Length: About 500 words
It must be an inanimate object
â€”I know you love your children,
pets, parents and spouses/partners/girlfriends/boyfriendsâ€”but even a
dog isnâ€t really a possessionâ€”if youâ€re like me, your dog(s) own you
far more than you own them. And thatâ€s not even the half of it with
cats. But I digress.
This is an argumentative assignment
â€”you must explain why this
thingâ€”whatever it might beâ€”is (or was) so valuable to you. You will
want to think about how Angell describes the baseball and how Didion
uses language to get to the heart of what she observes and values,
and that what she judges as foolish or worthless, about the Las Vegas
wedding industry. Both Angell and Didion are masters of the key
detailâ€”learn from them to be succinct, but precise.
The essay should be descriptiveâ€”it should be clear to the reader what
the object is, why you cherish it, what it looks, smells, sounds, tastes,
and feels like. Who made it, and does that matter? Was it mass-
produced or is it unique to you? Did you receive it as a gift, save up
for it yourself, make it yourself?
For me, my most prized possession is probably a watch I received as a
wedding present from my wife; itâ€s not a Patek Phillipe or something
crazy like thatâ€”itâ€s just a Seikoâ€”but more importantly, the face is an
old fashioned â€œConductorsâ€â€ like the pocket watches railroad workers
used in the pastâ€”the numbers are Roman and the second hand is
where the VI should beâ€”and I had been looking for just such a watch
My fiancÃ©e, now wife, found it before we got married and knew it was
the one Iâ€d been looking for. It has been repaired twice for a bad dial,
and it has a very small scratch on the crystal. Otherwise, it is perfect.
Currently, it has a brown leather strap, and fits on my wrist just a
little loosely. The face is a soft white with black numerals. I wear it
quite often though it is not my everyday watch; but every time I put it
on, I think of my wife and our marriage, which is nice.
If I were going to expand that paragraph into an essay, I would certainly talk about our
rehearsal dinner where my wife gave me the watch, and when and why I wanted this
particular kind of watch-face.
You may think, â€œI canâ€t possibly get 2-3 pages out of describing
something.â€ And maybe you canâ€t if you only think about describing
the object. But instead, describe the object in actionâ€”weâ€ll cover
narration in another essay, but think of its storyâ€”in the art world they
speak of â€œprovenanceâ€ to describe the condition of a work and who or
what has owned/displayed the work since itâ€s creation; perhaps you
can include the history of the object as part of your response.
Double space your essay; include your name, the course number
and section at the top of the first page.
Avoid the use of the second person as it is conversational and
too direct. Use the first person to describe your own thoughts,
but better to use the third person in most of your analysis.
focus on the writing processâ€”your reader does not need
to know why you chose the topic or what youâ€re going to write
about. Instead of telling your reader what you are going to do,
Write in the present tense unless specifically describing past
How it will be graded
A failing paper, either a â€œDâ€ or an â€œF,â€ will either be completely
off-topic, so short as to be negligible, and/or be so marred by
mechanical errors that meaning is lost. Further, the argument
may not be grounded in a thesis or else lack examples or explain
why the examples given mean for the interpretation.
A â€œCâ€ paper is one that manages to competently convey
information to the readerâ€”each part has a logical organization
with clear thesis statements, contains coherent and complete
sentences, appropriately answers the essay prompt, and does
not have so many mechanical flaws that legibility suffers.
A â€œBâ€ paper has all the characteristics of a â€œC,â€ and in addition
displays effective insights into the essay prompt (possibly
acknowledging multiple perspectives on the issues, or making
particularly good choices about what material to address), has
fewer mechanical flaws, and has an organizational scheme and
general tone appropriate to the material.
An â€œAâ€ paper has all the characteristics of a â€œB,â€ and in addition
displays few or no mechanical flaws, pays attention to
appropriateness of word choice and shifting tonality through the
essays, displays a command of pacing and sentence variety
appropriate to the varied content of the essays, and may display
particularly thoughtful insights, of contain stylistic devices
which illuminate the material.
Further, per the English Departmentâ€s Guidelines, the essay will be
judged according to this breakdown.
The student introduces the subject being described, creating a
sense of context and import that builds up to the thesis
15% Paragraphing and Design
The student develops his/her description of the subject matter in
paragraphs of at least 6-7 sentences. The details described give
a sense of thoughtful arrangement or design that gives the
organization a sense of cohesion.
20% Specific language
The student demonstrates a commitment to avoiding vague
phrases (â€œit is,â€ â€œthere areâ€) and ambiguous language
(â€œsomething, everything, what, howâ€). The paper appeals to the
senses through immediacy and concrete details. The language
demonstrates some attention to expanding the studentâ€s
20% Audience and Purpose
The essay demonstrates a sense of intention aimed at a
particular audience. If the subject matter is technical, for
example, but the audience is a general one, the author makes an
effort to â€œtranslateâ€ professional terminology into accessible
15% Grammar and Punctuation
The essay demonstrates a commitment to correcting grammar
issues identified in the studentâ€s pretest. These may include
dropped apostrophes, subject/verb agreement,
theyâ€re/their/there confusion, or any number of potential issues.
The essay reinforces the essayâ€s thesis by reminding readers of
the main point and importance of the topic.
After you turn the paper in through the assignment in the Week 2
â€˜Weekly Activities.â€ I will grade and return it to you via email as a
Word or OpenOffice file. I will make comments throughout the paper
to offer guidance on how to improve the paper and your writing in
general. If you choose, you may revise the paper once for a new
gradeâ€”I am a big believer in revision, so I urge you to take advantage
of this option. You may have until the end of the term to re-submit any
or all of your formal essays for a re-grade.
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