The Torrey Paper

The standard writing requirement each semester is one major paper that demonstrates the student’s highest levels of thought, reasoning, criticism, and communication, through the vehicle of a carefully crafted argument. The argument should be grounded in at least one Torrey text. As freshmen and sophomores, students focus solely on Torrey texts, honing their skills of literary analysis and original insights. As they mature, juniors and seniors are invited to write different kinds of papers, entering into the larger, and often more specialized, scholarly conversation that for centuries has surrounded these great books, integrating secondary sources into their papers. Word count and text limits for the Torrey Paper are as follows:

  • Freshmen: 2,100 – 3,000 words. Use of up to 2 primary Torrey texts is allowed. As standard practice, freshmen are not allowed to write about the Bible in their first semester. No secondary sources allowed unless approved by mentor.
  • Sophomores: 3,000 – 3,600 words. Use of up to 4 primary Torrey texts is allowed. No secondary texts allowed unless approved by mentor.
  • Juniors: 3,600 – 4,500 words. With respect to primary and secondary sources, students will discern with their mentors an appropriate writing task and method.
  • Senior: (non-thesis) 4,500 – 5,400 words. With respect to primary and secondary sources, students will discern with their mentors an appropriate writing task and method, although seniors should also expect to interact with their chosen major.

With regard to the Torrey Paper process, you should be in dialogue with your mentor about your paper topic, presenting a coherent paper proposal early each semester. How the proposal takes shape is up to your mentor, be it a formal outline, a rough sketch of an argument, an oral defense of your paper’s main points, a presentation of a working thesis statement, or the like.

Additionally, your mentor will finally assess your writing. In each semester, there are two submission deadlines. The first comes toward the middle of the semester. Within a few weeks the paper is returned to students with comments for revision, and is assigned a numerical grade. In every case there is a mandatory rewrite, occasioning the second submission deadline, the date of which is up to your mentor. Your revised paper does not guarantee a higher paper grade, but a rewrite is required nonetheless. Mentors may, with a written explanation, raise or lower the initial grade. The final grade you receive on the paper translates into 150 of the total 500 points possible at Don Rags—worth, effectively, 30% of your final Torrey grade for the term.

For all formatting, we use as a standard Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.