ESSAY # 2: Reader-Response – “I can relate”, Comparing Lives and Experiences

 
ESSAY # 2: Reader-Response – “I can relate”, Comparing Lives and Experiences

Purpose

For this assignment you will write an essay in which you compare an aspect of one of our class texts to something from your personal experience, offering a careful analysis of both. (Interpret “personal experience” as something you know about because it happened to you or your friends, family members, or even acquaintances.) For example, you might examine how the narrator’s difficulties living in a new country compare to yours. You might compare situations, attitudes, decisions, or consequences. (Feel free to use any text we’ve studied so far this semester that you haven’t already written about.)

For this assignment, you are finding a unique and powerful way to examine the text and the goal is to stake some sort of claim about the text. This is similar to what you did in Unit 1, but this time your analysis should be done in conjunction with your life experiences or philosophy through an in-depth analysis. You’ll need to analyze your topic thoroughly to create a substantial essay.

Interpreting the Text

The most persuasive reason to study literature is to help you understand your own world. Use this assignment to explore something important to you. To develop your thesis, consider your initial and or your strongest reaction to our texts. What did you find especially interesting or thought-provoking? Perhaps you got angry at the characters or sympathized with them. Perhaps the text gave you a new way to view yourself, your friends, or your surroundings–examine what you’ve learned through the comparison. To develop your analysis, use evidence from the text as well as your own experiences. You might also refer to the experiences of friends or family members.

Further Tips on Comparing Yourself to the Text

The most persuasive reason to study narratives is to help you understand your own world. Use this assignment to explore something important to you.

To develop your thesis, consider your initial reactions. What did you find especially interesting or thought-provoking? Perhaps the material gave you a new way to view yourself, your friends, or your surroundings—examine what you’ve learned through the comparison. To develop your analysis, use evidence from the text as well as evidence from your own experiences. (You might also refer to the experiences of friends or family members.) You might want to agree with the author’s views on a particular theme or show alternate ones.
Analysis

What does this text mean to you? What is its point, theme, message or what stood out as significant to you and how does this relate in some way to your life?

1. State a thesis that asserts your theory about how a substantial piece of the story in question relates to a substantial theme in your own life experiences and/or personal philosophy.

2. Find the literary elements (setting, character, imagery, etc.) the author uses to convey that message.

3. Show how the message is conveyed throughout the text and demonstrate a textured and well thought-out relationship between the text and your own experiences.

Audience

Consider your readers to be an intelligent, well-educated audience that is familiar with the text. This means that you don’t need lengthy plot summaries.

Length

3-4 typed pages (1000-1250 words), not counting your Works Cited page. (For questions about Works Cited page and all other formatting issues, consult RFW and/or come see me.) If your essay runs a bit longer, that’s fine. If your essay is way too short, it won’t explain enough to be effective, so it won’t earn a passing grade. In general, essays that fall short of the minimum length will be viewed as incomplete and will be graded accordingly. To be clear, unless there is an extremely compelling and well-justified reason for your essay to be shorter than the minimum length, anything that comes in under 1000 words will lose major points.
Grading

Guidelines for essay types differ, but in general, when I evaluate your essay, I will consider your focus (thesis), analysis (how well you explain and decipher your points), organization (how the pieces fit together), strength of proof (persuasiveness), ingenuity (novelty of approach), rhetorical awareness (the effectiveness of your essay given the assignment), style (tone/word choice), and mechanics (grammar and spelling).

More specifically:
A C essay needs to have a title, an introduction, a conclusion, a discernible, debatable thesis, and a coherent structure. The body paragraphs need to have at least minimal discussion and examples. The essay needs to adhere to the assignment, meet the minimum length requirement, and demonstrate an adequate use of mechanics.

A B essay needs to have a title that reflects the thesis, an organized introduction that has a balanced length, a logical conclusion, a discernible, interesting, and manageable thesis, a forecasting statement, a purposeful structure that is easy for readers to follow, multiple examples and associated analysis (PIE paragraphs), appropriate tone and style, a fairly accurate use of mechanics, and a mix of sentence structures. The essay also needs to match the assignment and meet the medium length requirement.

An A essay needs to have an unusual but logical title, a balanced and organized introduction that engages readers in your topic, an innovative thesis that is debatable and manageable, a forecasting statement, a purposeful structure that is crystal clear, in-depth analysis in the form of extended PIE paragraphs, a perfect or near-perfect use of mechanics, a mix of sentence structures, and accurate, college-level vocabulary. Your essay also needs to match or stretch beyond the assignment and demonstrate a deliberate and appropriate use of tone and style.

A D essay fails to satisfy one or more expectations for a C essay. An E essay misinterprets the assignment or the depth thereof or is riddled with errors.

A note about grammar: College writing requires the use of Standard Written English. If your essay contains multiple errors per page (commas or minor spelling mistakes), your essay will be marked down two thirds of a letter grade. If your essay has several errors per paragraph, your essay will be marked down a letter grade. If your essay is riddled with mistakes, especially serious mistakes such as run-ons and fragments that affect the readers’ comprehension, your essay will receive an E. You will need to compose your essays in SWE (Standard Written English) to pass this course.
Important Points to Remember

1. Even though this essay includes a personal component, the key to writing a successful paper still lies in the depth of your analysis. Most body paragraphs should have PIE—Point, Illustration, Explanation. It is often a good idea to move back and forth in your paper between the text and your own experiences/philosophies.

2. Use present tense.

3. Put quotations marks around the names of short stories. (Use underlining or italics for books or other long texts such as films.)

4. When using direct quotes, include the page number. Include the author and the page number if the author is unclear: “…..” (18) or “…..” (Tan 18).

5. Your essay should be free of errors and mistakes that are distracting to the reader and can hurt your credibility as a writer. Take time to edit carefully, it is your responsibility to learn the rules to correct your errors and failure to do so will result in a lower grade. If you are concerned about your writing or your ability to edit and/or express yourself within the SWE framework, please stop by and see me during office hours and we can go over your writing and your concerns together.

6. Submit drafts that show significant changes you made while drafting your essay. Merely revising the spelling and punctuation of your paper is not sufficient revision to result in a better final grade for your essay.

7. Balance your essay between personal and textual components. (50-50 or 40-60)

8. Do not forget to compose your essay in SWE. You will lose credit if you do not.

9. As we did in the first unit, you must submit drafts that show changes you made as you composed your essay.

10. Avoid sloppy scholarship. (If you use a source, be sure to credit that source. Otherwise it looks like you’re stealing someone’s work.)

11. No matter which text you choose to write about, your essay will need to have:
A clear thesis that asserts your claim about the meaning or effect of the text and how this relates to your life.
Focus—on the elements of the text that support your claim.
Support—quotes and paraphrases from the text.
Explication of that support—why and how a quote means what you say it does, or has the effect you say it does.

Purpose

For this assignment you will write an essay in which you compare an aspect of one of our class texts to something from your personal experience, offering a careful analysis of both. (Interpret “personal experience” as something you know about because it happened to you or your friends, family members, or even acquaintances.) For example, you might examine how the narrator’s difficulties living in a new country compare to yours. You might compare situations, attitudes, decisions, or consequences.  (Feel free to use any text we’ve studied so far this semester that you haven’t already written about.)

For this assignment, you are finding a unique and powerful way to examine the text and the goal is to stake some sort of claim about the text.  This is similar to what you did in Unit 1, but this time your analysis should be done in conjunction with your life experiences or philosophy through an in-depth analysis. You’ll need to analyze your topic thoroughly to create a substantial essay.

Interpreting the Text

The most persuasive reason to study literature is to help you understand your own world. Use this assignment to explore something important to you.  To develop your thesis, consider your initial and or your strongest reaction to our texts. What did you find especially interesting or thought-provoking? Perhaps you got angry at the characters or sympathized with them. Perhaps the text gave you a new way to view yourself, your friends, or your surroundings–examine what you’ve learned through the comparison. To develop your analysis, use evidence from the text as well as your own experiences. You might also refer to the experiences of friends or family members.

Further Tips on Comparing Yourself to the Text

The most persuasive reason to study narratives is to help you understand your own world. Use this assignment to explore something important to you.

To develop your thesis, consider your initial reactions. What did you find especially interesting or thought-provoking? Perhaps the material gave you a new way to view yourself, your friends, or your surroundings—examine what you’ve learned through the comparison. To develop your analysis, use evidence from the text as well as evidence from your own experiences. (You might also refer to the experiences of friends or family members.) You might want to agree with the author’s views on a particular theme or show alternate ones.

Analysis

What does this text mean to you?  What is its point, theme, message or what stood out as significant to you and how does this relate in some way to your life?

1.      State a thesis that asserts your theory about how a substantial piece of the story in question relates to a substantial theme in your own life experiences and/or personal philosophy.

2.     Find the literary elements (setting, character, imagery, etc.) the author uses to convey that message.

3.   Show how the message is conveyed throughout the text and demonstrate a textured and well thought-out relationship between the text and your own experiences.

Audience

Consider your readers to be an intelligent, well-educated audience that is familiar with the text.  This means that you don’t need lengthy plot summaries.

Length

3-4 typed pages (1000-1250 words), not counting your Works Cited page.  (For questions about Works Cited page and all other formatting issues, consult RFW and/or come see me.) If your essay runs a bit longer, that’s fine. If your essay is way too short, it won’t explain enough to be effective, so it won’t earn a passing grade. In general, essays that fall short of the minimum length will be viewed as incomplete and will be graded accordingly. To be clear, unless there is an extremely compelling and well-justified reason for your essay to be shorter than the minimum length, anything that comes in under 1000 words will lose major points.
Grading

Guidelines for essay types differ, but in general, when I evaluate your essay, I will consider your focus (thesis), analysis (how well you explain and decipher your points), organization (how the pieces fit together), strength of proof (persuasiveness), ingenuity (novelty of approach), rhetorical awareness (the effectiveness of your essay given the assignment), style (tone/word choice), and mechanics (grammar and spelling).

More specifically:
A C essay needs to have a title, an introduction, a conclusion, a discernible, debatable thesis, and a coherent structure. The body paragraphs need to have at least minimal discussion and examples. The essay needs to adhere to the assignment, meet the minimum length requirement, and demonstrate an adequate use of mechanics.

A B essay needs to have a title that reflects the thesis, an organized introduction that has a balanced length, a logical conclusion, a discernible, interesting, and manageable thesis, a forecasting statement, a purposeful structure that is easy for readers to follow, multiple examples and associated analysis (PIE paragraphs), appropriate tone and style, a fairly accurate use of mechanics, and a mix of sentence structures. The essay also needs to match the assignment and meet the medium length requirement.

An A essay needs to have an unusual but logical title, a balanced and organized introduction that engages readers in your topic, an innovative thesis that is debatable and manageable, a forecasting statement, a purposeful structure that is crystal clear, in-depth analysis in the form of extended PIE paragraphs, a perfect or near-perfect use of mechanics, a mix of sentence structures, and accurate, college-level vocabulary. Your essay also needs to match or stretch beyond the assignment and demonstrate a deliberate and appropriate use of tone and style.

A D essay fails to satisfy one or more expectations for a C essay. An E essay misinterprets the assignment or the depth thereof or is riddled with errors.

A note about grammar: College writing requires the use of Standard Written English.  If your essay contains multiple errors per page (commas or minor spelling mistakes), your essay will be marked down two thirds of a letter grade. If your essay has several errors per paragraph, your essay will be marked down a letter grade. If your essay is riddled with mistakes, especially serious mistakes such as run-ons and fragments that affect the readers’ comprehension, your essay will receive an E. You will need to compose your essays in SWE (Standard Written English) to pass this course.

Important Points to Remember

1.      Even though this essay includes a personal component, the key to writing a successful paper still lies in the depth of your analysis. Most body paragraphs should have PIE—Point, Illustration, Explanation.  It is often a good idea to move back and forth in your paper between the text and your own experiences/philosophies.

2.      Use present tense.

3.      Put quotations marks around the names of short stories. (Use underlining or italics for books or other long texts such as films.)

4.      When using direct quotes, include the page number. Include the author and the page number if the author is unclear: “…..” (18) or “…..” (Tan 18).

5.      Your essay should be free of errors and mistakes that are distracting to the reader and can hurt your credibility as a writer.  Take time to edit carefully, it is your responsibility to learn the rules to correct your errors and failure to do so will result in a lower grade.  If you are concerned about your writing or your ability to edit and/or express yourself within the SWE framework, please stop by and see me during office hours and we can go over your writing and your concerns together.

6.      Submit drafts that show significant changes you made while drafting your essay. Merely revising the spelling and punctuation of your paper is not sufficient revision to result in a better final grade for your essay.

7.      Balance your essay between personal and textual components. (50-50 or 40-60)

8.      Do not forget to compose your essay in SWE. You will lose credit if you do not.

9.      As we did in the first unit, you must submit drafts that show changes you made as you composed your essay.

10.    Avoid sloppy scholarship. (If you use a source, be sure to credit that source. Otherwise it looks like you’re stealing someone’s work.)

11. No matter which text you choose to write about, your essay will need to have:
A clear thesis that asserts your claim about the meaning or effect of the text and how this relates to your life.
Focus—on the elements of the text that support your claim.
Support—quotes and paraphrases from the text.
Explication of that support—why and how a quote means what you say it does, or has the effect you say it does.