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Poetry

How To Write a Critical Studies Paper
In the Liberal Arts

Andrew Rihn

Begin by using Ways of Looking by John Berger
and look towards the Borderland/La Frontera
by Gloria Anzaldua, where Benedict Anderson’s
Imagined Communities are situated.  This is where
people live out their Lives on the Boundary
according to Mike Rose.  This is where they practice
The Arts of the Contact Zone, says Mary Louise Pratt. 

As you write that first draft, listen for The Laugh
of the Medusa, watch out for The Myth of Sisyphus. 
You might try discussing the discourseof Derrida,
or the metaphors Lakoff and Johnson live by. 
You should examine every perspective, observing
your subject via Foucault’s panopticon.  You can
handle this.  You know Women’s Ways of Knowing
from Belenky, et al, so you are no Sister Outsider.
Drop the Freud, but don’t forget Lacan.  If you’re
really on the ball, reference Slavoj Zizek.

When it comes to revision, remember, your paper
is a Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
Reproduction.  Namedrop Howard Zinn and Noam
Chomsky, and remember how to correctly pronounce
Edward Said (Sah-eed).  Forget your Grammatology;
learn how to rank, evaluate, and like your writing. 
It is four in the morning When We Dead Awaken,
but only after several pots of coffee.  Your laptop
is more than your best friend, it is your
Cyborg Manifesto and you are its Naked Ape.

By the time you’re titling the paper, you’ve already
chosen between Victor Villaneuva’s Bootstraps
and the sunny conservatism of Stanely Fish. 
Go back and add the háček marks to Slavoj Žižek.
Make sure to note if your paper employs structuralism
or post-structuralism, post-modernism or post-post-
modernism.  Are your eyes getting tired?  Take a break
and go read the latest Piled Higher and Deeper comic. 
That final draft can always be finished tomorrow.

Need an excuse to turn your paper in late?
Just remember: always historicize.

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