The Weekly One-Pager

Michael Shank
Professor Michael Shank uses weekly papers to encourage student engagement and to stimulate class discussions.

The purposes of this assignment are several:


  1. to make writing a more "natural" routine;

  2. to help you identify important themes and problems in the readings for that week. Try to find in the primary source (and also the secondary material) of the day


      a) at least one major theme of the utopia that relates to the theme of the seminar and deserves discussion;
      b) at least one significant issue that you find problematic in some fashion or other (troubling, puzzling, etc.)--the kind of the issue that the seminar group might help you grapple with.

Note that (a) and (b) may occasionally be the same issue(s), or different facets thereof; usually they should not be, as there will be many themes to choose from.

Your forethought on these issues will stimulate our discussions when you being your issues to the group.

Approximately half the page should be in expository prose (good sentences; some thematic development). The remainder may be in outline form (if you have a lot of insight in any particular week), but it must be sufficiently clear to communicate to another mind (namely mine).

This assignment presupposes that you will be taking notes on your readings, and that you will select from your jottings the most interesting issues. Your task is therefore in part an editorial one: to choose among many a few issues that, in your view, warrant attention.

I insist on the written presentation of these thoughts because the act of writing forces us both to clarify them to and to organize them. As an extra bonus, new relationships between ideas frequently emerge from the process.

I will collect these one-pagers in class, sometimes commenting on them, sometimes not. Good faith participation in the assignment will earn full credit.