Essay Assignment #1: Critique/Response Essay: Burro genius

For your first essay, you will write a 950- 1,200 word (heading and works cited page do not count as part of the word count) critical response to at least one of the texts we read in class.
Imagine that one of your goals as a student is to read widely and to think critically about the arguments you encounter in books, on-line articles, opinion pieces, etc.. You may have read essays, plays, poems, stories, letters, and other genres before, but now you want to take the next steps toward a college level experience with critical approaches to ideas and issues in writing. Remember that everything is an argument, even the fiction, poems, and opinions we read in class.
This assignment asks you to read rhetorically and develop a strong response to ideas you identify in a text selected from the several we have read thus far.  You’ll then use that response to draft a closed-form, thesis-based essay. You’ll support that essay with points that develop your argument so readers understand how you arrived at your thesis.  You will also present particulars from your selected essay that either support or contradict your thesis. Throughout the essay, you will document (use MLA formatted source citations) all information that originates from these outside sources.  You will also produce a works-cited page that lists the text you chose to use in addition to one other text. Please try to use proper MLA format for this page.
Directions: Write a summary/strong response essay that includes:  (a) a short summary of an identified and selected text;  (b) a strong response to the text (either in support or in opposition to its ideas) in which you respond with your own critical thinking, personal experience, and values.  As you formulate your response, consider both the author’s rhetorical strategies and the author’s ideas.  Think of your response as your analysis of how the text tries to influence its readers rhetorically and how your wrestling with the text has expanded and deepened your thinking. Additionally, you will use an additional reading to respond to the original text you are analyzing.
Your essay should:
Provide a cover sheet for your essay (more below)
Summarize at least one of the texts we have read so far
Analyze that text and Respond to it and Analyze it.
Provide a thesis statement (what do you think of the text?)
Provide support for your thesis using personal experience and one other text.
Provide support for your thesis USING at least one of the other texts (put two of the text we have read in conversation)
Organize paragraphs coherently
Show awareness of rhetorical situation and rhetorically strategies
Cite all sources using proper MLA citation style
Format paper in proper MLA format
Provide a properly cited works cited page.
Be sure that all documents:

  • are typed;
  • use 12 point font size;
  • use Times New Roman font;
  • are double-spaced;
  • follow MLA style requirements for all other formatting issues (see the Purdue OWL for guidelines);
  • have been spell-checked and edited for grammar and syntax problems;
  • are properly uploaded as a WORD .doc or .docx or .pdf file (you can download Microsoft word for free by using your Lee College sign in at the Microsoft webpage).

(Assignments not uploaded as a WORD DOC or DOCX or PDF file will receive a zero and be ignored. In other words, absolutely no txt, zip, .pages, or other files are acceptable. If you need help formatting, come see me during office hours).
Your grade for this essay will depend on how well you addressed each issue above.
Writing Process:
You will turn in two drafts of your essay. A “draft” means a completed draft that fulfills all the assignment criteria.
Rough Draft: The rough draft should be a complete 950 to 1,200 word essay that follows the assignment guidelines above. This draft should be posted as a PDF in MyReviewers so that your classmates can peer review it.
Final Draft: The Final Draft will be a polished, REVISED essay of 950 to 1,200 words that is posted in BOTH Blackboard and MyReviewers.
Resources for success:
Quoting, Paraphrasing, Summarizing sources:

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  1. Purdue OWL


  1. Writing Commons


  1. How to Write a Summary

Help for analysis:

  1. Here


  1. Rhetorical Analysis

Thesis help: Thesis statement help
MLA help:
A Handout
A video
Writing Center information can be found here
Note:  Bonus points for using EXTRA outside sources.
Some advice:  When you write a response essay that uses a single source, you must be careful to balance the writer’s ideas with your own.  Imagine yourself in partnership with the author, using his/her ideas and arguments as a base from which to launch your own.  Overall, though, it is your voice that should dominate your draft.  Your thesis and the points that support it should be based on your own opinions and written in your own words.
Your essay will have a connection to our discussions in class: these articles were selected based on their relationship to the theme of the unit.  You may also use other outside readings for supporting your ideas or supplementing your own opinions or experiences. Don’t forget you can go to the writing center during any phase of the writing process for help. Don’t forget I have office hours to help you better understand and help you with your essay. Don’t forget I have an email address where you can write me quick questions. Don’t forget you have my phone number to call or text me concerns or to clear up confusion.
Victor Villasenor “Burro Genius”
Sherman Alexie “Indian Education”
Chuck Palahniuk “Zombie”
Richard Rodriquez “Hunger Memory”
Langston Hughes “Theme for English B” and “Dreams”
Paulo Freire “The Importance of the Act of Reading”
Melinda Anderson “The Economic Imperative of bilingual Education”
Ta-Nehisi Coates “If I were a Black Kid. . .”
Jimmy Santiago Baca “Coming into Language”
Linda Darling-Hammond “Unequal Opportunity: Race and education”
“The Guiding Idea. . .”  Writing Common
Help for writing style:
Natalie Goldberg “Be Specific”
“The Poisoned Fish”
Cover Sheet: (should include the following):
Topic – What question does your essay answer? What will reading this essay provide the reader? Is the essay informative? Persuasive?
Purpose, Audience, Significance – What effect did writing this essay have upon your perspective of the issue you selected? In other words, briefly describe how your ideas evolved throughout the writing process. What did you learn about the topic and how did those thoughts develop? Who is the audience for your essay (Be SPECIFIC)? What is the significance of your essay? Why should your reader read your essay?
Writing Process – Discuss the role peer review, pre-writing, drafting, and the writing process played in developing your ideas for this essay.  Was it helpful?  How or why not?
Evaluation – Do you think the essay clearly presents your best thinking on this topic? Why or why not?
Concerns – Do you have any major concerns at this point in the writing process?  If so, describe them.  If not, what has helped you feel confident in your essay?
Afterthought: If you had another week to revise this essay, what would you do?


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