Litblog Eng 102 Assignments

English 102, Section 62
Professor Thomas P. Miller
Office Hours: Wednesdays 8:30-10:30, Thursdays 3:30-4:30 in Modern Languages Building 473
Office Phone: 621-6152, leave messages at 621-1836
Course website:
Mailbox: ML 445 (Turn materials in at the wire basket and sign the ledger)


Unit 1 Daily Schedule
    Essay Assignments
    1. Rhetorical Analysis of a Campaign Speech
    2. Rhetorical Analysis of the Framing of a Theme
    3. Expanded Rhetorical Analysis

Unit 2 Daily Schedule
    Essay Assignments      (download file)
    1. Research Progress Memo
    2. Research Proposal and Annotated Bibliography
    3. Controversy Analysis Essay

Unit 3 Daily Schedule
    Essay Assignments (download file)
    1. Argumentative Essay, draft workshop 4/6, revision due 4/10
    2. Presentation and related materials, Forum on 4/16 and 4/17

Unit 4 Daily Schedule
    Essay Assignments (the portfolio with all of the following is due on 5/1)
    1. Revision of final essay from Unit 1, 2, or 3, workshop on 4/24 (see Student's Guide pages 269-283)
    2. Reflective Essay, draft workshop on 4/29 (see literacy narrative assignment, Student's Guide pages 258-67)
    3. Cover Letter for portfolio, written in class on 5/1 (see Student's Guide 271)

Unit 1 Daily Schedule

1/17: Introduction to course, rhetorical analysis, and MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

1/22: Read pages 207-12 on rhetorical analysis in the Student’s Guide and pages 47-54 on “Annotating.” Annotate “I Have a Dream” and be ready to outline a line of argument for a rhetorical analysis of the speech. In class, we will work from your annotations to outline arguments for a rhetorical analysis such as the essay you will write. We will also discuss the assignment and survey websites linked to our course resources page for possible speeches.

There is no substitute for watching the video of King's "I Have a Dream." For more on rhetorical analysis, check out these resources, and links to more of King's writings and related sites are included in our Political Rhetoric Resources. For links to campaign websites, visit the Campaign Rhetoric section of our Resources page

1/24: Come to class with an annotated copy of the speech that you are going to write about. Read the last sections of the “Writing as a Process” chapter (SG 66-82). Be ready to talk about possible lines of argument for your essay. Also, read Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire speech and take a look at the video version.  Also look at the Issues page on her campaign site, and also read John McCain's victory speech and review his Issues page. The McCain website does not include a link to a video of his speech, as Clinton's website does, but there is a You Tube video of McCain's speech. In class we will talk about writing strategies and draft out arguments that might be written about the victory speeches of Hillary Clinton and John McCain. We will then form your peer groups with people working with opposing campaigns and begin working on drafts.
For more on rhetorical analysis, check out these resources. For links to campaign websites, visit the Campaign Rhetoric section of our Resources page.

1/29: Your rough draft is due to Caucus on 1/27. Read the section in the Guide on Workshops (pages 94-99). Read the drafts in your group and be ready to talk about how to revise them. Class meets in Computer Center 311.

1/31: Your first rhetorical analysis essay is due in class. Read the second essay assignment. Print off and read “The Framing of Immigration” by George Lakoff and Sam Ferguson.  Here is a shorter printable version. Review the campaign website of Mitt Romney and be ready to speak about his campaign themes. Class meets in Computer Center 311.

2/5: Analyze the themes of a campaign that you will analyze for the second essay. Come to class with notes on the framing of a theme of that campaign. In class, you will work in groups on your drafts. Class meets in Computer Center 311. Read "Simple Framing" and print it off for class. More sources on framing.  Also be ready to discuss these sample drafts and revised papers.

2/7: Your drafts are due to our Caucus website before class. Help on Caucus is available on our Connect to Caucus page. Read the rest of the Guide chapter on revision (pages 83-94). Class meets in Computer Center 311.

2/12: Your essays are due in class. Class meets in A112 in the Main Library. Read the Expanded Rhetorical Analysis essay assignment.  In class we will work from the tutorials and guides for English 102.  You will be required to
1) review the Guides to Identify Popular vs. Scholarly Articles and Explore Pros & Cons of Contemporary Issues,   
2) and complete the Tutorial to Find Articles using Academic Search Complete.
3) complete the English Composition Subject Guide Exercise and email it to me.

2/14: Print off and annotate the scholarly article that you have selected for the expanded rhetorical analysis. Be ready to talk about the line of analysis that you are developing. To give you practice in finding materials in the library, locate, print off, and read Richard Forgette and Jonathan S. Morris’s “High-Conflict Television News and Public Opinion” from Political Research Quarterly 59.3 (Sept. 2006): 447-56. To help you think about the differences between scholarly and popular writings, compare its argument, style, and framing of issues with the article by Lakoff and Ferguson that we discussed on 1/31.

2/19: Your rough draft is due to the  Caucus website on 2/17. Read “Working with Sources” in the Guide (117-129), and review the drafts of the students in your group. Post responses to the drafts.  Class meets in CC 311.

2/21: Your paper is due in class.  Print off and read the Essay Assignments for Unit 2 (download the printable file here).  Print off and read the Time article listed below and bring it to class along with the article that you read for 2/14.  We will use these articles to discuss the differences between popular and scholarly articles.
"The Year of the Youth Vote" from Time (printable version).

Unit 2 Daily Schedule

                2/26: Print out and read "The Internet's Effects on Politics" from Political Research Quarterly.  This article is password protected because it is copyrighted.  If you do not remember the password that I have given out in class, you can email me.  As noted in class, we will use the same password for all such files.  As part of continuing discussion of how to distinguish the slants of various articles, you should complete this homework assignment on assessing political stances.  Also read the chapter on the second and third units in the Guide (pages 227-52).  As detailed in our controversy essay assignment, we will be working through the research and argument processes differently from the Guide.

                2/28: We will set up research groups for the controversy essay and forum presentations.  Review the rules for Commas (and the other pages linked to it, if you have comma problems or do not understand the page).  Fix the punctuation problems that were marked on your paper, and be ready to go over your problems in your group.  Use Proofreading for Commas to review your paper.

                3/4: Correct the errors in your Works Cited page and parenthetical citations, and be ready to ask questions about any formats you do not understand.  Review “Working with Sources” in the Guide (117-129), and be ready to talk about the problems with quotes and citations in the second student paper given out in class.   Review the errors that you made in the last essay using Most Commonly Occurring Errors.  Count the errors that you made and be ready to discuss how your errors line up with those in the rankings.  You will work in groups to discuss your errors, and then your research groups will share sources, coordinate research, and talk through your ideas for the memo.  Be ready to state your controversy so that we can set up the groups.  Write a one paragraph annotation of “The Internet’s Effects on Politics” (for models, review SG 235-7).

                3/6: Your draft of your Research Progress Memo is due before class to Caucus.  You will post your revision to Caucus in class, or by 5:00.  I will respond to the memo via email.
Class meets in CC 311.

                3/11: The draft of your Research Proposal with Annotated Bibliography is due before class to Caucus.  Print off and read Principles of Writing Clear Sentences and Principles of Clarity in Action (printer friendly version).  To prepare to lead class discussions of how you have followed the guidelines in at least two of the paragraphs in your revised proposal and annotated bibliography, post those two selected paragraphs on your Caucus page.
Class meets in ECE 229.

                3/13: Your revised Research Proposal with Annotated Bibliography is due in class.  We will follow up on our discussion of sentence style and paragraph development in the last class.  Each group will be responsible to lead a discussion of two paragraphs from your drafts using the Principles of Writing Clear Sentences.  We will look at the paragraphs on Caucus that you have selected. Read and print off Body Paragraphs, Lessons on Cohesion Part I, and Lessons on Cohesion Part IV.

3/18 & 3/20: BREAK

                3/25: Bring five hard copies of the outline and introductory paragraph for your controversy essay to class and be ready to talk through your argument in groups.  Read and print off Some Advice on Introductions and Guidelines for Writing Introductions and Conclusions.

                3/27: The rough draft of your controversy essay is due to Caucus before class.  In class, we will introduce the next unit.  Read sample papers by Deanna Sylvester and Allison Villa (Student’s Guide 305-15).  Class meets in CC 311.

Unit 3 Daily Schedule

             4/1: Revised controversy essay is due in class.  Presentation on document design for the handouts and PowerPoint part of your group presentations.  Bring four additional copies of just the introduction and conclusion to your essay so that we can discuss how to transform your controversy essay into the argumentative essay.  Read How Introductions and Conclusions Work Together and bring a hard copy to class.

                4/3: No class.  The drafts of the argumentative essay are due to Caucus by midnight on 4/6.

                 4/8: Respond to the drafts in your group before class.  Class will be spent drafting the abstracts and one-page summaries of your presentations for the on-line program.  Class meets in CC 311.

                 4/10: Your argumentative essay is due in class.  I will give a presentation on document design for the handouts and PowerPoint part of your group presentations.  Be ready to post your abstracts and one-page summaries to the on-line program.  Workshop presentations.  Class meets in CC 311.

                 4/15: Final workshop on presentations.  Class meets in CC 311.
4/15 United We Argue: Doing Democracy Forum 4-6:30pm ML 204, 311, 312
4/16 United We Argue: Doing Democracy Forum 6-8:30pm Psych 205, 207, 306

                4/17: No class to free time for you to attend one day of the Forum and give your presentations.

Unit 4 Daily Schedule

                4/22: Introduce final unit, and workshop selected essays.  Read Student’s Guide 253-68, especially the Literacy Narrative assignment and sample essay (258-67).

                4/24: Post revised essay to Caucus before class. Read Student’s Guide 269-276. We will be joined by a group of high school students who are interested in see what first-year composition is like.  Class meets in ECE 229.

                4/29: Workshop on your reflective essay, which should be posted to Caucus before class.  Class meets in ECE 229.

                5/1: Your portfolio is due in class with all the papers from the course, including your revised paper, and the final reflective essay.  Review your portfolio, read Marcos Salazar’s cover letter (Student’s Guide 328-30), and be ready to write your own cover letter for your portfolio in class.  Class meets in CC 311.

Daily assignments to review for cover memo.
Portfolio Response Sheet with criteria for cover memo.
Handouts to review for final editing exam: Commas, Proofreading for Commas, and Most Commonly Occurring Errors.
Practice exam

                5/6: Portfolios returned.  Teacher-Course Evaluations.  Editing and punctuation exam in class.

Unit 1 Essay Assignments

    When you analyze, you take apart the main components of an idea, object, or text. Then you evaluate the parts in light of a selected theoretical framework. That framework will usually prompt you to examine the object in particular ways. For example, in a Western Civics class you might be asked to analyze a piece of writing in light of a particular economic or political theory. A biology professor might ask you to analyze the findings of an experiment against an environmental or a viral theory. In such tasks, analysis involves taking apart the components of a whole and explaining them from a set point of view.

    In this unit, you will develop analyses of writing using categories drawn from rhetoric. Unlike a simple summary, a rhetorical analysis does not simply repeat what was said but examines how it was said to convince an audience. A rhetorical analysis is similar to the textual analyses you wrote in 101 (see, for example, A Student’s Guide 285-8). You will write two short rhetorical analyses of two to three pages and then one longer paper of four to six pages. The first essay will analyze one speech by a presidential candidate, and the second will examine how the candidate’s campaign frames a particular issue, using several sources such as speeches, websites, or advertisements. The final paper will combine these analyses into a unified essay that draws upon at least one substantial analysis of the candidate, campaign, or issue. This sequence of assignments will lead up to the next unit, where you will research the issue as it is addressed by several campaigns, related social groups, or agencies.

1) The Rhetorical Analysis of a Campaign Speech (2-3 pages)

    In the first rhetorical analysis you will examine how a presidential candidate or related figure attempts to achieve an intended purpose in a particular speech. The first step in the process is to read the speech very care­fully. As you read, you should identify strategies and analyze how the speaker uses them to represents his or her position. You will want to consider how the speaker constructs his or her ethos as credible to the audience. You will also need to assess how the speaker appeals to the audience’s emotions, values or experiences. Finally, as you consider how the speaker attempts to achieve a particular purpose on this occasion with his or her intended audience, you will want to examine the evidence, assumptions, and claims of the speaker’s arguments. The persona of the author, the attitudes of the audience, and evidence about the topic provide three types of appeals:

1.      Ethos (How does the writer establish expertise and moral authority?)
2.      Pathos (What techniques are used to appeal to the read­ers' emotions?)
3.      Logos (What arguments and evidence are used?)

Organizing Your Analysis

While there is no one way to organize any essay, here are some suggestions.

The introduction will likely begin with one or two opening paragraphs of several sentences that do the following:

  • Place the speech in a broader context (perhaps, the issue, the history of the campaign, or the candidate’s career).
  • Introduce the speech by characterizing the speaker and the occasion.
  • Identify the audience and situation for which the speech is intended.
  • Describe the writer's purpose. To do this, you might answer the fol­lowing questions for yourself before you write: What does the writer want to achieve with this community upon this occasion? What does she or he want these particular people to think and/or do?
  • Identify the rhetorical strategies that you have decided to discuss and indicate, in general terms, how they function to promote the author's purpose in relation to the intended audience.

The body will include paragraphs that will have their own topic sentences developed with specifics from the speech. You may want to focus each paragraph on one rhetorical strategy, or you may focus on different parts of one strategy.  In either case, be careful of being too predictable, for example by simply repeating key terms. Useful strategies for developing paragraphs include:

  • Defining the rhetorical strategy.
  • Quoting or paraphrasing examples to illustrate the writer's use of the strategy (two or three examples generally suffice).
  • Explaining how the example illustrates the strategy and how the strategy contributes to the writer's purpose.

The conclusion serves the purpose of briefly summarizing the main points of the analysis and explaining the significance of your analysis. The significance of your analysis may be suggested by asking questions such as these:

  • How do the rhetorical strategies that you discussed explain the effects the speaker achieved with his or her audience?
  • Why were the strategies effective or not effective with the speaker’s core constituency and with other audiences?
  • What do the rhetorical strategies suggest about the political agendas and varied constituencies of the campaign?

For more on rhetorical analysis, check out these resources

(This assignment was drawn from the work of Carol Nowotny-Young, Course Director of English 102.)

2) The Rhetorical Analysis of the Framing of a Campaign Theme   (3 pages)

               We “frame” events and issues all the time. For example, if we encountered friends who say they just watched a “great love story,” we would draw upon our sense of what types of characters and storylines make up the genre of love stories. We would summon up a set of associations—a mental schema—to interpret what the person tells us about the movie. Genres are only one type of schema. A whole set of expectations can be embodied in a single term. For example, when someone speaks about waging a “war” on drugs or poverty, we expect the person to talk about what forces will be used to “attack” the problem. The frame of “waging war” creates a set of expectations drawn from combat situations and stories. Drawing on those associations, we would then interpret the problem or issue as if it were similar to those situations or stories. Frames function as metaphors that connect unlike situations or ideas. After all, poverty is not really like war.

When we get used to thinking in a familiar framework such as the “war on drugs,” we naturally draw upon it when we encounter an associated topic such as crime. When we are confronted with a well known framework, we naturally slip into its perspective without questioning how the interpretive framework shapes how we look at the issue or problem. If you share the same perspective with a group, you may slip into their interpretive frames without even noticing how they define a situation and shape your sense of how to respond to it. You are likely to have a very different response when you encounter a group that has experiences that are quite unlike your own. Their ways of thinking may seem strange, illogical, even absurd.

Framing involves “A message, an audience, a messenger, a medium, images, a context, and especially, higher-level moral and conceptual frames.
”Lakoff, “Simple Framing”

More on framing
To help you understand the concept of framing, we will read an article by one of the leading proponents of framing theory, George Lakoff. Lakoff uses the concept of interpretive frameworks to criticize how problems have been defined by conservative politicians. Whether you identify with conservative or liberal perspectives, you should find the concept of interpretive frames to be useful in analyzing how politicians define problems. For example, “illegal immigration” becomes a different matter when we speak of it in terms of “migrant workers” or “border security.” Each of these frames suggests different solutions. Differences in interpretive frameworks can make communication difficult if not impossible, as evident, for example, in exchanges between “pro-lifers” and advocates of “women’s rights to choose.”

In the second essay, you will use the concept of interpretive frameworks to analyze how an issue is defined by a campaign. You will follow up on your analysis of a particular speech to examine three or more texts, such as other speeches, advertisements, and websites. You may analyze the framing of an issue in terms of what type of story is used to characterize the problem and how that genre shapes the characters, storylines, and themes that are developed. You might analyze a frame in terms of how it builds moral hierarchies and/or political coalitions (as in arguments on abortion that invoke the “life” of the unborn or the “rights” of the mother). Such analyses can help you deepen your understanding of the constituencies that the campaign is appealing to. All political parties, social movements, and reform groups tend to include varied groups with related but distinct values and goals. These and other lines of analysis can be developed using the organizational structure set out for the first essay. An example of a rhetorical analysis of the marketing of a retail store is included in A Student’s Guide 302-4.

For more on rhetorical analysis, check out these resources

3) Expanded Rhetorical Analysis   (5 pages)

                In most cases, the final essay in the first unit will combine the analyses of the first two essays. You will revise and expand your previous analyses to build on what you have learned about rhetorical analysis in the unit, and you will also develop your analyses by drawing upon at least one scholarly article on a related topic. We will work with several sample articles in the unit to give you a sense of how you can deepen and expand your analysis by doing research on rhetorical strategies, party constituencies, and political issues. The last part of the unit includes a class in which you will be introduced to how to find scholarly articles. In that part of the unit we will begin to work with the  research strategies that you will continue to develop in the next unit. While the expanded rhetorical analysis will lead right into the next unit, the paper will also serve as the conclusion of the first unit. It will provide you with an opportunity to revise writings that may have been less successful than you had hoped, and that process will provide you with an opportunity to improve a range of writing skills that extend from the mechanics of punctuation to developing arguments with supporting quotes. Like the first essay in this unit, the expanded rhetorical analysis is quite similar to the essays you wrote in 101, particularly the Contextual Analysis (for an example, see A Student’s Guide 293-9). As in 101, your writings in 102 will continue to expand as you develop your analyses in subsequence essays by doing further research on campaigns and social movements, related policies and theories, and the broader history of the issues involved.

Unit 2 Essay Assignments

1) Research Progress Memo (1-2 pages, single spaced)
(draft due to Caucus before class on 3/6, revision posted during or after class on 3/6)

For this memo, you will need two articles concerned with reporting and analyzing information and two pieces that advocate a particular approach.  You will need two articles from two different types of publications, one scholarly and one from a general interest magazine or other publication (we will discuss different types of publications and ways to distinguish them in class).  When choosing the first two articles, you should avoid book reviews and editorials, and your scholarly article should include a bibliography or works cited list.  In addition to these two articles, you will also include two websites or other sources that are openly concerned with advocating and arguing.  An editorial can be a good selection for one of the second two sources. These sources may include one by a candidate’s campaign that you worked with in the previous unit, but the advocacy pieces may not be from the same campaign, party, or perspective.

            Your memo serves as a preliminary draft for your research proposal and annotated bibliography.  Use this heading for your memo:

                        TO:      Professor Thomas Miller
                        SUBJECT: An update on my research

1) Compile all the information on your four sources and list that information in the correct MLA formats below your framing paragraphs, which are discussed below.  As you draw up the citations, consider these questions:

  • As you list the date of publication (and date consulted for websites) and the other information, consider who wrote the article: Is there an author or more than one authors listed?  Is there any information about the author in the article?  Is this significant in assessing the stance of the piece?
  • Who are the audiences for these sources?  To answer this question, look inside the cover of the magazine or journal.  If you are working on line, go to the journal or magazine’s website and find out whom the journal or magazine is addressed to.  On the websites of advocacy groups, you can find out who they think they are by looking for pages such as “About Us.”  A group will generally represent itself in terms that are calculated to appeal to others with similar interests.
  • From these and other points, decide whether this article is a popular or scholarly article and whether the purpose of the piece is to report on, research, or analyze an issue, or whether the purpose is more about advocacy and persuasion to action. 
  • To get a better sense of the purposes of the sources, consider the articles themselves: What does the author seem to want to accomplish by writing this article?  Does he/she want the audience to take certain actions?  Change their beliefs?  Investigate the matter further? 
  • In answering these questions, consider what you yourself learned from the article.  What were the most persuasive, informative, and interesting aspects of the article?
  • What are the differences among the perspectives of the authors, groups, and sources you have gathered?

2) In the first paragraph of the memo, you will characterize the controversy and the various perspectives you are considering, and then in the two body paragraphs you will summarize the popular and scholarly articles and the two advocacy pieces.  The concluding paragraph in the memo should consider what perspectives you have not yet found that would help you better understand aspects of the issue that are not addressed by the sources you have found.

To help you write these paragraphs (and the annotated bibliography and proposal), you should consider these points:

  • The introduction to the article, including the way it frames the issue;
  • The audiences of the piece, including their assumptions and stake in the issue;
  • The context for each source, including when and where the piece was published;
  • The style of each article, including the use of connotative language, the complexity of the sentence style, the level of formality, and other aspects of how the authors and audiences relate to each other;
  • Strengths or weaknesses in the perspectives, including what elements or aspects of the issue are addressed and ignored as well as how information about the issue is related to other sources or perspectives; and
  • The conclusion, including what actions or outcomes the piece attempts to evoke.

 2) Research Proposal with Annotated Bibliography (3-4 pages, single spaced)
      (Rough draft due to Caucus before class on 3/11, revision due in class on 3/13)

The Annotated Bibliography is where you summarize a source’s content and then analyze how you will use the text in your research.  You will create this bibliography as you research your chosen controversy or problem.  You will not need to have a thesis in mind as you begin this research—in fact, it is best that you don’t try to form a thesis for your argument until you have explored some sources.  Once you have explored a range of perspectives on the issue, you will see its dimensions more fully and will be better able to avoid oversimplifying it by leaving out important parts of the problem or controversy.  Once you have a good grasp of the controversy through your exploration of varied perspectives, you will be ready to offer your own argument about it in the next unit.  Compiling this annotated bibliography will help you to come to terms with the varied perspectives that you will analyze in the Controversy Analysis essay.

            You will create the annotated bibliography by listing your sources in MLA format, arranged in alphabetical order according to author’s last name.  Each entry will consist of a bibliographical citation and an annotation:

1.     The bibliographic citation of the source must follow correct MLA formats, which are listed in the Writing Section of our Resource Page.

2.     An Annotation summarizes the source’s thesis and main points in a four to five sentence paragraph, and then in a second paragraph you discuss how the source will be used in your essay.

You need to include a minimum of 8 separate sources in the annotated bibliography, with no more than three of those being speeches or website pages.  The sources must include popular and scholarly articles, book chapters, encyclopedia articles, and websites.  At least three sources should come from library databases.  We will discuss these requirements in class.   

The Research Proposal is an expanded version of the previous memo.   Your proposal should include the following elements:

  • The issue you plan to investigate
  • A list of your research questions (for more focused research into your issue)
  •   A paragraph describing the research you’ve already done (Keeping some kind of research journal will help you remember what databases, etc. you have already searched and what search terms you used.  This will help with this part of your proposal – it will also save you time when doing further research.)
  •   A paragraph describing your research plan (what you want to learn based on what you have learned so far, identifying the gaps in your knowledge, and how you plan to learn what you need to know)

3) The Controversy Analysis Essay (5 to 7 pages)
      (Rough draft due before class on 3/27, and revision due in class 4/1)

             This is the essay that the previous assignments are leading up to and preparing you to write.  If you have done the previous work to the best of your ability, you should already have a focus for the essay, a plan for getting it done, and the research necessary to support the points you will make.  In this essay, you will follow up on the rhetorical analyses that you did in the first unit and prepare to develop the argument that you will write in the next unit.  You will analyze the arguments of at least three perspectives on a controversy or problem, and you will conclude by examining what aspects of the problem or controversy the perspectives explain well and which they ignore or simplify.  You may consider whether there is a possibility to mediate among the perspective, or you may focus on how the perspectives are consistent with the constituencies involved in the controversy.

In thinking about how to state and develop your analysis, you should consider that many controversies arise from a problem, but some problems are more controversial than others.  For example, the problem of how to balance the national government’s budget is highly controversial because some people blame the problem on excessive governmental spending, while others argue that taxes have been cut so much that the government cannot provide required services with the available funding.  A less controversial problem is the rising perception that we may be heading into a recession.  Republican and Democratic leaders quickly agreed on a “stimulus package” of tax cuts.  The proposed tax cut was not really controversial (though Ron Paul and others argued that such a response would do nothing to address the underlying financial problems), but the perspectives on the problem were quite different.  Whether you are writing about a controversy such as how to balance the budget or a problem such as how to avoid a recession, your essay will explore how several sources define and analyze the related issues.

In the essay, you will characterize the controversy or problem in the first paragraph, and you will characterize the viewpoints that you are going to analyze.  Your thesis will likely focus on how and why the perspectives differ and/or what aspects or issues the perspectives explain, ignore, or misrepresent.  For example, you might argue that Democratic and Republican leaders were able to agree on a tax cut to stimulate the economy because tax cuts are popular with voters, but unfortunately neither Democrats or Republicans have been able to agree on the sources of our economic problems because they have very different conceptions of how the economy works.

After you have defined the controversy or problem and characterized the perspectives you will consider, you will need to devote the second and perhaps third paragraphs to providing details on the context of the controversy or problem.  You may want to review the history of the problem or the arguments that have led up to the controversy.  You may want to divide the controversy or problem into parts. You will likely want to identify the perspectives you will consider with various constituencies in order to establish a context for your analyses of the assumptions and purposes that have shaped the arguments. In these ways your first two or three paragraphs will set up the context for your analyses of the specific sources in the subsequent paragraphs.

After your first two or three paragraphs, you will analyze the specific sources you have researched.  These analyses will be much like the rhetorical analyses in the first unit.  You will want to summarize the arguments of the individual sources, and you may want to analyze the assumptions and purposes of those arguments.  In developing those analyses, you may want to consider how those aspects of the sources are related to the expectations and needs of the audiences that the sources address.  You may also decide to focus less on the arguments themselves than on the program or action that are presumed to follow from them.

In your concluding paragraph or paragraphs, you should consider what aspects of the problem or controversy, the sources explain, and which aspects are overlooked, simplified, or misrepresented.  You may want to consider if it is possible to mediate among the perspectives and find a middle ground.  You may also choose to consider what we learn from the differences among the perspectives.  For example, if you were writing about the proposed stimulus package, you might follow through from the analysis of how quickly Democrats and Republicans agreed on tax cuts to argue that addressing long-term economic problems will be impossible until governmental leaders can agree on how to deal with more basic economic challenges.

This assignment calls for you to do more than summarize pro and con arguments on a controversial issue.  There are many sources that can help you find arguments for and against a particular solution to a problem.  Such sources can help you see how to nutshell arguments and define issues, but simply reviewing the arguments for and against a policy will not get you a good grade on this assignment.  Following from the first unit on rhetorical analysis, you will need to analyze why the arguments make sense to particular audiences and how the authors have developed their positions to make them appealing to their intended audiences.  To be effective, the thesis for your essay will build on the sorts of rhetorical analysis that you did in the first unit to consider differences in perspectives and not simply how an individual author appealed to his or her intended audience.

Unit 3 Essay and Presentation Assignment
Argumentative Essay (6-8 pages, double spaced)
(draft due to Caucus by midnight on 4/6, workshop on 4/8, revision due in class on 4/10)

As detailed in Chapter 12 of A Student’s Guide, the Argumentative Essay builds on what you have learned in the previous units.  In addition to being responsible for the details of the assignment that are included in Chapter 12, you are also responsible for the materials in Chapter 7 on documenting sources and integrating them into your writing, and you are also expected to know the principles of rhetorical analysis discussed in Chapter 11. 

To write an effective documented argument, you will need to draw upon the views of the issue that you researched for the Contextual Analysis, including arguments that oppose your position.  The persuasiveness of your argument will depend on your drawing on specifics from a range of sources, including at least four scholarly sources (including on-line databases such CQ Researcher).  More specifically, your essay will be assessed according to how effectively you

  • Set out a well defined argument in an introductory paragraph that opens with a concrete and engaging lead, sets up the context by providing background and varied views on the issue, and sets out a thesis statement that encapsulates the argument;
  • Develop clearly defined points in body paragraphs that develop rhetorical analyses of varied sources with specific evidence and explanations that relate the points to your overall argument;
  • Conclude with an effective review of the argument that connects with your introduction without simply restating your thesis and ends by suggesting broader implications or practical applications.
  • Write in sentences that are correctly punctuated, effectively developed with active verbs and people subjects, and developed in a cumulative manner to connect old to new information in topical chains; and finally
  • Follow correct MLA formats in citing sources and using effective frames that introduce and follow up on quotes and other cited information.

These are the criteria that have been used to evaluate the introductions, body paragraphs, conclusions, citations, and style in previous essays (the same criteria that you have also used to suggest revisions in your peer group workshops).    In addition to the criteria that we have been working with in previous units, your essays will also be assessed on how effectively you have drawn upon varying viewpoints to develop arguments that undecided voters will find engaging if not convincing.

Group Presentation (United We Argue Forum on 4/15 4-6:30pm and 4/16 United We 6-8:30pm)

             You will work in groups to give presentations in a multi-class forum.  Each group will be responsible to deliver a ten-minute speech with visual aides (handouts and PowerPoint).  A member of your group will also be responsible to provide a one-paragraph abstract and one-page summary for the on-line program.  Some of you have participated in a workshop group that addressed topics that are not closely related enough to be easily combined into a single line of argument for the presentation.  If you have worked in such a group, you may choose from three options: you and your group may decide to focus on the argument developed in one of the papers written by the members of the group; you may decide to join another group and play a supporting role (such as preparing a handout), or you may decide to work alone and give their own ten-minute speech.  Individual presenters will not be required to develop visual aides, but they will be required to produce a one-paragraph abstract for the program.  Participants in groups will receive two equally rated grades: a group grade for the quality of the written speech and an individual grade for their particular areas of responsibility (as detailed below).

Group Role

Before the forum

During the presentation

After the forum


With group, write a ten-minute (about 5 pp.) speech on the group’s argument

Give a ten-minute speech on the group’s argument.

Turn in a copy of the speech.

Lead Editor

Assist with speech and write a 1-paragraph abstract and 1-page, single-spaced summary for the program.

Assist other group members as needed.

Turn in abstract and position paper.

Multimedia Coordinator

Assist with speech and prepare visual aide, either a handout or PowerPoint.

Facilitate the presentation of the visual aide and contribute to discussion.

Turn in visual aide.

If four-member group,

Multimedia Coordinator and Discussion Leader

Assist with speech, and prepare second visual aide.

Facilitate 5 to 10 minutes of discussion by raising questions after presentations.

Turn in visual aide and discussion questions that were posed.

Criteria for Visual Aids:

1. Effective Use of Principles of Design: The layout of the page or slide should be designed to make effective use of balance, proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast, and white space.  These principles should be used to emphasize the main points, subordinate related information, and provide a clear sense of organization.  The page or slide should provide detailed information without being cluttered or confused.

2. Effective Writing: The writing should be clear, precise, and polished.  The style should be appropriate for the audience, and you should make effective use of stylistic elements such as parallelism.

3. Professionalism: The writing should be free of mechanical errors, and the slides and pages should be neatly aligned and clean of distracting smudges or other sloppiness.

4. Informational Content: The writing should be pointed and informative to make every word count, and the writing should highlight the major concepts and supporting specifics to complement the talk.

About Wikipedia, SparkNotes, and Databases

DO NOT cite Wikipedia in academic essays. Since it is not edited by reputable experts, it often has errors and isn't reliable. It's okay to use it as a starting point for your own research, but go on and find other sources to verify the information, and cite those in your essay.

Also avoid SparkNotes, ENotes and similar sites. Teachers hate them since they provide only the most superficial analyses. Avoid citing them in academic papers; instead, go find analyses from more reputable academic sources: university and scholarly websites, peer-reviewed journals in library databases, and books.

How to submit your work

Your essays will be submitted to me via e-mail. Write your assignments in your word processing program. PLEASE SAVE YOUR FILE AS EITHER A WORD FILE OR AN RTF FILE. Then attach that file to your e-mail message. When sending assignments, your e-mail message should include your name, the class number (English 102), and the name of the assignment which is attached.

Use correct MLA format for the appearance of your essay and your documentation.

Eliminate spelling, grammar, and other mechanical errors from your writing.

Send your e-mail to me at

NOTE: always keep copies of all of your assignments. If there is a problem with e-mail, you will need that copy to re-send for credit.

Writing Assignment 1--The Short Story

Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Your thesis statement must be clear, precise and explicit. Support your thesis with specific details, examples, and direct quotes from the stories. An essay which does not include direct quotes from the story cannot receive a grade higher than a C. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words). Be sure to include a Works Cited list. Use correct MLA format and citation techniques in your essay and your Works Cited list. Maximum points possible: 100.

This assignment is due Thursday, Sept. 29.

1. Choose one of the following stories. What is it saying about the power of stories?

  • "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
  • "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"

2. Choose one of the following stories. What is it saying about the difference between reality and the perceptions of the characters?

  • "The Tell-tale Heart"
  • "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
  • "A Rose For Emily"
  • "Gryphon"

3. Choose one of the following stories. What is it saying about tradition?

  • "A Rose For Emily"
  • "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"

4. Choose one of the following stories. What social or political point(s) is it making?

  • "A Rose For Emily"
  • "This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona"
  • "Gryphon"
  • "The Things They Carried"
  • "Maus"
  • "Persepolis"
  • "Two Questions"

5. Some critics argue that graphic fiction cannot be considered "literary" literature; that its purpose is only entertainment. Others disagree. Reread the first part of Lecture 1, on the differences between literature with a little "l", and Literature with a capital "L". Then choose one of the graphic stories we read (Maus, Persepolis, or Two Questions) and explain why it should be considered literature with a little "l", or Literature with a capital "L".

For help writing this assignment, see the models in your book, go to Writing About Literature, or contact me.

Writing Assignment 2--Drama

Choose one of the following topics and write a complete, considered answer. Be sure to support your statements with evidence from the plays. Required length: 2-5 pages (500-1250 words). Use correct MLA format and citation techniques in your essay and your Works Cited list.

This assignment is due Thursday, Dec. 1. Maximum points possible: 100.

1. In Hamlet, how does Shakespeare address the theme of the difference between appearance and reality? Explain.

2. In Almost, Maine, what theme connects all the scenes? Explain.

3. Write another scene for Almost, Maine. It should introduce new characters, but be consistent with the style and theme of the play. Specify where in the play you would add the scene. Write your scene in standard play format, as you see in the plays we've read. No Works Cited list is needed for this paper.

4. Write a short play (3-6 pages) which is a sequel to "Asteroid Belt," using the same characters. You may add up to 3 new characters, if you wish, but you may not eliminate any of the characters from the original play. Write your scene in standard play format, as you see in the plays we've read. No Works Cited list is needed for this paper.

5. How are the themes of betrayal and trust addressed in Proof?

6. The subject of Proof--high-level mathematics--is one that most people find incomprehensible and boring. How does Auburn make the play interesting?

7. Compare "Tape" and "Post-its." How are they similar? How are they different?

8. In Trying to Find Chinatown, how does each character's sense of identity affect his behavior?

9. Choose your own topic; clear it with me first.

For help writing this assignment, see the models in your book, go to Writing About Literature, or contact me.

Writing Assignment 3--The Research Project

Click here for full instructions on this assignment: The Station Eleven Project

~The Station Eleven Project Proposal is due on Thursday, Oct. 20.
~The Station Eleven Research Paper is due on Thursday, Nov. 10
~The Station Eleven Project is due on Thursday, Dec. 8.

Final Exam


  • Answer the following questions. Each answer need only be a paragraph long. Maximum points possible: 50.

This assignment is due Monday, Dec. 12.

Of the works we have read this semester, which have you liked the least? Why? Which have you liked the best? Why?

For help writing this assignment, see the models in your book, go to Writing About Literature, or contact me.

How to submit your work

Your essays will be submitted to me via e-mail. Write your assignments in your word processing program. PLEASE SAVE YOUR FILE AS EITHER A WORD FILE OR AN RTF FILE. Then attach that file to your e-mail message. When sending assignments, your e-mail message should include your name, the class number (English 102), and the name of the assignment which is attached.

Use correct MLA format for the appearance of your essay and your documentation.

Eliminate spelling, grammar, and other mechanical errors from your writing.

Send your e-mail to me at

NOTE: always keep copies of all of your assignments. If there is a problem with e-mail, you will need that copy to re-send for credit.

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