Thursday, February 12

First Essays

Your first essay will be on a topic of your choosing and will be due whenever you choose, but I must have something from you by Monday 4/6 by noon.

I do want to approve your topic before you get too far in — e.g., to make sure you don't try biting off more than you can chew (the biggest problem with short essays like this). Feel free to catch me before, after, or during class, in my open office hours (Fridays 1:30-3:30), or make an appointment to come see me some other time.

A good reason to start writing early is that I will grade and comment on your paper and give you the option to revise it for a better grade should you choose. Obviously, I can't do this for everyone in the final week before the deadline, though: your best bet is to get me a paper early when I don't have a big stack of them and I'll be able to turn it around in a few days. These first papers do not need to have a lot of research behind them (though they may): what I'm looking for is careful argument for a specific, focused thesis (between 1,800-2,400 words).

There's some advice about writing such essays on my website with some especially helpful links to others' sites at the bottom of the page. The best advice I can give you is: (1) Take your time and go through multiple drafts; and (2) Strive for clarity and simplicity above all. Rhetorical flourish rarely (in my opinion) outclasses simple, straightforward prose. Please follow this Formatting Guide when it comes to laying out your paper, handling quotes, references, &c. Notice the details. These count. I will post the rubric I will use to evaluate these essays shortly (need to extract it from Blackboard).

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