Author Archives: mcleared

About mcleared

Westtown School ‘18, newly recruited history nerd

What have I written? Why does it matter? — Ethan

It’s the end of the semester, and I have 47 pages of polished writing. What have I shown?

I believe I’ve given an example of a mutually positive relationship between the U.S. government and a mainstream print media outlet, due to which the public reaction to a foreign policy event was to some degree determined by the coverage given by the print media outlet. I have demonstrated the connection between the foreign policy aims of American foreign policy leaders during and after the Six-Days’ War and those advocated and legitimized by the print coverage of the War by the New York Times. Further, I have explicated the symbiotic relationship between sources of information thought to be authoritative and credible, and the disseminators of that information, in order to substantiate the logical basis for that relationship in this specific instance of foreign policy. Continue reading

First Draft: Complete — Ethan

It’s a pretty good feeling, staring at page 47 of 47, at a draft that’s . . . rough, admittedly, but that also feels finished, feels completed. My mentor T. Olga has been looking over it this past weekend, and I’m anticipating her feedback and looking forward to refining my writing into a second draft. I’m sticking to my timeline well so far — I met my goal of finishing the first draft by May, and the second and third drafts by the time of my evaluation.

Another piece of my subsequent drafts will be formatting, of course, a different in-text citation style, and graphics. I haven’t had much experience with graphics before, but seeing as I’ve done intense analytical research into newspaper articles, parsing through them for several weeks, it would be useful to the reader if I condensed all that reading into a chart marking the evolution of the angle of the NYT’s coverage. Having done a preliminary ‘X’ chart, this is what the coverage looks like:

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 9.22.47 AM.png

From this, it’s visually clear that the coverage shifts from a description of the conflict itself to a nearly uniform coverage of the diplomatic battle that went on in the UN in the aftermath, with a particular focus on the Soviet and Israeli delegates, Alexsei Kosygin and Abba Eban.

There is also the matter of visualizing the relevant history and foreign policy. I took some inspiration for this from the Gantt chart I created back in sophomore year as part of T. Steve’s Design-Engineering Seminar. It’s meant to be used as an ultra-specific task planner, with flexibility to assign different types of tasks to different people over an indefinite period of time. Here’s how I adapted it for my purposes:

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 11.21.20 AM.png

Lastly, a quick update on publishing options: there is one for which a submission is due by May 15th, but with everything else going on up until the end of May, I won’t feel ready to submit for publication until the last few weeks of school.

 

Overall, exciting things all around going into the last month of fine tuning and reworking.

 

— EDM

Ça va . . . (part 3) — Ethan

Eight more pages! I’m finished with the entire media section, and started the synthesis of the history and the media narrative. Being at this point in the first draft is a similar feeling to being at the same point in my outline: I can envision the conclusion of my argument, and that’s supremely exciting. So far, this section has been the most fun to organize and structure, mainly because it’s my own — my own argument, that I get to craft to be the strongest it can be.

I’m doing well at listening to my willingness to write at any given time, and writing a few paragraphs here and there as I feel like it, or working through what I’ve written and rearranging points to my argument, and this seems to be how this particular paper wants to be written. Creating content still takes priority, most of the time, but for this section especially from time to time I spend a little bit here and there refining it.

I expect to finish the first draft by the end of the month, and then it’ll be time for T. Olga to sink her teeth into it — her words, not mine.

So it goes . . .

 

— EDM

Ça va . . . (part 2) — Ethan

I’ve written about twelve more pages (bringing the total to 35) summarizing the eleven front-page articles published by the NYT over the course of one month about the Six-Days’ War, while following some crucial themes throughout them all. This section of writing ended up being written differently than the historical section: I wrote for one to two hours each day that I worked on it, as opposed to one long burst of 4-5 hours, and I had it finished in three days

As they are now, I’m not 100% happy with the article summaries. Though I followed through with my intention to go through them one by one, in the order they were published, with a general discussion at the end about what they left the reader with, right now the summaries feel a bit repetitive and clunky. However, it’s difficult to weave too much connection into them because that material would be better suited for the discussion.

In this situation, the first-draft mentality prioritizes creating more content as opposed to refining existing content — for a woodworking analogy, perfecting the article summaries now, in the first draft, would be like fully sanding a piece of wood before I made all the cuts and carved my joints. What that means is I can’t be too attached to perfection at this stage — perfection, or as close as I can get to it, will come on its own in later drafts.

My progress is much the same as it was at the time of my last blog post. I’m still pulling from my outline, which has been incredibly helpful, as all outlines should be, still writing my first draft, and still enjoying the process. One difference is that now I’m beginning to consider options for publishing this paper, which T. Olga and I talked about at the beginning of the semester.

Well, so far, so good, I just need to keep writing — first the discussion on the articles and then the fun part: my very own argument that links the history and media together.

 

— EDM

Ça va . . . – Ethan

Just a simple post for this week. The title captures it pretty well — ‘it goes’ . . .

Today I finished up the history section of the first draft, and it stands at 21 pages, which is . . . a bit longer than I expected, and also a bit longer than I would like. I suppose it is better to have more material and need to whittle it down than it is to have too little material and to add fluff to make your desired length. Judging from how much of my outline is taken up by history, I’m estimating the first draft will end up being somewhere around 50 pages long — far longer than I want. The following drafts, then, will exercise my ability to condense and simplify while maintaining structure and not losing meaning.

I have an interesting relationship with this paper — it seems to want to be written in fits and spurts. I spent about four and a half hours today writing roughly six pages of text — my first writing session in nearly a week — which took most of the afternoon, and now I’m content to leave it for a few days before diving into the next section: the narrative set by the NYT’s coverage of the war. I’ll mull over how to attack it over the next few days, and probably later this week I’ll sit down and hammer out a course of action. I’m grateful that I left myself this luxury of time to be able to think about how I’ll formulate my writing. . .

Long research papers all have different characters, but I think I’m figuring this one out — how it behaves, how it wants to be written — and I’m learning to work with it, one section at a time.

So for now, ça va.

 

— EDM

Navigating the World of Drafts – Ethan

Spring break has seen me write like mad to complete my outline, which now stands at 32 pages of bulleted goodness. I’ve chosen to separate the paper into three sections on a broad level: the history, the media coverage, and the discussion/original theory. Beyond that, the majority of the writing that has gone into my first draft — fourteen pages currently — has been in the department of introduction, materials / methods, and review of literature.

The introduction has always been somewhat of a mysterious beast for me; it takes its time in deciding when it’s going to be written, and often comes not all at once, but in bursts. I’ve found that if I keep tabs on how inspired I’m feeling to write it, I can usually recognize when is the best time. For a study of this magnitude, the introduction must be a clean and concise rendering of the dozens of pages that follow; capturing that is no easy task. I expect that the rest will come most naturally in pieces, as I continue to flesh out my outline into a formal paper.

Since this independent study has involved specific parameters of research, my mentor T. Olga and I decided that it was best to include a materials and methods section, to clarify why I’d chosen the line of research that I did. I arranged the section similarly to how my paper is itself ordered: history first, media coverage, and the discussion of the two that involved my own original theory. For each section, I provided an overview of the literature I pulled from as my primary sources, and in the case of the primary documents from the New York Times‘ historical archive, I explicated the exact search parameters I used.

All of this detail is in the service of anchoring my research and sources in my primary research question. Like the ‘so what’, every paper needs one, otherwise it means nothing.

Here is my question:

How and why did the New York Times participate in the framing of the Six Days’ War that endorsed the foreign policy goals of American policymakers?

This question has much to unpack; the question encapsulates two broad themes: the goals of American policymakers — which are based on history relevant to the region and the event — and the New York Times’ framing of the Six Days’ War — based directly on the primary source articles I have obtained. Beyond this, ‘how’ and ‘why’ are naturally open-ended, and the ultimate goal of my study is to answer them using my own theoretical framework.

I’m satisfied with where I am right now — for the foreseeable future, I’ll be continuing to translate my outline into a first draft, while monitoring the cohesiveness of my argument and the flow of my paper.

 

— EDM

Week 3: So… how about this paper, then? – Ethan

Up until this point, the structure of my actual paper has been nothing more than a periodically passing, vaguely worrisome thought — but that won’t turn out a paper, will it?

And so, this past weekend I hammered out a rough diagram (T. Olga suggested that I think about it like that instead of an outline) for it, and I honestly have no idea if it will stay anything like how I have it now in my final draft. Continue reading

Week 2: Synthesizing and Condensing – Ethan

This week has seen me downloading frankly ridiculous amounts of both archival and current articles from the NYT and slowly but surely making my way through them. I think I’ve reached the extent of my research — if you imagine it as a circle, it’s gotten to be as big as it’s going to get, and now I’m starting to fill it in. Continue reading