Progression 1: The Deepening Essay
Now it’s time to take all of the work you’ve done, distill it to its most essential and interesting components, and create an engaging exploratory essay. Some of this work may involve rewriting passages from successful exercises. Some of it will require you to discard the exercises that were less successful and write new material. Either way, you must do more than simply cut and paste together your pre-writing.
Start by stepping back from that preliminary work. Reread the Mercer Street examples and see how the student writers go about the process of exploration. Consider again, in light of all you now know, what you feel to be the central idea of your primary text. Then borrow the idea from your chosen essay and analyze it in light of these questions: What are the larger implications of the idea? How do other essays you’ve read in the course, or in other courses, change the way you think about the idea? How does your experiential or cultural evidence influence your thinking? What do you actually think about the primary text’s idea?
That’s what I want to learn from your essay. I want you to deepen my/your understanding of the idea as you pass it through your own thoughts and the thoughts of other writers. To do this work well you will have to play out your concerns against the backdrop of the chosen essay that set this whole process in motion. Your chosen essay provides the foundation for your ruminations, so your reader will have to understand that essay. You should spend a good chunk of space representing, analyzing, and uncovering the main idea from the chosen text. But the “deepening” will come through your own thinking, aided by the connections you make between the idea you borrowed from the initial essay and other pieces of textual evidence—as well as connections between the evolving idea and your personal experience
• At least three pieces of evidence – two of which must be your primary essay and secondary essay (from Occasions). The other pieces of evidence can be made up of personal experience, cultural evidence, novels, film, current events, painting, photographs, etc.
• MLA documentation. This means including a “Works Cited” list at the end of your essay. Also, when you paraphrase or quote key phrases or clauses from the chosen essays, parenthetical documentation is required. Follow the guidelines in the Little Brown Essential Handbook, pp. 152-172.
• The essay should be 5-7 pages long, double-spaced, typed.
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