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Critical Response Essay #1: Assignment Sheet

Due: Monday, 2/14/00, in the envelope outside my office door (Fenton 240) by 5:00 pm. It is your responsibility to complete your papers on time in the proper format; late papers will be accepted, but they will lose one-third of a grade for every day they are late and I will not provide comments on them.

Format: 4-6 pages (roughly 800-1800 words), with a title and a heading that includes the course number or title, your name, and the date; word-processed; double-spaced; font Times 12 point or similar; preferably laser-printed. [Please be aware that you'll get a better grade if you first develop your ideas fully, without feeling that you have to stop at a certain page or word limit, and then go back and condense, cut, and otherwise revise so as to be as concise, clear, and persuasive as possible. Don't let the page limit limit your exploration of ideas.]

Assignment Options: You have several options for your first critical response paper; however, unlike some of your other papers in this course, you will not have the option of making up your own topic or question for this first paper. With my permission, though, you may choose to address one of these options by writing a creative response paper.

Audience: In general, think of your immediate audience as those who have taken and are taking this class; hence, you can assume that your readers have read the texts you're writing on and you don't have to include the kind of background that someone not taking this course would need.

Advice: Every option asks you to write a persuasive or argumentative (in the good sense) essay, in which you develop and defend a central idea or thesis. However, as opposed to many of your high school essays, this essay will not require you to follow a cookie-cutter "5-paragraph" structure. In fact, you are encouraged to experiment with alternatives to this method of organization that requires you to fit your ideas into a pre-set format: the "funnel" introduction that culminates in a three-part thesis statement, three body paragraphs that each give an argument and evidence in support of the main thesis, and a conclusion in which you restate your thesis. I will still be looking for an organization/structure that effectively advances your main argument, but the key difference is that while in the past you may have been graded on how well you fit your ideas to the pre-set form, now you will be graded on how effectively the form you choose for the essay fits your ideas. This actually sets higher standards for your writing than in the past, and many students find it difficult to make the transition to the expectations of college writing. Please see me if you have any questions about what constitutes an argument, structuring or organizing your essay, or any other aspect of the writing process.

Rewrite Policy: I will accept rewrites of this first critical response essay, so long as you get them to me within two weeks of receiving comments on your previous draft from me. Because for a good number of you this will be your first piece of formal writing in an English class in your college careers, those who get their rewrites in on time can have their original grade replaced by the new grade.


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EN 209: Novels and Tales, Spring 2000
Created: 2/1/00, 4:11 pm
Last modified: 2/10/00, 2:47 pm