Expectations for Writing in the HumanitiesWriter's Web
(printable version here)

Leadership and the Humanities is one of the first classes that prospective Leadership Studies majors take and one of their first ventures into the field of study. The course delves into the theoretical questions critical to understanding leadership: Why is leadership important? Are leaders born or made? What motivates leaders? What is the role of followers? These questions cannot be fully answered, but students are encouraged to think critically and write cogently about these issues through texts in the humanities. Philosophy, literature, religion, and the arts are the main disciplines used to observe the human condition analytically and critically.

Where to Begin

1. Carefully Read the Prompt. The assignment sheet provides a plethora of information for first time writers, especially in leadership where goals may be unclear. Carefully considering the prompt can reveal several important questions novices may face. The prompt can reveal the purpose of the assignment, the topic, the tone and language of paper, and audience. All of these factors are critical to the composition of a paper and can usually be understood by spending time understanding the prompt. If you have any questions before you get started Jepson professors are always more than willing to discuss any questions or concerns you may have, so always keep this option open too.

2. Plan a Cogent Argument. Future leadership classes delve more into cogent arguments and logical fallacies, but first year students should also be aware of how to form a persuasive argument that considers relevant, valid evidence. The Writer's Web page on Reasoning provides a good introduction to cogent writing and a useful guide for writing arguments.

3. Avoid Generalizations. Writing for Leadership provides many opportunities for writers to generalize statements: leaders, followers, society, are words that should be carefully used and then modified in order to be more specific to your argument. Generalizations tend to indicate a weak argument and a lack of research, so it is best to avoid broad statements while always clearly, but precisely, explaining your intentions.

4. Make Real Life Connections. Leadership professors look for students to apply the theories learned in class to real life displays of leadership, and written papers are always a good way to demonstrate this. Writing for the humanities relies heavily on applying theory to practice, and leadership studies is no exception.

Types of Texts

Texts for Leadership in the Humanities differ depending on which Jepson professor is teaching the course, but chances are the readings will primarily be based in philosophy. From the work of Socrates, to John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, and the modern day leadership theories of James MacGregor Burns, the majority of texts from the class will be based in theory and therefore require a critical perspective of the arguments being made.

What is the main assertion of the argument? What reasons and evidence are presented to support the theory, and are they relevant? How are tone and rhetoric used to influence the reader? How does the theory apply to real-life examples of leadership historical and present? What implications does the argument present to the broader context of leadership? How does a theory relate to your own beliefs of what leadership is?

MLA Citations

Appropriately citing all references is important in any type of writing. The professors at the Jepson School come from a variety of fields of study and therefore utilize different forms of citation. In the humanities most professors will prefer the MLA format.

Works Cited Page/Bibliography

  • Start the works cited section on a new page
  • If your paper contains only sources directly cited in your paper the page should be titled "Works Cited", but if your sources contain cited and consulted texts than the page should be titled "Bibliography" or "Works Consulted"
  • Citations should be listed alphabetically by author
  • Make sure to include all sources discussed or consulted in your paper on the Works Cited page


Pratt, Robert A. The Color of Their Skin. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1992. Print.

Rawls, John. "Rawls: Justice as Fairness." Justice: A Reader. Ed. Michael J. Sandel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 203-21. Print.

  • The second line (and all following lines) of a citation should be indented--but that can't be shown here

In-Text Citations

In-text citations will contain the author's last name and the page number where the information came from; if the author's name is noted in the paper, or used in the immediately preceding citation, only the page number needs to be included in the citation.

  • "Each person possesses an inviolability on justice that even the welfare of the society as a whole cannot override" (Rawls 203).
  • Rawls's theory contends that "justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others (211).

When using a direct quotation from a text it is important to remember that the closing quotation comes before the citation and the punctuation comes after.

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