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PHIL 333: Philosophy of Emotions

The Scholarly Conversation

Most research questions do not exist in a vacuum nor are academic books and journal articles isolated, self-contained packages of information. Rather, every academic text represents one intersection in a network of ideas and debates that scholars have been tracing through their writing, sometimes over long periods of time. Think of each academic text (including the one you are writing!) as one contribution to a scholarly conversation.

In his 2004 article "Breaking into the Conversation: How Students Can Acquire Authority in Their Writing," writing and literature scholar Mark Gaipa identified and described a set of strategies writers can use to critically engage with secondary sources. We'll review these strategies and apply them to one of your course readings.

Scholarly Conversation Zine (readable format on Google Slides). Printable version below!

Visualizing the Scholarly Conversation

In this activity, we will examine a scholarly article to determine how a philosopher critically engages with their sources.

Maibom, Heidi L. “The Descent of Shame.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 80, no. 3, 2010, pp. 566–594. 


As you read, consider the following questions:

  • What is the author's motive for this research? (Keep in mind, there may be two levels of motive here - the philosophical problem and/or a problem from the literature)
  • What is the author's thesis or claim in relation to the conversation? Can you find a sentence that best encapsulates their argument?
  • What kind of evidence does the author use to support their claim(s)? Are there quotations from other philosophers/scholars?
  • Which of Mark Gaipa's strategies best represents how the author engages with their secondary sources?
  • Draw a visual representation of the "scholarly conversation" taking place in this article (Pencil and paper is fine or you can use this Jamboard). Where would your views fit into the conversation?