writing term papers, 1970s stylePosted: January 28, 2015
When I was in college in the early 1970s writing a term paper was a major undertaking. I would check the books out of the library I needed for my research and make notes on 4×6 cards. I would then arrange the cards in an order that had some kind of flow to it, put a piece of paper in my manual typewriter, and start typing. Footnotes were torturous, especially when I chose to put them at the bottom of the page rather than at the end of the paper. Doing the bibliography was tedious, as I worked to ensure that each entry conformed to the proper Chicago Manual of Style format, as presented in the term paper bible of the day, A Manual for Writers by Kate L. Turabian, generally referred to simply as Turabian.
I don’t know what methodology is used by today’s college student, but it certainly involves the use of their laptop, and there must obviously be at some amount of copy and paste, a luxury I didn’t have.
And of course there is spell check. All of my life I have had what is called mixed brain dominance, one of the manifestations of which is that I invert letters when typing and don’t see those inversions when proofreading. I would get back terms papers with comments from the professor like, “It is only common courtesy to proofread your paper before turning it in.” Well, I did proofread it, dammit! It didn’t help matters that my condition wasn’t diagnosed until the second semester of my senior year. sigh
You’re aware that I have a serious case of nostalgia for the 1970s. That is absolutely the case, and I loved my days at Pitzer College. Nonetheless, spell check technology would have saved me a good deal of pain and grief back then.