Monday, October 5, 2009

Essay Assignment: Due 23 November

PROW 100 – Essay Assignment

DUE: 23 November 2009

Click the "read more" link to find out further details about the assignment.


Objectives: Connect a personal experience to an issue of social importance using description, narration and analysis.

Grading criteria include unified dominant theme, coherent organisation, evocative detail, meaningful insight and grammatical clarity. To receive a passing grade, your essay must explore the moral, political, social or humanitarian significance of your chosen topic.

Process: First, choose a personal experience or memory that haunts you or fascinates you. The incident can be beautiful, emotional, intense, tragic, or even humorous, but this experience must also reveal deeper meaning about our lives, our beliefs or our society.

As an example, your organisational strategy could use the first page for a dramatic, first-hand description of the experience; the second page to place this experience in context by analysing what you learned or what the incident means in your life; and the third page to draw conclusions of moral, political, social, or humanitarian significance.

Ideas: You might connect your memory of a family cat delivering a litter of kittens to reflections on the preciousness of life. You could connect your roommate's drinking binge to the national problem of teen alcoholism. Or connect your own hospital operation to issues of national health care. Sometimes it helps to begin with an inspirational quotation from a famous writer and then think of a related personal experience.

Research: Your essay must include at least TWO outside sources of information: a quote, a statistic, a historical fact or perhaps a line of poetry. Internet sources are acceptable. Use a parenthetical footnote (see MLA guidelines), as well as a single bibliographical "works cited" as the last page of your essay (see MLA guidelines). Carefully avoid plagiarism; either use quotation marks or paraphrase in your own words while giving appropriate footnote credit.

Last Steps: Tighten wordy sentences, eliminate passive verbs when appropriate, and carefully scrutinise punctuation. The essay should be two and a half to three pages double-spaced (at 11-12 point font).

Citation: Use the following sentences as examples of how to incorporate quotations within your essay. Note that in most cases, an introductory clause identifies the source of the quotation.

Dr. William Michaels once said, "The mind is a mansion, but most of the time we are content to live in the lobby."

Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."

Consider the philosophy of Pablo Picasso: "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

Henry David Thoreau should inspire us to live independently: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

The words of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross comfort us during times of sorrow; she wrote, "People are like stained glass windows; they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within."

Additional Notes:

• Page length: Your essay must be between 2 ½ and 3 typed, double-spaced pages. Remember to title your essay uniquely. Don’t call it the “Essay Assignment.”

• Audience: your instructor, other college and university students. If you use any niche terms or particularly unusual examples you will need to explain them.

• Writing Mode: primarily analytical and narrative, some description.

• Purpose: to practise the skill of supporting claims with examples; to inform and analyse.

• Style Guidelines: Remember, your paper must follow the basic conventions of standard Canadian written English (correct mechanics, usage, grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure etc…). Remember too, to follow the MLA style guidelines for any referencing and page set-up. Please include a covering page with all the necessary information (such as your name, class, my name, essay title, date etc…)


  1. I am very excited for this assignment now that I have read what its guidelines are. It is always fun to use personnel experiences as inspiration for a piece of work. I already know what I am going to write about!

  2. That's good news Billie. I'll look forward to reading your essay.

  3. Like Billie, I am also looking forward to writing this essay. It is a chance to be creative and the personal element makes it unlike any other paper I have ever written.

  4. Thanks for commenting Brieanne. I'm glad you find the assignment interesting as well.

    A note for everyone, even though we're looking at a personal experience, our writing should not lapse into the informal. We'll be looking to maintain a formal academic style. Of course we'll discuss this in class.

  5. I am really looking forward to this essay as well. The idea of connecting personal experiences to social issues really intrigues me.

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  7. I liked this post very much as it has helped me a lot in my research and is quite interesting as well. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

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