ASSIGNMENT 1: Personal Narrative / Blog Post (Weeks 1 – 2)

Write a detailed personal account of a significant moment in your life that you believe illustrates some aspect of your generation. You may choose to write about an extraordinary moment that is memorable because it left you with an important insight or a new perspective, or because you gained a new understanding of yourself.

You may also choose to write about a time that didn’t seem very special to you then, but which, in retrospect, led to significant changes in the way you see yourself, others, or writing/communication.

Because this is a personal narrative, you will certainly need to use the word “I.” However, “personal” does not necessarily mean private, intimate, or filled with powerful emotion. Everything you write in this class will be shared with your peers and your instructor. If you have doubts about the appropriateness of your topic, ask your instructor.

Writing this paper will require selecting and sorting the many fragmentary images, sounds, tastes, smells, thoughts, and feelings that come to you as you work at remembering the moment. Your task will be to select enough of these details and to arrange them carefully to produce a vivid narrative that clearly communicates the significance of the moment, either directly or implicitly. This assignment will give you practice in writing more about less, and in developing your writing with appropriate details.

Remember, you must focus on a “moment.” Do not write about the events of a year, a month, a week, a day, or even an hour. A moment lasts perhaps 5 – 10 minutes at the most. You can imagine that this is a blog post, based on a personal anecdote, about your generation. You will therefore need to use flashbacks and other literary techniques such as rich, vivid description of people and places, as well as realistic dialogue to present this moment as vividly as possible.

The Writing Commons: Vary Sentence Structure comments/sentence-construction-/540-vary-sentence-structure

Employing Narrative in an Essay criticism/558-employing-narrative-in-an-essay

2-4 (i.e., 2 full pages minimum)
Typed 1 page exploratory draft: _______________________

Typed Draft for Peer Review:___________________________


Write a detailed analytical argument about an advertisement based on your own insights and at least one assertion from the assigned readings. Briefly explain what the advertisement is selling and to whom, but focus most of your paper on how the advertisement sells its product to that group. What strategies does it use to convey its message? You will need to consider both the images and the words the advertisement uses in detail. Look for both obvious and surprising evidence to support your claims.

You might start thinking about this assignment by reflecting on your own response to the advertisement you’ve chosen. What attracted you to this specific advertisement? Why did you choose it over others? Do you think other people would respond in the same way? How do the images and the words in the advertisement work together (or against each other)? How might the assigned readings for this unit affect your analysis of the ad? What cultural assumptions does the advertisement rely on or play with?

The purpose of this assignment is to argue for a specific interpretation of the advertisement. Try to defend your interpretation by producing a series of interesting (perhaps surprising) assertions about the advertisement supported by evidence from the ad itself as well as from the assigned reading.

For this paper, unlike the first assignment, you are expected to defend an arguable, specific, and complex thesis, using a series of unified, well- developed paragraphs. Your final version should be well-organized, detailed, and carefully edited and proofread. Though your primary focus is on the ad rather than on yourself, you can use your own experience of the ad as a starting point for your analysis. It is therefore acceptable to use “I.”

The Writing Commons: Read “Language for Analyzing Ads”, then choose the units most useful to you: analysis

3-5 pages (i.e., 3 full pages minimum)
Typed 1 page exploratory draft:________________________ Typed working draft for peer review:_________________
Final packet: ____________________________________________

ASSIGNMENT 2: Ad Analysis (Weeks 3 – 5)

Write an analytical argument about a non-fiction reading assigned by your instructor. Defend an arguable thesis about the reading, rather than just summarizing. Convince the reader that one of this reading’s assertions is valid or problematic. Go beyond the obvious. Support your argument with things you have read⎯including, if you choose, the text itself⎯or from your observation and experience. You will have 50 minutes to complete this assignment and an additional 15 minutes to proofread your work. You may use a dictionary, the text itself, and one page of notes.

In preparing to write this essay, it will be necessary to identify the text’s assertions (and the evidence used to support them) in order to defend or critique them. The next assignment will ask you to identify one text’s assertions and apply them to another text. This in-class assignment is designed to allow you to apply the analysis skills you practiced in Assignment 2 to a text by analyzing and arguing about one of its principle assertions or claims.

To prepare for this in-class essay, you will need to reread and annotate the text many times. Preparation before the day of the in-class will have a direct effect upon the success of your essay. You should try to develop a thorough comprehension of the text’s claims and assumptions.

Although your instructor will give you a more specific assignment on the day of the in-class essay, you will be expected to be completely prepared to write about the text ahead of time.

The Writing Commons: General to Specific and Believing & Doubting structure/123-general-to-specific-deductive believing-with-doubting

A minimum of 3 handwritten pages (double-spaced in an 8 1⁄2 x 11” blue 10%

ASSIGNMENT 3: In-Class Essay Test (Week 6)


ASSIGNMENT 4: Application Analysis (Weeks 7-9)

Use one of the readings you have studied for this course in order to analyze another reading. For this assignment, show how one author’s assertions help us understand another author’s text. The best essays often consider how the text that provides these assertions can also be illuminated by the analyzed text. Your instructor will identify the readings for this assignment.

For example, you might be asked to apply TaNehisi Coates’s assertions about America’s history with racism in “Between The World & Me” to Joel Stein’s “The Me, Me, Me Generation.” Coates is interested in how a specific history of racism will affect his son’s life in the United States. Stein describes the perceptions and realities surrounding the generation of North Americans that includes Coates’s son, a generation that he describes as “diverse.” Coates’s claims about race can help us understand questions about how generations are or are not defined by historical events. How does Coates’s essay enhance our understanding of Stein’s text? How can Stein’s article re-contextualize Coates’s ideas? Remember to use the assertions from one text to analyze the other.

While your early drafts should use techniques that compare and contrast the two texts to some extent, your final draft should not be a “compare/contrast” essay. Instead, your final draft should build a strong case for a specific claim about Stein’s text (the target) using assertions from Coates’s text (the lens).

Why Meet With A Writing Tutor? And Comparing & Contrasting meet-with-a-writing-tutor discourse/131-comparing-and-contrasting

3-5 full pages (i.e. 3 pages minimum)
Typed Working Draft for Peer review:__________

Final packet: ___________________________________________

ASSIGNMENT 5: Academic Discourse Analysis (Weeks 10 – 12)

Assignment: Analyze how and why the writing strategies of an academic article enable the author to make his or her arguments convincing to the target audience. Writing strategies to consider include: the structure and organization of the article, the kinds of claims the author makes, the kinds of evidence s/he provides, and the kinds of language s/he uses. Defend a thesis about the purposes and effects of the strategies you analyze. The best essays will often discuss why these strategies might be valued in the academic community. Support your analysis with detailed evidence from the article rather than your own related experience.

Notes: The purpose of this assignment is to familiarize you with some of the standards for writing valued in the academic community. Your task if two-fold. First, you must locate and identify an article that supports or challenges a claim in either the Davies or the Silva.

Next, you must identify a variety of writing strategies used in the academic article in order to explain how the effects of these strategies help the author prove his or her claims and conclusions.

For example, in the preface to The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being” (PDF), William Davies presents an argument about a historical shift within industrialized Western cultures in the understanding and use of “happiness” as a concept. How does Davies structure his argument? Why does he use this structure and not another? What kinds of evidence does he use to support his claims? Why does he use these kinds of evidence and not others? How would you characterize and explain Davies’ diction in this preface? Why might the academic community value the kinds of writing strategies Davies uses? What advantages and limitations do you see to using such writing strategies as opposed to others you have studied this quarter?

Keep in mind that this is not an academic journal article, but the introduction to a book from a trade press, written by an academic for a general audience. Norms of academic discourse vary from discipline to discipline. Literary critics, for example, frequently use short direct quotations from sources. Humanities disciplines usually pay close attention to language. How something is said is often as important as what is said. Scientific research articles, however, almost exclusively paraphrase the ideas and experiments of other scientists, paying close attention to the content and data collection. Each discipline uses a specialized vocabulary. Humanities writing features the use of the literary present tense, while scientists report findings in the past tense. Literary critics prefer the active voice; science writers favor the passive voice.


The Writing Commons: Rhetorical Appeals literacy/rhetoricalanalysis/rhetorical-appeals/583-rhetorical-appeals

4-5 pages
Typed Exploratory Draft: ____________________ Typed Working Draft for Peer review:__________ Final packet: ______________________________

Pitfalls: Because the assignment asks you to analyze a complex academic text, it may be tempting simply to repeat the author’s argument. While a good summary of the text is e ssential for this assignment, remember that your primary goal is to explain the purpose of each of the writing strategies you discuss.

Avoid the tendency simply to agree or disagree with the author’s argument without ever analyzing the writing strategies s/he uses (and going on to explain why these strategies might be valued in the academic community). While taking a stand on the issue the author discusses may help to make your paper more interesting, it is still crucial that you fulfill the specific tasks of the assignment.

A third possible pitfall is simply listing the writing strategies the author uses without explaining their purposes (and, in the best papers, discussing why these strategies might be valued in the academic community). Listing may be helpful for initial brainstorming, but you should quickly progress to detailed analysis of the text.