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Course Documents

Paper 2: FAQ

Q: Does my essay have to cover all the questions under "Questions to Consider?

A: No. These are just to get you thinking, to give you an idea of what kind of ideas would be meaningful to explore. In fact, it's better to choose one or two things you're interested in rather than scattering your attention across many ideas. (See Austin's Rules of Thumb, "Develop your ideas")

Q: Since this is another introductory essay for the book, will I need to explain what will be in the book?

No. The Preface has (theoretically) already said what will be in the book. The function of this "critical introduction" is to introduce the author to Lin's ideas, weigh their merits (i.e. consider their strengths and weaknesses) and leave the reader wanting to know what we have to say in our 2019 edition.

I think of this last point as "creating a space" for us to enter the conversation. Reading this essay should help the reader understand why our ideas matter, why there's a need for a book like ours.

Q: So does that mean I should focus mainly on the weaknesses of Lin's ideas?

Not necessarily. Note that the English word "critique" does not mean the same thing as the Chinese 批判. "Critique" means weighing pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, while 批判 focuses more on the negative. That said, if you said Lin's ideas were 100% perfect, it would be hard to get the reader excited about reading our book. A good critique will probably include some balance of like and dislike, good and bad.

Q: Wait... since I'm focusing on just one chapter, should I imagine that our book is only about that subject?

No. Our book will be about whatever range of subjects we decide on together. I've asked you to choose one chapter so that you have something to focus on, and so that you don't need to read all of My Country and My People