Project 1: follow-up

In developing our first writing project, the philosophy of the essay, we focused on the ways that we, as essayists, can effectively establish and organize our argument. In terms of our writing rubric, these elements include clarity, complexity, and arrangement.

Here are same samples to consider as models–not of perfection, but of elements of essay writing that are working well and effectively, and thus would be useful to consider as we turn our attention to the second writing project.

Rachel’s project, “Performing the Essay: Writing as a Performance Art,” provides a good model for ways that the clarity and complexity of an argument can be established early–and then unfolded and developed throughout. The title is a good starting point, which signals the primary analogy that she will then both critically explore (as a reader) and rhetorically use (as a writer) in the essay. You will notice, as well, that the introduction (like the abstract) establishes the problem that the essay (understood as performance) proposes to explore and resolve: the essay as art vs. the “unfortunate” and “upsetting” institutionalization of the essay in schools.

Once the terms of an essay’s argument are clearly established, the complexity of the essay is then unfolded in exploring and interpreting the evidence. Here, an important tool is arrangement, and an effective way to arrangement the argument (across the “body” paragraphs) is to have topic or transition sentences at the beginning of each paragraph that connect the new topic to the previous discussion, while also connecting to the larger argument. We will continue to work on these in project 2 (and as we read and think further about the rhetoric of the essay, we can look for different models of effective transitions in Dillard, Douglass, and others. Andrew provides a good model of effective transitions in his essay “Transition of the Essay: From Montaigne to the Modern Day.” Notice how the first sentence or two of each body paragraph (after the introduction) picks up or signals language and ideas from the previous paragraph and for what follows.

After reading through all of my comments in Canvas (in the rubric, in the overall comment, and on the document itself), I recommend a follow-up conference with me. This is also a great time to visit the Writing Center for further feedback, targeting one or two of the areas that I address in my comments. Before you get started on project 2, it helps to do some further reflection without the pressure of a deadline.


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