Dr. Dufresne's Fantastic Works Criteria

It is just not true that undergraduate students are unable to work with difficult primary texts, or produce highly literate commentaries that constitute what is sometimes called a 'contribution to the literature'.  This collection of student work is meant to inspire other students to excellence, and demonstrate the very high level that many students achieve in my courses at Lakehead.  In my experience, many students are producing work that is equivalent to that produced in graduate programmes.  This site celebrates their achievements, and provides an online source on a variety of issues of relevance to philosophy and everyday life. 

My criteria for selection varies.  Most submissions will be highly literate, well-conceived, and well-organized -- the kind of comments I typically place on these essays when I graded them, along with 'Fantastic Work!'  I also like to see a clear argument made and supported, which often entails some sensible citation of relevant materials.  Beyond this I admire any student who takes risks -- with style and/or with positions.  It is very easy to fail, for example, at being passionate, or funny, or provocative, and so I am especially pleased when a student risks themselves this way and still manages to be articulate and convincing.   Other times I simply appreciate how deeply a student goes into a subject, even though I may disagree with much of what he or she writes.  In fact, by collecting these submission I do not mean to endorse the views expressed therein -- only their success on their own terms. 

Occasionally I invite students to submit an alternative assignment: a collage, a story, letter-to-the-editor, a video, etc.  The idea is to promote the kind of passionate engagement I value, but on the student's own terms.  Sometimes this work is a disappointment, since it's hard to pull off an experiment without forgoing rigour and depth.  But sometimes the work is very good -- technically and intellectually.  When it is I ask the student to consider submitting it to this site. 

I always make editorial corrections and suggestions to student assignments -- all of them, including the very best works.  Everyone needs an editor.  Submissions that stand-out are then invited to consider my suggestions, and then send along as an electronic file.  What I receive, I then post on-line.  Their relative order is determined by date of submission, and will always reflect courses that I am teaching or have just taught (beginning in the Fall 2007). 

Anyone interested in citing these works should do so using whatever referencing style suits them.  But understand that these sources were provided in generosity by students, and that proper attribution is assumed. 

T Dufresne
January 2008