What to Focus on This Week
Welcome to week 3!
So far in this course we have covered important introductory material regarding the development and perpetuation of gender inequality. In Professor Cooney’s lectures this week, she will continue this discussion by defining patriarchy and demonstrating how geography and the invention of private property can affect the distribution of power within a society and perhaps also lead to the conceptualization of sexual morality.
Starting this week and continuing on for the duration of the course, we will now begin examining how the concepts we have covered thus far manifest in a series of regional case studies. Professor Cooney will discuss Queen Puabi’s burial that dates to the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2450 BCE) in Mesopotamia. Pay close attention to how exactly Professor Cooney uses the material evidence to better understand this woman’s access to power. How does she make conclusions concerning Queen Puabi’s access to power and the possible restrictions placed on her? Why has she been labeled a queen? What are the limitations of the dataset we are working with? What role did this particular type of political system play in Puabi’s ability to garner such economic wealth (and potentially political clout)? These are the types of questions you will want to have in the back of your mind as you engage any line of evidence in this class moving forward and is an exercise you might be able to use in your own research project. For further examples of how to work with primary sources, check out the “optional” videos as well!
Keep in mind that this week is about both Mesopotamia and the Levant. Many of the assigned readings are from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (which references mainly locations in the Levant) and present a series of narratives on different women (Deborah, Yael, Jezebel, Athaliah). Use the following questions to help you conduct a close reading of each text:
What is the genre of each text?
Who do you think wrote each text? Can you identify their biases?
Do you think these texts are contemporary? Do you think they are portraying events as they happened, or are reflecting on past events?
What role is each woman playing in the narrative? Where does her characterization/portrayal fall within the larger narrative structure? What do you think are the motives of the authors in their portrayal of each woman?
These will be discussed on the board this week.
Last week we worked to turn a research topic into a research question. This week, you will work to further develop the research question of most interest to you. Once you have further revised your research question based on the feedback provided by your peer and any discussions we may have had during office hours, it is important to consider what other sources are available for you to complete your chosen project. It is a rare thing to select a topic that has never been written about before. Chances are you will find that your topic has a rich history of scholarship. As such, critically evaluating and responding to the previous work of other scholars–deciding whether or not you agree with the interpretations or conclusions they draw–is a key skill you will need when completing your final project. You should already be in the process of evaluating your 4 primary and 4 secondary sources for your annotated bibliography. The next step in this process will be to formulate your own opinion on a topic.
After identifying a minimum of four primary and four secondary sources, you will need to evaluate each source for its legitimacy, relevance, limitation, and use for your project. Use the Annotated Bibliography worksheet to help you generate your annotated bibliography.
Once you have revised your research question and generated your annotated bibliography, the next step in your project will be to begin thinking about how to present your argument and the research you have completed in a coherent and convincing way to your reader. Outlining provides a way for you to organize your ideas on paper and think about the evidence you will use to support your argument. A good place to start is to look at the structure of your secondary sources. How have these scholars organized each paragraph, as well as their overall argument? For those who are producing a podcast, think about what makes for a great podcast. Maybe listen to a few podcasts that tend to present arguments and think about what makes the argument easy to follow from the perspective of a listener.
For papers and podcasts alike, each paragraph or segment should present a mini-argument that will contribute to your overall thesis (remember, this is the declarative statement responding to your research question). Note that you cannot create an outline without a thesis statement, so please use the resources for “Developing a Thesis Statement” in the Final Project Resources folder to help you with this. Once you have a working thesis statement, begin to think about how you will argue your thesis. I recommend writing out all of the main points you will need to make and then place them in a sequence so that each one is building off of the previous one. Once you have created a rough outline to sequence the main points, think about the organization at the paragraph level. What evidence will allow you to argue each point? I have posted a number of resources in the Final Project Resources folder to aid you in developing your outline, so please read them.