I. Content and Organization

A. Your papers should be 7,500 – 9,000 words, inclusive of footnotes, but exclusive of bibliography. Footnotes (not endnotes) and bibliography must follow the guidelines contained in the Chicago Manual of Style, which may be found in book form in the department lounge, or online, in summary form. If you utilize the latter, be sure to follow the patterns for N and B, not T and R.

B. Be sure to include a clearly demarcated introduction and conclusion. The introduction should articulate the problem or issue you intend to study, and include a statement of the methods you intend to employ in studying it. Use subheadings to highlight the various sections of your paper. The conclusion should return to the problem or issue with which the essay began, and try to assess what we have learned, and what problems or issues (if any) still remain to be resolved. Material may need to be cut or compressed in order to expand the conclusion. The arrangement of material should convey an overall sense of balance and coherence.

II. Form and Presentation

A. Papers must be double-spaced; left margin 1-1/4″ and top, bottom, and right side margins 1″.

B. Include a title page with the title in 18-point type centered on the top half of the page, and your name, “Senior Integrative Exercise,” and the date of submission on separate lines flush right on the bottom half of the page.

C. Write an abstract of no more than 300 words (Cf. Booth 197-198). Type it single-spaced and put it below the title and your name on an unnumbered page preceding page one (see sample abstracts below).

D. Number all pages except page one. The title and abstract pages are not counted in numbering.

E. Work for an interesting and effective prose style, one marked by clarity, well-chosen words, variety in sentence structure, etc.

F. Work for egalitarian language. Increasingly, editors of religious and secular publications are rejecting sexist forms of language, including the generic use of the masculine. The trick is to develop a style that accommodates this moral concern without awkwardness.

G. Quotations need to be introduced and integrated into one’s own argument. This differs from weaving or pasting quotations together to make points. It is important always to identify the source of a quotation.

  • NOT: Both Marxism and Christianity seek to create “… a more just, more mature society.”
  • BUT: According to Miguez Bonino, both Marxism and Christianity seek to create “… a more just, more human society.”

Long quotations (sometimes called block quotations): Indent ½ inch (1 inch for first line of a new paragraph within the quotation) and single space quotations that are longer than 4 lines. Do not use a different font size and do not add “ ” marks unless there is a quote-within-a-quote.

Brackets [  ], not parentheses (  ), should be used for changes in or additions to quoted material.

Avoid automatically starting a new paragraph after using a block quote, since these usually require further comment or explication. When a paragraph or subsection ends with a quotation, a writer loses an opportunity to make a smooth transition to the next idea.

Unlike parenthetical citation, note numbers go outside all sentence punctuation, “as follows.”

H. If you wish to cite the work of one author (original source) as found in that of another (secondary source), your reference must indicate the work in which you found the material as well as the original source.

III. Criteria for Distinction in Comps

  1. Methodologically sophisticated and self-conscious
  2. Thoroughly researched, with clear mastery of material
  3. Subtle and nuanced in argument
  4. Exceptionally well-written, in polished and graceful prose
  5. Highly integrative, effectively synthesizing work in the major
  6. Creative: intellectually adventurous or risky
  7. Polished, effective oral presentation
  8. Has met all deadlines and been conscientious about fulfilling all requirements of the process.

Three Sample Abstracts

I. Klass, 1996 (298 words)

This paper explores how the position and status of women changes doctrinally from the orthodox tradition of Brahmanical Hinduism to the heterodox faiths of Buddhism and Jainism that formed during the mid- first millennium B.C.E. in northern India. Starting with the early Vedic tradition and the coming of the Indo-Aryan peoples to the subcontinent, I examine shifts in religious doctrine and corresponding shifts in the social and spiritual status of women in light of socio-political changes taking place during this period. Taking as the basis for my theoretical framework the observation that in general women were associated with the body, sexuality, and the mundane world, while men were associated with the mind, the spiritual, and the transcendent world, I attempt to examine how this gender-based dichotomy plays itself out in each tradition. I conclude that women were associated with the mundane world and men with the spiritual world from the time of the Vedas, but that these spheres overlapped somewhat in the early period. The increasing complexity of religious ideology and the growing tension between the mundane and transcendent worlds, as evidenced by the rise of asceticism, resulted in the polarization of this gendered duality. Consequently, by the time of India’s Axial Age women were seen as the antithesis of the ascetic path and the embodiment of all that is to be transcended. The Axial philosophies of the Upanishads, Buddhism, and Jainism supported this construction of the feminine. The heterodox sects of Buddhism and Jainism, while advocating the spiritual equality of men and women, did not advocate social equality, thereby keeping intact the gendered world-view and the corresponding hierarchy of male over female. The paper ends with some reflections on why the Buddha and Mahavira might have supported the patriarchal construction of the female as embodying samsaric existence.

J. Riske, 2002 (253 words)

This paper examines Kierkegaard’s contention that “truth is subjectivity” in light of several of his pseudonymous works. Following the progression in his works through the aesthetic, ethical, and finally the religious methods of finding truth, I trace the development of Kierkegaard’s conception of truth. By doing so, I show that many treatments of Kierkegaard’s theory of truth—as entailing becoming more fully human through the apprehension of “livable” truths—fail to go “further” than the overtly philosophical works, Philosophical Fragments and The Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments, and therefore fail to apprehend either the full scope of the development of his theory or the final, fundamental importance of God in that theory. I take Robert L. Perkins and Peter J. Mehls as representative of the more philosophically inclined commentators on Kierkegaard, who are quick to applaud Kierkegaard for his unique characterization of truth, but who are in the end reluctant to spell out the overtly religious message enmeshed in his theory. By employing a method of reading Kierkegaard that pays attention to his many literary devices while staying true to the philosophical import of his work, I show that “truth as subjectivity” is an idea that is developed in, and best understood in light of, other pseudonymous writings, and is presented in its fullest form in Kierkegaard’s most religious work, The Sickness Unto Death. It is in this book that the reader comes across the most explicit understanding of the role of Christianity in elevating the human to his or her full potential.

J. Chen, 2007 (207 words)

This paper examines the role of food in Hui Chinese and African-American Muslim minority communities. Testing Katherine Ulrich’s elaboration of Mary Douglas’ theory that physical boundaries of the body are analogous to social boundaries with evidence from the Chinese and African-American Muslim minority communities reveals that physical food taboos do indeed demarcate social boundaries. In the two communities examined, the Islamic proscription against pork emerges as the strongest example of how food taboo serves as a vital tool in maintaining distinct identity and group solidarity. Drawing primarily from research by Barbara Pillsbury and Maris Boyd Gillette, the Hui Chinese case study argues that the pork taboo serves community needs to distinguish pure from impure and to erect a barrier against the non-Muslim Han. In the African-American case study, Edward Curtis’ argument for the black body as a symbol for black fate is combined with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad’s dietary teachings to exemplify how African-Americans use the pork taboo to purify and reclaim control of their bodies. For both the Chinese and African-American communities, food taboos are central in preserving community integrity through providing a way for individuals to physically and socially create boundaries separating pure, taboo-observing Muslims from impure, non-taboo observing outsiders.

Checklist for Comps

________ Title Page, unnumbered          

________ Abstract Page, unnumbered

________ Page 1 unnumbered, but other pages numbered

________ Notes (footnotes rather than endnotes) follow Chicago Manual of Style format.

________ Bibliography (beginning on separate page) of all items used in the preparation of the paper.

________ Annotations supplied for at least five (5) entries on the bibliography.

________ Submit a Word document of your REVISED COMPS ESSAY to Moodle.

________ Email a POSTER IMAGE to Kristen Askeland. This is an image to be used in your poster to publicize your comps presentation. The image has to be either something you created and own, or a “public domain image,” whose copyright has expired or never existed in the first place. If you don’t know how to find such an image, please consult the chair.

Note: Papers that lack an essential element (e.g., abstract, bibliography) or that fail to meet basic standards for academic work (e.g., full of sentence fragments, spelling, punctuation, or typographical errors) will be returned.