Essay 4_ Narrative Based Argument(1).docx

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ENGLISH 124
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English 124 Winter 2021 Behrend Essay 4: Narrative-Based Argument Length Essay: 4-5 pages double-spaced Cover Letter: 2-3 pages double-spaced Key Dates In-class reflection and journaling Tuesday, April 13 (during class) Post partial draft (at least 2 pages) to Canvas Discussions *By Monday, April 19 at 11:30 am Modified peer review workshop | Note : no letters due Tuesday, April 20 (during class) Submit final draft and cover letter to Canvas Assignments *By Tuesday, April 27 at 11:59 pm Purpose The purpose of this essay assignment is threefold. To start, it is an opportunity for personal reflection on the themes we have explored in this course, including multilingualism, monolingualism, standard language ideology, language choice, code-switching, translation, and so on. Your essay should focus on a personal experience (or set of linked experiences) that allows you to explore the power of language(s)—and beliefs about language(s)—in your life and/or the relationship of language(s) to your identity. Otherwise, the nature of the experience you analyze is largely up to you. You might write about a major life event or concentrate on a seemingly trivial incident that only gains significance through reflection and close "reading." You could write about a private experience, an interpersonal one, or one that combines aspects of both. You might even write about an experience that,
while your own, was mediated by other objects or artists—for example, you could reflect on your experience reading a text, taking in a performance, or encountering a place that had a significant impact on you. Although this assignment represents a shift in genre from other essays you've written for this course (which have asked you to refrain from personal reflection in favor of textual analysis), this essay is also a culminating opportunity to practice many of the critical thinking and writing skills we have focused on this term. You will still develop an original, nuanced, well-supported analytic argument—only, in this case, your object of analysis is not a text (or a pair of texts), but your own personal experience. Moreover, your argument will still arise from close reading (i.e., identifying and unpacking significant details), be motivated by an interpretive question, and be supported by carefully selected and thoughtfully analyzed evidence derived from your object of analysis. Of course, what counts as "evidence" for this essay is a bit different than in previous assignments: rather than quoting a text or describing its formal features, you will mainly present evidence by narrating your personal experience (which might well include description of aesthetic details or dialogue reconstructed from memory). Finally, this assignment is an opportunity to enter the critical conversations surrounding multilingualism, monolingualism, and more that we have been tracing in this course. More specifically, you will engage two readings from our syllabus as interlocutors for your argument in order to situate your personal linguistic reflection within this wider conversation. In addition to lending authority to your argument (see Gaipa, "Breaking into the Conversation"), writing in conversation with these critics will help ensure that your otherwise self-reflexive essay has broader stakes or importance. Genre Structure and organization are much more open-ended categories for this essay than for your previous assignments. For one thing, your thesis or central claim need not be stated explicitly in the first paragraph (although you should state it explicitly at some point in your essay). You might, for example, structure this essay more like your close reading essay by first raising an interpretive question,
then exploring that question from multiple angles in the essay's body, and finally arriving at a nuanced answer to that question (i.e., your thesis) toward the essay's end. For another thing, whereas previous essay assignments asked you to incorporate both evidence and analysis in each body paragraph, this assignment permits devoting an entire paragraph to narrating your experience (i.e., evidence alone)—provided that you analyze that narrative matter in a subsequent paragraph. Even though your essay might thus depart from the structure of a more conventional academic argument, it must still be organized logically at the argument-, paragraph-, and sentence-levels. Moreover, your argument should still be "cumulative" or get more complex as the essay develops. Most importantly, be careful not to confuse this assignment with writing a memoir or short story. A narrative-based argument differs from these more imaginative genres in that you must analyze the evidence you present (i.e., narrate) and use it to build an explicit argument about the significance of your object of analysis (i.e., your experience). Audience Your target audience for this essay is your instructor and your classmates as well as other potential readers with an interest in these topics, including future first-year writing instructors and students. Given the personal and reflective nature of this essay, this is a great opportunity to experiment with your prose style (perhaps by incorporating code-switching or style-shifting as appropriate). In other ways, however, your essay should still demonstrate awareness of conventions for academic writing. For one, you should incorporate strategies outlined in Mark Gaipa's "Breaking into the Conversation" when engaging our course readings as interlocutors for your argument. For another, you should again follow Modern Language Association (MLA) formatting guidelines. A quick primer is available here . Be sure to: use a 12-point, easily readable font (e.g., Times New Roman) double-space your essay provide a title related to your particular topic (i.e., not "Narrative-Based Argument") cite quotations using MLA-style parenthetical citations
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