"Indian Philosophy in Religious Context:
Hindus & Buddhists Envisioning the Ultimate in South Asia"

(Religion 387)


Notes on Written Work


1. Please know that in the determination of your grades I will take improvement and effort into consideration.

2. I strongly advise you to complete drafts of your work sufficiently early for friends (or member of the college’s Writing Center staff) to proofread them and suggest improvements.  I also invite you to present preliminary drafts of your essays to me for guidance.  (DO NOT BEGIN WRITING AN ESSAY THE NIGHT OR MORNING BEFORE IT IS DUE!!)  Multiple drafting is perhaps the single most effective way to improve one's writing.  Even the best of writers (perhaps especially the best of writers!) can benefit from consultation with others.

3. No rewrites will be accepted, except in extraordinary circumstances.  You are encouraged, however, to submit pre-writes for assessment and to discuss your ideas with me.

4. Pages that are not fastened together in some way are likely to get separated.  You are required to staple or paper-clip all submitted work.

5. You should always keep copies of work you submit!  Even professors occasionally lose things.


6. In class conversations and in making sense of the readings during most of the term, I strongly encourage you to ask for and learn from others’ views and ideas about the texts we read.  Also when composing assignments it is important for you to consult any relevant course readings; there are no closed-book assignments in this class.  At the same time, however, the overall structure and style of what you write must be your own, and must explicitly credit any outside sources you draw on.

7. Most of you will already be familiar with Whitman’s Academic Honesty Policy,which takes a strong stand on the issues of plagiarism and cheating; it is contained in both the College Catalog (13) and the Student Handbook (40-42)—both of which are available on-line if you have misplaced your copies. All students are expected to take the time to review this policy as part of undertaking the assignments for their classes.

8. For myself, I feel that cademic dishonesty hurts us all. It adds suspicion and resentment to academic competition, and it distorts the meaning of grades.  I am sympathetic to the many pressures that face today's college students, but am willing neither to condone nor to tolerate plagiarism or cheating as a solution to this pressure.  I will give you all the help that I can with this course, and would be happy to help you gain access to programs designed to help you, especially if you are unsure whom to contact. On the other hand, I will generally elect the most severe penalty for any act of plagiarism: failing the course.



9. All essays should be written onto a word processor, either prior or posterior to composition.  Learning how to operate a computer and gaining facility with one or more word processing programs, if you have not already done so, will be a small but exceedingly important facet of your education.  As spell-checking software is readily available on the university systems, please be aware that my tolerance for spelling errors is rather limited.  Of course, spell-checkers do not detect grammatical problems or indeed all spelling errors; accordingly, please proofread carefully.  (See the “Correction Policy” below, #23-27, for details on how failure to proofread may affect your grade.)

10. Apart from putting your name at the top, make sure your paper includes what I call the essential “magic numbers:” (a) date, (b) course number, (c) numbers of your pages at the bottom of each, and (d) parenthetical page references (as noted above).  The first two of these allow me to track a particular paper should it stray into the wrong pile; the last two help me keep track of my comments and also verify your sources (see below).  Also, for most assignments I strongly urge you to distinguish clearly (by numbering or headings) different sections of your paper, corresponding to the distinct parts of the assignment prescribed in the guidelines.

11. For academic writing overall, you should imagine an audience that doesn’t know you personally, and consequently does not wish to hear every detail of your writing process.  Thus in general avoid using first person pronouns in representing a source (e.g., “in the second section of the chapter, [X] notes that...” RATHER THAN “I have chosen some passages from the middle of the chapter to illustrate that”).  Do, however, use first person pronouns to present your own overall claim or perspective, to make clear that you are taking a distinct position or view; but you should not do this more than a few times throughout the paper.

12. You must give parenthetical page references not only for the various texts that are quoted directly, but also for any paraphrased descriptions you present.  See the “Sample Analysis” handout, also available through the Blackboard course site. Use the same MLA in-text citation format introduced there: ([author’s last name]  [page no.])--e.g., (Isayeva 28).  If you mention the name or author of the work in your sentence, your parenthetical citation should be a page number only.

13. Whenever you quote three or more lines of text, please offset the quote by an extra blank line before and after; and then indent and single-space the text.

14. A parenthetical citation should be just before the period or semicolon which concludes the relevant quote or paraphrase (unless you are citing a single-spaced, indented block quote, in which case it should follow after the period); in no case should the parentheses and their content be within citation marks, since they are not part of what you are quoting.

15. Regarding quotations: (a) use ellipses only to edit out unnecessary words and sentences that do not change the meaning of your source; (b) both in editing quotations and blending them with your own words, make sure to preserve the overall grammatical consistency of sentences; and (c) be certain to identify any unclear referents contained in a quotation, with commentary either before the quotation or enclosed in brackets within it.  For clarification on any of these points, refer to the “Sample Analysis” handout.

16. Although writing bibliographies is a valuable and necessary skill for academic work, you hardly make use of this skill in this class.  Since all but the last assignment for this class are based entirely on class readings, you do not need to include a list of sources in standard bibliographic form except on the final paper.

17. Please consult one of the many grammar textbooks for additional guidance on these and other points, especially if you think you will continue writing in English after college. (!)  I have used both Fowler, Aaron, and Brittenham’s The Little, Brown Handbook and Robert Perrin’sThe Beacon Handbook & Desk Reference and found them both useful.



18. Since most of the papers completed for this class will be read or defended in class, they must be turned in on time.  For analytical papers, keep in mind that failure to meet the Friday noon deadline will cause hardship for the person assigned to write a response to your work.  (In an emergency, please contact this person directly to arrange a plan.)  Other papers must be submitted at the beginning of class, since they will serve as the impetus for class discussion.

19. No papers will be accepted late without prior approval.  You should seek permission to submit work late as early as possible in advance of the due date.  Doing so will increase the probability that your request is favorably received.  Please understand that I reserve the right to refuse to accept late work.

20. Turning in a late paper will reduce your overall score by half a grade for each day late.  In addition, submitting a paper late will usually result in some delay in my returning that particular paper to you.  Finally, bear in mind that papers turned in later could end up in the wrong pile of papers; so make sure to confirm with me that I have received and placed them correctly.



21. When I read an assignment, I circle without comment any and all mechanical errors that I pick up: punctuation, spelling, usage, notation, etc.   Two or more circles linked by one or more arrows (and sometimes question mark(s)) indicate an error in coordinating different sentence elements (e.g., verb agreement, paired commas around a restrictive clause, etc.).  Depending on however many errors I pick up, you fall into one of three categories listed below (#22-24).

22. If you turn in an assignment with three or fewer errors (and in some cases I may allow a few more, if the errors are benign) you receive the actual score marked on the last page of the assignment.  If there is no indication next to your score that you must do corrections, there's nothing you need to do.  I advise you, though, to look at the errors you made and figure out how to avoid them next time--especially if you had close to three errors.

23.If you turn in an assignment that contains more than three errors, I put a bracket around your score, and make a note that you need to "resubmit with corrections."  This means you must correct, in ink on your original copy, the errors which I have circled; and turn these corrections in within one week of the day the assignment was turned back to you.  Please do not submit more extensive revisions, and be sure to avoid reprinting a fresh copy.  Don't hesitate to ask me if you have any question(s) about what I have circled. After you submit the corrections and I assess that they are properly done, your assignment will receive full credit for the number of points indicated by the score in brackets.  If corrections are not turned in within a week, however, the score goes down--usually by one-half point, but sometimes up to a whole point for longer assignments or excessive mistakes.  (The lower score is the one I record; I change it when I see the corrections.)

24. If you turn in an assignment with a painfully large number of errors--generally a dozen or more--I lower your score without giving you the opportunity to make corrections.  I indicate this next to your score, and as in #24 there's nothing for you to do. I do of course advise you to take action to remove errors on your next assignment.

25. CAUTION: This policy expires about two thirds of the way through the term.  In other words, after a certain point--I'll tell you when--your score will simply decrease if you turn in an assignment with (roughly) three of more errors.  Therefore please get in the habit of proofreading before that point, in order to allow for maximum credit.


26. In reading your work I will often underline, sideline, or place checkmarks next to words, sentences, or points that strike me as significant or important.  Sometimes these are for my own reference in rereading, and are devoid of any written comment.  Usually, though, I will write a short phrase that describes what I see you doing—e.g., “important point,” “effective transition,” “astute observation”—sometimes linking my comments with arrows to the particular words, phrases, or sentences that inspired them.  These are not simply filler, but attempts to credit you for the notable successes of your writing efforts.

27. In providing more critical feedback I most often make some comment in the form of “need to consider...,” “need to clarify...,” etc.—often abbreviating “need to” as “NT.”  These comments do not indicate that you need to revise the paper (see #3 above); but rather that you should apply the advice given on the current paper to subsequent ones.  As spelled out in the “Assignment Guidelines,” all papers are similar in structure, in order to allow you to apply lessons learned from one paper to the next.  Make sure, then, to keep all assignments, and to review my comments on previous paper(s) before turning in your next attempt.

28. Concluding comments on the back page of the accompanying checklist summarize the key points of praise and critique; use these as an overall guide to the comments written on individual pages.

[Occasional from sections throughout this document are derived, with permission, from a similar document written by my colleague Peter Fosl, Associate Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Transylvania University. Much of the wording of my Academic Honesty statement is drawn—definitely with permission!--from Patricia Keith-Spiegel, “Syllabi Statements Regarding Academic Dishonesty: Rationale and Suggestions,” distributed by Ball State University’s Center for the Teaching of Integrity.

Overviews & Objectives

Attendance Policy

Required Texts

Schedule of Topics & Readings

Assignments & Evaluation

Notes on Written Work (top)


• Indian Philosophy in Religious Context: a Survey of Hindu & Buddhist Perspectives on Reality (Religion 387)

•"South Asian Religions I:The Formative Period" (Religion 221),

• Gender & Religion in India --> HOME