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Appendix A Glossary of Academic Terms

(Some words you need to know but might have been afraid to ask.)

Analyze

to break a text into its constituent parts with the intent of interpreting or explaining that text.

Interpret

to elaborate the meaning or significance of a text, data, or other object of analysis.

Paraphrase

to rephrase some text with the goal of making it clearer and more concise.

Prove

to demonstrate the truth of a claim through argument.

Synthesize

to combine or integrate several things into one coherent whole.

Thesis

an argument, or the statement of an argument to be followed by substantiation.

List A.0.1 Words You May See in Writing Assignments
Annotated bibliography

a bibliography whose entries are accompanied by a paragraph (or two) summarizing that entry and explaining its relevance to a scholarly project.

Novel

a book-length work of fiction (not to be confused with a book-length work of nonfiction, which is simply called a book or sometimes a monograph or an edited volume).

Poem

(in general) a piece of writing formally distinguished by its employment of line breaks and, in some cases, rhythm, rhyme, meter, and stanzas.

Prose

(in general) a piece of writing formally distinguished by continuous, unbroken lines organized into larger units of text called paragraphs.

Short story

a work of fiction shorter than a novel.

Subject encyclopedia

an encyclopedia whose entries cohere, often only topically, around a common subject (e.g., Encyclopedia of Puget Sound, an encyclopedia on the remediation of the Salish Sea ecosystem).

Volume

the term given to one book in a work or series composed of multiple books (e.g., Volume 1 of the Encyclopedia Britannica).

List A.0.2 Research Terms and Kinds of Sources
Ethos/Pathos/Logos

terms created by Aristotle to describe different modes of persuasion. These approaches are sometimes combined within a particular piece of rhetoric. Ethos is a rhetorical appeal to the authority of the person or source invoked. It also can mean the dominant spirit of a group or time (kind of like zeitgeist). Pathos is a rhetorical appeal to the audience's emotions. Logos is a rhetorical appeal to logic, reason, and rigorous argumentation.

Diction

a writer's particular choice of words.

Hyperbole

an exaggeration.

Irony

the effect produced by the use of any given word, phrase, image, or other medium of communication to signify the opposite of that word, phrase, etc.

Metaphor

a figure of speech in which one thing is equated with another thing, which it is not (for example, “love is a rose”). “Metaphoric” is often used loosely to describe any kind of figurative language.

Rhetoric

the style or presentation of writing; how a text says what it says.

Subjunctive

a grammatical mood indicating a hypothetical situation (what is desired or possible).

Syntax

the organization and sequencing of words, phrases, and clauses in a sentence.

List A.0.3 Rhetorical Terms
-centrism

a stance that views a certain (centric) position as standard and that views nonconforming positions as unfamiliar and inferior. Eurocentrism, for instance, views the non-European as alien and subordinate to the European and holds the non-European to the standards of the European. The same definition applies to other “-centrisms,” with the appropriate substitutions made. Anthropocentrism replaces European with human; androcentrism replaces European with male; egocentrism replaces European with the self.

Anachronistic

(of a thing) temporally or historically inconsistent with the period in which it is depicted.

Analogy

a comparison or similarity between two things.

Anthropomorphize

to imbue a nonhuman entity with human characteristics.

Avant-garde

the quality of being experimental.

Colloquial

(of language) informal, casual, or quotidian.

Deduction

the act of predicting a particular event based on a pre-established rule about that event.

Dialectic

a model of development, or a discursive method, predicated on the tension between a first event (thesis) and a second, opposed event (antithesis) and that, sometimes, resolves into a third event (synthesis).

Induction

the extrapolation of a general rule from repeated particular instances suggesting that rule.

Empiricism

an epistemological position that states that knowledge derives from sense-experience and that physical experiences actually exist.

Epistemology

generally, the theory of knowledge; also, the term given to any particular theory of knowledge, such as empiricism.

Feminism

(broadly defined) the set of all political, social, and ideological movements oriented toward the advancement of women's rights, especially as they pertain to political, social, cultural, and economic engagement and enfranchisement.

Heuristic

relating to the process by which a person learns something on their own.

Motif

a recurring (visual, musical, rhetorical) idea in a work.

Nomenclature

a set of names in a discipline (or the method used to generate these names).

Ontology

a subset of philosophical inquiry that investigates the nature of being.

Paradox

a seeming contradiction between two propositions that may nonetheless be true.

Premise

a statement that precedes or forms the basis of a consequent statement.

Stereotype

a reductive concept or idea of a person, group, or thing.

Tautology

a statement or system that affirms itself, or presupposes the validity of its argument.

Theme

a subject or topic of central importance to a text.

Trope

a recurrent theme or image.

Zeitgeist

the spirit of a given historical period, defined by that period's prominent ideas and ideologies.

List A.0.4 Generally Good Words to Know