Essays

Essay One: Entering the Conversation

This essay asks that you enter the conversation taking place in the writings of the authors we have read so far.  While the authors we’ve read typically do not respond to the specifics of one another’s arguments, they are usually engaged with similar ideas.  Though you might feel there is little left to contribute, my expectation of this assignment is not that you become better-researched than the authors you write through but, more specifically, that you take sides on an issue and explain how you’ve come to your position.  You may directly adopt the position of one of the authors we’ve read in order to argue against another, or you may articulate your own position in opposition to the ones provided.  Your aim should be to make your audience (me) understand an issue the way you think I should.  This does not mean I will not suggest other things for you to consider, and this does not mean you can not change your position throughout the revision process.

  1. Build your essay around your personal experiences, which you can explain through the readings.  This tests you to ask the question, “As a concerned subject of _____’s ideas, what is my reaction to them, given my experiences in the university so far?”  I am not asking for an anecdote necessarily, but simply to put yourself in the place of the subject of the article(s) you choose to examine.
  2. Connect a campus-related issue we have studied to a broader cultural debate.  How do the issues of student debt, racism on campuses, and sexual assault on campuses refer us to issues going on outside the university?  How do issues get translated on to and off of the campus?  Is there overlap between debates?  Could certain voices be better supplemented by others?

Your essay should have things a normal essay would–a title, an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.  It should also be written with an eye toward audience, who you are writing for, and what you are trying to accomplish.  You should put forth an argument and provide support/evidence for it, either through your own ability to reason and make connections or through the work of others, whether it be general reporting or opinion-based.  You should draw conclusions from your work and ask yourself “what’s next?” or “where else could this go?”

Your essay should develop a clear argument in 1,500 words or so.  You should incorporate the writing strategies we have studied as a class-–quoting, summarizing, analyzing, forwarding, countering, etc.–-and use them to drive your ideas throughout your essay.  Your essay must have a title and follow MLA guidelines for formatting.  I will expect you to not only incorporate but analyze whatever outside materials you choose to include, whether they be course readings or independently-researched sources.  Additionally, I expect a “Works Cited” page to accompany your final draft with any outside sources.

During the composing process, you will be broken up into groups of three or four. You and your group members will read and comment on each other’s essays following second drafts through reader-responses. I have set aside a day in the schedule on each of these due dates for Workshopping, where you will read your responses to one another, generate ideas, and work on making revisions based on you and your group members’ interactions (see the Guidelines page of this website for more details).  We will also substitute class periods and hold conferences at some point during your composing process where I provide you more specific feedback and suggestions for revision.

I look forward to working on this essay with you, and please let me know if you have any questions along the way.


Essay Two: The Researched Argument

In your second essay, you will develop a researched argument using the work of other scholars and critics about a university-related issue of your choice.  I am not asking you to necessarily take sides on an issue, as in your first essay, but to develop and display an informed opinion on one through research.  Your interest should be specific enough to keep you focused and convincing without becoming repetitive.  Everyone will provide me with a (very informal) proposal for a paper topic which I will either approve or offer additional suggestions toward.

The goal of your essay should be to help me understand an issue the way you would want others in your university environment to understand it.  You should first introduce the issue you will discuss and give reason for why it is important.  What should I know about it in order to accurately interpret your ideas that follow?  Then you should develop and incorporate your own stance and bias in the information you choose to present.  You might closely read articles written for newspapers and the CHE (we will talk about other appropriate news sources) or the way what is supposed to be the same news is presented by different outlets, taking into account that everyone has his or her own “way of seeing.”

Your essay should be around 2,000 words and include a works cited page using MLA guidelines.  You should include a minimum SIX different sources (THREE MUST be scholarly) with which you engage by coming to terms with, forwarding, and countering their ideas. While I will not require that you have your paper reviewed by a tutor in the University Writing Center, I would strongly recommend you take advantage of this resource during this process.

As with your previous essay, you will be broken up into groups and respond to each other’s work.

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