Organizing sources critically is a necessary skill in many aspects of scholarly practices. The critical development of genealogies of thought or methodology is one approach, while another might be the classification of particular works into keyword categories. These approaches would be useful for students to gain experience in the classification of materials for their own writing, or for building an understanding of the development of theoretical approaches, witnessing how scholarly discourse changes and responds to new modes of practice. For example, budding historians could be asked to classify works into broad historiographical trends to aid in the critical analysis of applications of Marxist vs Postmodernist theoretical approaches, which can then be discussed with the rest of class.
If you would normally discuss a collection of readings or materials in class to determine their contributions to an intellectual tradition, this new assignment would allow for students to collaboratively propose organizational structures, and then practice debating and justifying their reasoning. Similarly, this assignment could be used for practice in classifying works into various traditions, themes, or intellectual/theoretical approaches. An alternate approach would be for professional development of an understanding of authorial keywords for future publication.
This assignment was originally developed for use in collaboration with Dr. Jeannine Murray-Román, Assistant Professor of French and Spanish in the FSU Modern Languages department.
Students will use this assignment to examine the intellectual traditions of authors, works, arguments, or styles and propose a taxonomic organization through relationship networks, keyword “tags,” and structured “collection” folders utilizing the organizational features inherent in the research management system Zotero. Students will then describe and defend their decisions through collocated notes documents, revising and responding to comments and feedback as appropriate. Alternatively, students can use this exercise to practice classifying works (theirs or their colleagues’) with accurate and concise keyword tags, to gain experience for their own scholarly writings.