Shelley Reid .

English 101.080 -- Fall 2007
Course Assignments

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  Essay 1 Essay 2 Essay 3
  Folder 1 Assignments Folder 2 Assignments Folder 3 Assignments
  Kingsolver Blog Quotation Basics  


Essay One, Speak Your Mind: 50 points



900-1500 words  (3-5 pages)

Arguments of definition, value, cause/effect

Support from specific personal experience and reasoning

The basic information:

Write an essay in which you draw on solid personal knowledge and recent experience to explain to your peers in this class how some event, action, place, product, practice, performance, item, etc. is or isn't "local," and argue whether the presence/absence of locality is a good thing in this case.

At some point(s) in the essay, you'll likely need to do the following things, though not necessarily in this order:


describe one or two very specific things you remember or know about this event/place/practice, and your responses to those things (make us see what you mean);


explain how the event/thing you're describing is or isn't (partially) local, and explain some of the effects that come from the presence/absence of locality;


and claim whether, overall, it is good/beneficial/right (for everyone? for some group of people? for you?) that this event/thing is exactly this level of locality right now. This claim is your argument or thesis.

Synthesizing an argument: Rather than doing all the description at once, and then all the explanation, you should try to combine description and explanation throughout the essay.  You may choose a middle ground for your overall claim, but only if you do something more interesting than saying "It's kind of this and kind of that," or "I think it all depends on the person."

Complete Early Draft:  Your CED is the draft that comes after the "SFD."  It should already be an essay taking shape, meeting the main specifications, pushing the envelope.  Draft a 3-5 page CED in time for the draft workshop on September 14.  Complete Early Drafts should be typed/computer printed; bring four copies with you to the workshop.

Revised "Final" Draft:  Submit your final draft in a pocket folder with all related writing:  Folder Assignments, Peer-Reviewed Drafts, Conference Draft.  To earn full credit, your final draft must demonstrate significant revisions compared to the CED. 

NOTE 1: For this class, "one page" equals approximately 300 words.  A length-range is specified to give you an indication of how much detail and development is probably necessary for each essay to succeed; it is not a rigid requirement.

NOTE 2:  All drafts and essays should be typed, spellchecked, & proofread; double-space and use standard 12- or 14-point basic fonts and standard (1" or 1.25") margins.  Please do not include a separate cover page; do not full-justify or right-justify your text; and do not insert blank lines between paragraphs.  Please staple each of your drafts.  (See EW p. 403+ for a sample layout.)

NOTE 3:  Late or incomplete Early Drafts will not earn full credit.  If you miss a workshop entirely, or you arrive with an incomplete CED, you may lose Draft and Peer Review points for the essay. It's your responsibility to discuss this with me.

NOTE 4: You are expected to correct most mechanical/grammatical errors that are marked on the early draft, or your final draft may lose points.

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Essay Two, Join the Conversation: 100 points


1200-1800 words  (4-6 pages)

Arguments of definition and value

Support from quotations and analysis of 3-4 texts

Source texts (4 required for annotated bibliography) must include at least one scholarly article or book section and one reliable mass-market publication

The basic information:

Write an essay in which you begin to explore what other people are saying about the local or nonlocal aspects of an issue you are interested in, evaluate how they are saying it, and add your own perspective to the discussion.  Your purpose here is neither just to list what everyone else says ("all about black-footed ferrets"), nor to go whole-hog into your own advocacy argument ("save the black-footed ferrets!").  Instead, you'll need to provide a synthesis of views, a writer's and thinker's guide to what's going on in the discussion.

At some point(s) in the essay, you'll likely need to do the following things:



describe what different people or categories of people are saying about this topic, and who some key stakeholders are,


explain how the different views link to or differ from one another, what the trends are in this discussion, and/or what's missing in the current conversation,


and stake a tentative claim or set of claims from your own perspective: what needs to be discussed more thoroughly, what questions are most important to consider, and what can you contribute that will expand and deepen the current conversation?

Choosing texts:  Try to choose texts that address similar themes or issues, but that differ in their standpoints, their paradigm cases, their approaches, their audiences or purposes, and/or their conclusions.  Three texts saying essentially the same thing isn't a conversation:  it's a chorus.

Starting up:   You may not have a complete "thesis" for this essay before you begin to write, and that's ok.  When you've got a draft that seems to represent the conversation you're most interested in, you can go back and review the synthesis questions on HYS p. 337, or your own synthesis tree, to see if they now spark an idea in you about your perspective on the conversation, or about what you bring to the table.

Synthesizing information:  To effectively represent patterns in a field of information, you need to organize your essay point-by-point, involving two or more sources in conversation about each idea, rather than going source-by-source.  Use your synthesis-tree assignment to help you spot places where writers are already in conversation with one another about issues that interest you. 

Making your presence known:  Simply by choosing your sources for this essay, you've begun to have your say with an implicit claim about the value of those sources over others you might have chosen.  As you plan the essay, you begin to have your say about how your readers will view the issue: you can provide new categories to help sort out the players . . . you can emphasize themes or trends you think are most important to watch . . . you can highlight some parts of the discussion and ignore others.  Your interests in this topic, your judgments about the sources' contributions, and your predictions or recommendations about what could or should happen next will be your more active contributions to this discussion.

Crowd control:  Even in this essay, you shouldn't be just an emcee, calling people on and off the stage.  It's your party: stay in control of the material you choose, use, and respond to.  See the Quotation Basics page that follows for some good strategies.  Overall, the rule for saving money applies just as well to saving space for your own voice:  Pay Yourself First.  When possible, make your voice the one we hear first -- and last -- in any discussion.

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Essay Three, Make Your Case:  150 points


1800-2400 words  (6-8 pages)

Arguments about value, cause, effect, and/or action

Support from a range of reliable outside sources, including academic sources

At least three Non-Text elements, integrated

At least one Public Angle (intake or output)

The basic information: 

Building on skills you developed through writing Essay #1 and Essay #2, plan, draft, and revise an essay that draws from outside sources to focus on a local/nonlocal angle of an issue you're interested in.  You should imagine and target a specific audience, and in this essay you will present your own considered judgment or recommendation for action that will help move that audience. 

That is, you'll need to

describe the overall situation and the specific local/nonlocal angle that complicates it:  choose a part of the issue that will allow you to "dig deeply" in something "close to home";

make a claim about what your readers should learn/understand/do about this particular aspect of this issue—based on your careful reading of the situation, the conversation, and the specific ideas presented by your outside sources;

explain, in an organized fashion using specific quotations and evidence, how each author's ideas, examples, or arguments combine support or clarify your particular understanding of the issue and/or your ideas about solving a problem; and

address counterarguments, alternatives, resistance points, questions, and/or concerns likely to be posed by your readers.

Choosing your topic:  If you wish to write about an issue that is significantly different from the one(s) you discussed in Essay 1 or 2, you'll need to get advance approval from me to do so.

Finding your sources:  You'll need to include sources beyond those you accumulated for Essay 2.  I'm not specifying the exact number or type of sources you need, but you know that an essay with insufficient support won't be persuasive to a skeptical audience, nor will an essay that only repeats what dozens of other people say. 

You must turn in copies of your sources with your essay: for any source that is a print or text-intensive source, you may include a photocopy of it in your essay folder, or a full-document electronic copy of it submitted via WebCT or on CD.  For non-print sources that are unduplicatable, you will need to include careful notes, descriptions, or a summary in your folder.

Non-text Elements:  We don't write in a text-only world any more.  Thus your essay should include—and fully integrate—at least three non-text elements.  These may be pictures, graphs, or diagrams; they may be audio or video clips; they may be specific design features that aid readers (something beyond changing your font!). Any non-text elements that you borrow from somewhere else need to be properly cited, in-text and in your works cited list.  You can earn up to a three-point bonus for including an original (created by you) non-text element. We'll talk about all of this at more length in class.

Public Angle:  Outside of school, nobody writes in a private bubble, taking material from one computer and transferring it to a couple of others.  We also take material from the world we inhabit, or some part thereof, and share it with the world, or some part thereof.  For this essay, you'll need either to include information you gathered from the world (an interview, survey, or specialized observation of a live event), or find a way to make (part of) your conclusions public (website, brochure, blog, speech, letter to editor/politician).

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Kingsolver Blog: 25 points

Collaborative Bloggers:  20 points

Your group needs to set two deadlines to complete the assignments before the Friday class meeting:  I recommend Wednesday 11:59 pm and Friday 9:00 am, but you may choose others as long as the group agrees.

Part 1, FourSquare Response:  Post for Deadline 1

Using a "she says, I say" format, post four short responses (1-3 "nutritious" sentences each) from different perspectives:


She says, "Short quote or beginning of short quote" (Kingsolver 22).

My personal response to this is . . . .


She says, "Short quote or beginning of (another) short quote" (Kingsolver 36).

As a writer, I notice that she is doing/trying ____; I think this is good/bad because . . . .


She says, "Quote" (Kingsolver 14).

As a thinker, my response to (and/or question about) this idea/proposal/argument/concept is . . . .


She says, "Quote" (Kingsolver 23).

As a skeptical researcher, I did a little nosing around and found out something else that's relevant: _______ . (Give a full citation for your source; include a link if it's online.)

Alternate FourSquare:  Use the general format above, but work with any four different stases, identifying them in BK's writing and/or applying them in your own response.  (No mix'n'match FourSquares, sorry.)

Part 2, In-Depth Response:  Post for Deadline 1

Write a provocative paragraph or so (150-200 words) that gives your response to something you read and is likely to spark a reaction from your peers.  You'll probably need to include a short quotation or page reference so we know what you're responding to.  You may have to stretch a bit, go out on a limb, imagine a best or worst case, draw an unexpected connection, or otherwise "spice up" your initial response in order to provoke response (without insulting any person or group or starting a flame war).  You may expand on one of your FourSquare responses, or choose another angle or topic; you may continue a conversation started in a previous blog, or take us all somewhere new; you can stick with Kingsolver's ideas or branch out to a related issue.

Part 3, Revving the Conversation:  Post Twice for Deadline 2 (by Friday 9:00 am)

Write and post two comments (100-200 words each); they cannot both respond to the same person.  You should quote briefly from your peer's post to show what exactly got you thinking.  Your response should be specific, thoughtful, and designed to expand the conversation and keep it going.

Commenters:  5 points

Twice during the semester, post twice to another group's Kingsolver blog (two different blogs, four posts total).  Your response (100-200 words) should be specific, thoughtful, and designed to expand the conversation (beyond the blog, beyond class discussion) and keep it going.  To earn full credit, you need to post to at least one of the first two blogs, and you need to post to a blog before the next blog gets started.

Blog bonus points:  up to 10 points total (2% overall) for the semester

One point each:  any "nutritious" posts beyond what is required above (deadlines extended), OR

Two points each: any "nutritious" posts including researched info beyond what is required above

Two points each:  being voted "Best Post" (one per blog) by your peers (max. 2 times)

Up to three points: being voted "Top Blogger" at the end of the semester

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Folder Assignments

All assignments should be typed.  Except where noted, evidence of thought is more important than correctness.

Folder 1: Text

Annotate and Respond:  Choose one of the following essays:  Chivers or Castleman from HYS, or (reading ahead a little) Chapter 2 or Chapter 3 of AVM.  Your response will take three parts:  annotations of 4 pages (C or C) or 6 pages (AVM) of the original text, with at least 3-5 different kinds of comments per page; a paragraph of personal response to (part of) the essay; a paragraph of analytical (writer/thinker) response.  Scan/print or photocopy the annotation pages.  Include quotations in the response paragraphs.

Folder 1: Topic

Believing and Doubting:  First: write out your tentative claim for Essay #1.  In a full, "nutritious" paragraph or so, write out the best skeptical, doubting, grumpy counterarguments you can imagine someone raising about your claim.  Second: in a second paragraph or two, write out the most idealistic, believing, optimistic arguments you can imagine someone making in support of your claim.

Folder 1: Writer

Conference Introduction:  Write a paragraph or so introducing yourself to me as a writer:  what are your strengths?  what strong memories do you have about writing?  what would you like to work on this semester?  Then write a paragraph introducing me to your current essay:  what are its strengths?  what are your responses to the feedback you've received so far?  what would you like the essay to become?

Folder 2:  Text

Annotated Bibliography:  Create a bibliography, in correct MLA style, of four sources possible for Essay 2.  For each source, provide a three-part annotation in a short paragraph:  summarize the author's main argument(s), evaluate the source's reliability (do some checking if you need to), and explain whether/how the source is relevant to the question(s) or issue(s) you are interested in.

Folder 2:  Topic

Synthesis Tree + Synthesis Paragraph:  Following the directions and models in HYS, create a synthesis tree for your three Essay 2 sources.  Then translate one of the tree "branches" into a formal paragraph that compares the views of at least two sources; you should integrate short quotations to show what you mean.

Folder 2:  Writer

Peer Review, Round 2:  First, review the comments you received from your peers during the workshop.  Try out at least two revisions (not just edits) recommended by your readers.  Post your revised essay draft back to WebCT:  in the document, highlight the changes; in the message, explain whose advice you took and what you tried with it.  Second: Check back to see what your peers changed, and let them know:  are their revisions successful?  do you have any further questions or advice? (At least two response posts.)

Folder 3:  Topic

Three Rants:  Choose three topics, or three angles within a topic-area, that you might use for Essay 3.  Write a paragraph or so on each one:  write as if you were already deep into the argument, saying what you want to say now rather than talking about what you might say.  Try to get to the heart of the matter.

Folder 3: Text

Argument Analysis:  Choose an important source related to Essay 3.  Using some of the tools we've been learning about, take 2-3 paragraphs to analyze (part of) the author's argument.  Is it (totally) persuasive?  Why or why not?  Be sure to attend to (and quote to highlight) small details as well as larger moves.

Folder 3: Writer 1

Revision Plan:  First: how does your essay stand right now: what have you done that you like/dislike or wonder about?  Next, very specifically, and with attention to feedback you've received:  what's an "of course" revision, a "should definitely try that" revision, and a "if I really stretched I could…" revision?

Folder 3: Writer 2 (Double credit)

Strategy Letter:  Write a letter to another writer.  Based on (and quoting from) your own reading and writing this semester, what are your top recommendations?  Remember to allow for individual differences: what worked best for you might not work for everyone.  Be persuasive.  (3-5 paragraphs)

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Quotation Basics

Quotations need to be used with care:  remember, your ideas and words must remain the focus of your writing.  Don't let someone else dictate your ideas or write your essay!

Follow these 5 steps to help you stay in control of your words and ideas: S-L-I-C-E like a surgeon!

1.  Select the best quotation.  Be sure it matches exactly what you want to say, or shows exactly what you want to argue against.  Consider: do you want to show the author's own example, or are you looking for a statement of his/her general argument?  Do you want to show the author's style or the author's idea?

A poorly chosen quotation can take your reader's attention away from your own ideas, or suggest that you don't really know what you mean.  Don't just choose what you highlighted!

2.  Limit your best quotation to the minimum effective size.  Imagine that you're paying by the word, you're on a tight budget, and any word after the first 10 will cost you double!  Given the general point an outside author is making, which phrase or idea is most original, most provocative, most unexpected, most well-written?

Short quotations are easier to integrate into your own sentence structure, so that your reader skims smoothly along from word to word. They let you remain in control of the essay.

3.  Integrate your quotation into your own sentence:  avoid Unidentified Flying Quotations (UFQs).  You should clearly identify whose language you're borrowing; you may also want to explain to your reader something about the outside author's expertise, just to help show how powerful your new evidence is.

A.  Use a short "tag phrase" with a comma.  Douglass writes, "____." or   According to Douglass, "___." or  Frederick Douglass, drawing on his former life as a slave , argues, "____."

B.  Use a longer explanatory phrase with a colonKennedy argues that citizens need to take responsibility for their country:  "_____."

C.  Work the author's words directly into your own sentence .(Hint: it should read as smoothly without the quotation marks as with them).  Standing Bear critiques Europeans' "blind worship of written history" (118).  He argues that "all this must not perish" (120).

4.  Cite all quoted material on the spot.  For this class, the Modern Language Association ("MLA") format will be accepted: the author's last name and the page number.  If you give the author's name in the tag phrase, you need only give the page number. Check the punctuation!

She also explains that "there is no she or her in the tax laws"  (Anthony  391).


5.  Explain how the quotation is connected to your idea.  You know that words and ideas can be quoted out of context and can be interpreted to mean many different things.  Is the glass half empty or half full?

Kingsolver describes finding the presumed-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker as representing a "redheaded whopper of a second chance" (346), in order to give us hope that our actions about food and the environment can still make a difference.  If one small, impossible thing can happen, then other larger difficult tasks are worth undertaking.

-- OR --

Kingsolver's discussion of the ivory-billed woodpecker discovery as a "redheaded whopper of a second chance" is meant to warn us that we may already have waited too long to change our ways (346). It's depressing to think that we may be basing our national policy on an expectation that we'll always be given a second or third chance to fix the environment.


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Last updated August 2007.Email Shelley Reid