Sin Boldly! Dr. Dave's Guide to Writing the College Paper

By David R. Williams | Go to book overview

5
Plain-Style
American Populism

Yankee Doodle's Macaroni

When Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap and called it "macaroni," he was making a statement that was then and remains to this day characteristically American. That feather was as much a text as the Declaration of Independence and as true as the message that underlies this book: that those on the bottom can stick it to the elitists not by getting into Harvard and learning how to play their game but by challenging them in their own vulgar voices.

In the eighteenth-century European courts, "macaroni" was the name of an extremely elaborate Italian hairstyle. Ladies of the court of London, when preparing to attend a ball, would spend hours having their hair done up in huge constructions, often braced by wooden supports that rested on their shoulders. Some would have ships of the line circling around towering bee- hives. Others would have elaborate birds nesting above. Those stiff minuets that required the head be held high and the back arched had a practical purpose. With his feather, Yankee Doodle is making fan of the aristocrats of England, his cap as much an act of rebellious sarcasm as his name. A "doodle" in eighteenth- century slang was a foolish bumpkin, somewhere between an illiterate redneck and an outright retard. Yankees, of course, were the English settlers of New England. When the Brits sneered at the colonial militia as "Yankee Doodles," they were dissing them

-49-

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Sin Boldly! Dr. Dave's Guide to Writing the College Paper
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Appreciation iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction What It's All About xi
  • 1 - Some Really Crude Basics 1
  • 2 - Choosing a Topic and Telling Your Story 9
  • 3 - In the Beginning . . . Pulling Your Creation out of the Void 25
  • 4 - Choosing a Voice 35
  • 5 - Plain-Style American Populism 49
  • 6 - Choosing Words 61
  • 7 - Arguing Your Case 77
  • 8 - How to Lose Your Case 91
  • 9 - For Instance: Two Examples 101
  • 10 - Literary Games 115
  • 11 - The Social Sciences 141
  • 12 - Grammatical Horrors 155
  • 13 - Some Common Stupid Mistakes 163
  • 14 - Punct'Uation!?! 177
  • 15 - Citing Sources Successfully 187
  • 16 - A Sample Quiz- Just for Fun! 195
  • 17 - Concluding Sermon 199
  • The Author's Rap Sheet 202
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