Saturday, September 4, 2010

ENC 1101-086, ENC 2300-008 ESSAY 1

Essay 1: Writing and Literacy Narrative

This essay asks you to think about your history as a writer and a reader.  You may approach this topic in any number of ways.  You might talk about what you like and why (e.g., song lyrics, poetry, factual articles, blogs posts), how you began writing in that form or style, your audience, your aims.  You could talk about past writing assignments and their impact on you (negative or positive).  You could talk about "writers" in your family or among your friends (or storytellers, or bearers of family histories, or singers).  You could talk about an important story or poem or speech or other text that shaped you as a reader/writer. 

There is no limit to the approaches you may take, but you must include:

  1. A clear statement of topic (or thesis or governing statement of purpose). 
  2. Clearly connected paragraphs describing and explaining your topics.
  3. Vivid supporting details.
  4. Clear and well-worded sentences.
  5. An effective introduction and conclusion.
  6. Evidence of serious reflection on your topics.
  7. Development of your essay through the drafting and revision process; obvious improvement between the first and last drafts and attention to peer and professor feedback.
  8. 500-700 words.
Here are some things to think about that may help you to focus your ideas:
  • Past classes or teachers (good or bad) that made a significant impression on you in relation to writing and/or reading.
  • The experience of learning to read, of teaching someone to read, or of knowing someone who couldn't read where the difference in your literacy affected your relationship.
  • Books that made you want to read more, challenging texts that you struggled to complete and understand and in relation to which you felt a sense of achievement and accomplishment when you did complete them; challenging texts that were insurmountable and reasons why you were not able to complete or understand them (what you could have done differently, how a teacher could have helped you to approach them differently, etc.).
  • What makes you a writer, what you already write, will write, how you have developed or will develop further in your career, personal writing, etc. (Be specific, not abstract.)
  • The kinds of writing and reading you must do for your major and future career, the kinds of writing and reading you do in your leisure time, the kinds of writing and reading you have never done, etc. (Again, be specific, not abstract.)

Here are some things to remember as you write:
  • Be specific, not vague.  Use clear examples, descriptive details, and concrete language to convey your ideas.
  • Think about your audience.  Use appropriate language.  Try to help your audience feel like they are "in your shoes."  Assume your audience wants to understand your perspective, and help them to understand.
  • Try to vary your sentence structure, but make sure your sentences make grammatical sense.
  • Display reflection and critical thinking.  Think about the implications of your statements.  Make connections not just between ideas in your narrative, but between experiences and memories in your life.
  • Writing, reading, and speaking all take place through language, words, and words are the building blocks of thought.  How we think is intrinsically bound up with our methods of communication.  Try to situate your perspective in the broader scheme of the importance of language as the vehicle for thought.