowledge, allows us to understand a different perspective than that of which we already know.  The concept of the thick and thin self has slightly altered my perception of political
theory.  Instead of just defining what kind of person the philosopher or character is, I have been able to categorize them as either a thick or thin self, which helps me to better understand their
entire self.   The concept of the self has not only affected my thinking of political theory, but it has altered my perception of human nature as well.  I can define humans, mostly depending on what society in which they live, as either a
thick self or a thin self.  For example, most of us living today in the United States are considered to be thin selves; we live in an individualistic society and most are able to tell the difference between his real person and his roles. In contrast, most of those living in China today are considered to be thick selves; they are living in more of a collectivist society and cannot distinguish between their real roles and their commitments.

In conclusion, the concept of the self has opened my eyes to a myriad of new ideas. If I had never learned about the thin self and the thick self, I know I would not have learned as much as I could have in my political theory class.  I now know how to define Goldman as the thin self because she believes in personal power; she does not believe in anything that subordinates the individual.  With Socrates, it is now easy to define him as a thick self.  He believes he has an obligation to die for his city because he has tacitly consented to the laws; there is no distinction between his real self and the roles he plays in society. Meyer and Land, in addition, have helped my understanding in political theory.  Before reading their essay, I was not clear on the issue of threshold concepts, but now it has helped me in seeing the views of Goldman and Socrates more clearly. Their essay allowed me to find the concept of the self, and I am now  well informed how to apply it to literature as well as to society today.

Posted December 5, 2011 by Liv in Uncategorized

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