Instructor: Amy Dickinson
Final Paper: Writing What Matters to You
For the past three essays, you should have become well versed in the forms of narrative, argument, and analysis. All three are powerful ways by which we can articulate our thoughts and affect those around us. Up to this point, you have been restricted by my rules. At this time, I give the reins back to you. All of you care about something. Others around you probably share a similar passion. For your final essay, you will choose one of the three genres which we have used, and write a new essay on the topic of your choice. There are multiple parts to this ultimate assignment.
Proposal: Before you write your essay, you will turn in a proposal. For your proposal, you will write a short explanation (500 words) which explains the following:
1) Which of the three essay options you chose and why.
2) The topic you chose, the reason you chose it, and your personal connection to it. (For the creative and analytical options, this will include a brief explanation of the creative/pop-culture piece as well as the social issue it will address.)
3) Your chosen specific audience and how your paper will be relevant to that audience.
4) Your tentative thesis.
This assignment is designed to get you started on your final essay, but also to give you a chance to run your topic by me before you have to devote an entire essay to it. You should be confident about what you write in your proposal, but you are not completely committed to following it word for word in case you change your mind. Also, this is a chance for me to offer feedback on your choices before you have to write an entire essay on your topic. This is not an essay; rather, it is meant to summarize the major aspects of your paper. Your proposal is due for peer review on _______________. A final draft of your proposal is due on ________________. (15% of total points)
Annotated Bibliography: An annotated bibliography identifies the research for your essay. It follows the format of a Works Cited page with a brief annotation (summary) of each of your sources and its significance to your argument. This last part is key since students tend to "pad" their annotated bibliography with sources that are not applicable to their essay`s point of view. You must cite five (5) sources on your annotated bibliography.
If you choose the creative assignment, there is a separate assignment attached to it that takes the place of this assignment. Refer to the prompt. The annotation bibliography is due on ________________. (20% of total points)
Outline: An outline of the structure of your essay will be due _____________. (15% of total points)
For your final essay, you will choose from one of the following prompts—each with its own unique characteristics. Because you now have practice in all three forms, you may choose whichever one appeals to you the most. When you select your prompt, be sure to read it CAREFULLY, as each prompt has slightly different grading criteria, rules, and stipulations.
The final essay is due:
Rough Draft Due for Peer Review: ______________________
Final Draft: _____________________
Essay 4: Option 1—Analysis
For the last essay you wrote, you analyzed an argument of a current film or a type of hero. This time, if you choose this option, you will construct an analytical essay in which you locate an argument about a social issue in a piece of current popular culture, and explain with examples how the piece makes its argument (how it argues its point about said social issue). The piece of popular culture which you analyze can be nearly anything, from a book to a piece (or pieces) of music to a movie, an episode of a television show, a video game, or an advertisement or series of advertisements.
Rules and Regulations for the Analytical Option:
- In your essay, you must express some personal connection to the topic, either in your own experiences, career goals, or the experiences of someone close to you.
- The piece of popular culture which you analyze must be CURRENT. I will not approve topics on pieces created/published/dropped/released before 1/1/2000.
- While writing the essay, assume that your audience HAS NOT SEEN/READ/ HEARD THE PIECE. Though you will need to explain the plot/lyrics briefly, there is still no real need for extensive plot/lyrical summary unless it directly pertains to the topic about which the piece argues.
- When identifying the argument within the piece, you still DO NOT HAVE TO AGREE WITH IT. For instance, I could argue that the song, “Spacebound” by Eminem condones violence against women, though I disagree with said argument.
- Each final draft should reach a minimum of five (5) pages..
- Each essay must make reference to at least two (2) outside sources either about the piece or the topic about which it argues. All sources must be credible, relevant, and cited correctly both in-text and in a correctly-formatted Works Cited page. One (1) of your sources must be about the real-life topic to which your argument relates, completely disassociated with the piece. (I.e., if you are writing about sex and violence in Grand Theft Auto IV, one source must be about depictions of sex and violence, not the video game.)
- All essays must be typed, in MLA format, with a corresponding Works Cited page.
- The essay is not a narrative. Try to avoid first-hand examples unless they pertain directly to how you interpret the piece and/or the subject about which it makes its argument. In some cases, however, personal and first-hand examples are acceptable, but they should not take the place of outside sources. Use of first person words, such as “I,” “me,” or “my” is acceptable, but should be used sparingly.
- Avoid using the word “you” at all costs, unless you are addressing your reader DIRECTLY. Do not use it to describe people “in general.”
Essay 4: Option 2—Argumentation
The second essay you wrote in class was designed to take on a topic directly through argumentation. If you choose this option, you will construct an essay to argue a position on a social issue that is important to you, designed to persuade a specific audience. You may NOT write an essay on the following topics such as positive or negative arguments concerning global warming, abortion, capital punishment, same-sex marriage, tobacco, the national/state drinking age, or the legalization of drugs. For the scope of this paper, these issues are very broad, and would require a considerable amount of research to do justice to these topics in a five-page essay.
You should have some personal connection to the topic, and you must explain how you are directly tied to it through your career goal, your personal experience, or the experience of someone close to you. (For instance, if you are making an argument against the War on Terror, you must express some connection, i.e. plans to join the military, or a brother stationed in Afghanistan, in order to justify your own Ethos in the argument).
Rules and Regulations for the Argumentative Option:
- Each final draft should reach a minimum of five (5) pages.
- All essays must address a topic with a suitable scope for a short academic paper. If you are unsure if your topic/scope is suitable, come to me and I will let you know. Additionally, I might suggest you narrow your scope after I have read your proposal.
- Each essay must make reference to at least three (3) outside sources. All sources must be credible, relevant, and cited correctly both in-text and in a correctly formatted Works Cited page.
- All essays must include at least two (2) counterarguments—that is, two points from the opposite side(s) of the argument along with your rebuttals.
- All essays must be typed, in MLA format, with a corresponding Works Cited page.
- The essay is not a narrative. Though personal and first-hand examples are acceptable, they should not take the place of outside sources. Use of first person words, such as “I,” “me,” or “my,” is acceptable, but should be used sparingly.
- Avoid using the word “you” at all costs unless you are addressing your reader DIRECTLY. Do not use it to describe people “in general.”
Essay 4: Option 3—Creative Expression
(Note: This is probably the hardest option out of all three.)
At the beginning of the class, you wrote a narrative based on your own life to show some aspect of learning or literacy. If you choose this option, you will construct a creative piece to argue a position on a social issue important to you, designed to persuade a specific audience. This piece can be a short story, a poem, or a series of poems. Rich, creative, and descriptive language is a must for this option. If you feel it would be helpful, you may base your story on real life, but it is not necessary to do so, and your characters, situations, and setting can be completely fictional. (For example, you could fictionalize a story about yourself, set in Fullerton in the year 2011, to make a point about alcoholism or racial discrimination. Alternatively, you could write a story about extraterrestrials set in the year 3546 to argue about teen pregnancy—it’s completely your choice.) However, you must also have some personal connection to the topic (i.e., the social issue you are arguing for) either in your own experiences, career goals, or the experiences of someone close to you. Just like Essay #1, this assignment is designed to persuade an audience using your story or poem(s), but it need not contain an explicit thesis.
In addition to your creative piece, you must provide an explanation of your work. This explanation should be a short essay describing your process in the creative piece. In it, you will:
1) Briefly discuss the larger issue your creative piece addresses, providing at least two outside sources and incorporate your explicit opinion on the subject.
2) Describe your intended audience and why your creative piece should be relevant to that audience.
3) Explain the creative techniques you used in your piece (i.e. word choice, imagery, characters, subject matter, etc.) to craft your argument.
The minimum requirement for your creative piece(s) is three (3) pages. Short stories should probably be longer. Your explanation must be at least two (2) pages in length. (These are two separate documents.) Once again—this option will be very difficult. Not only must you construct a creative piece for this work, but you must be able to explain the decisions you make and how they contribute to your argument, which is a very complex task—but if you’re ready for the challenge, this option is for you!