Major Essays and Essay Conferences

EXPO classes require that all students write two (2) complete drafts of four (4) extended writing assignmnents. Major essays must be developed through a three-stage process:

  • drafting and draft submission
  • essay conference
  • final revision submission.

Failure to complete all essay drafts will result in a grade of “F” for the course.

The four assignments for this course are best understood in relation to each other: the first three as a developmental sequence, while the fourth is something of a lateral move.

Essay I (4-5 pgs): Analysis Essay: an analytical argument focused by responding to a specific prompt.a response focused on a single text.

Essay II (6-7 pgs): Synthesis Essay: an essay in which you structure a closely analytical argument by synthesizing material from multiple texts

Essay III (8-12 pgs): Researched Argument: Using sources you find in our course bibliography and through your own independent research, write a paper that poses a focused and organized argument about a controversial or problematic aspect of our main themes: the intersections between biography, fame, and creative work. Here you will be able either to develop and refine a question already discussed in class, or swerve in a new direction.

Essay IV (2-3 pgs): Review/Response Essay: A short personal essay through which you reach a reflective conclusion about the themes we’ve been working with throughout the semester.

Essay drafts & revisions can be turned in late, but will incur a penalty of a letter grade for every full day they are late. If you are experiencing difficulty with an assignment or need more time to complete it, I will be happy to offer an extension; however, you must request one no later than the day before the due-date.

Separate prompts for each essay will be posted on the “Assignments” page; we’ll discuss each essay, and write short preparatory assignments (“Prelims”) as initial steps towards their completion.

The purpose of conferences is for us to have a focused, generative conversation about your essay draft and revision strategies. Each of the first two conferences will be a one-on-one conversation in which we discuss how you might revise your essay. (The final research paper conference may be a small-group conference—details TBA.)  The better prepared for and more actively you participate in each conference, the better your revised essay will be. The revision process is crucial to your growth as a writer!

Your conference draft must not be a “first draft”; it must not be a rough piece of exploratory writing in which you figure out what you want to say as you go along (or perhaps don’t even figure it out at all!) It should be a draft that you’ve already revised for basic organization, and that you’ve spell-checked and read over for errors. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your draft will be polished or problem-free; the starting point of our conferences will be things that you see as “not there yet” in your essay.  A draft must be of reasonable length (at least 2/3 of the length stipulated), and must be complete (must not be an essay that suddenly stops after 2/3 of the length stipulated). It should be reasonably free from error, but our focus in conference will not be on grammar, style and mechanics (punctuation, etc)–rather, we will focus on argument: on what the essay is trying to do.

I will mark up your draft during our conference; you should take your own notes as we talk.  I will also provide limited feedback after the conference, to address specific issues, using an essay-specific rubric; this feedback will not focus on “correcting” your essay, but on the process of revision:  of developing the strengths of your writing by seeing it anew.  You should come to conference with a clean copy of your essay draft, and with a brief set of notes in which you address 1) what you feel most confident about in the draft and 2) what problems you haven’t solved to your own satisfaction. The more fully you prepare for and more actively you participate in each conference, the better your revised essay is likely to be. The revision process is crucial to your growth as a writer!