English Essay



Purpose:The purpose of this assignment is to read critically, contribute to a focused

conversation, and organize ideas into a logical essay structure that synthesizes sources

to produce a clear argument about your chosen topic. This assignment process

constitutes a set of practical research skills that may be used to solve other complex

problems as they arise in your life.

Skills: You will practice the following skills in completing this assignment:

 Practicing a writing process involving reading, analyzing, and responding to texts

 Assembling and synthesizing ideas using argumentative essay format

 Properly citing source texts to demonstrate an awareness of ethics and audience

 Forging a clear, understandable, argumentative thesis based in research

 Finding meaningful connections between texts

Knowledge: By completing this assignment you will better understand how to use the

essay format to solve complex problems and present those solutions to your reader in

the form of subjective arguments. You will read and attempt to understand some difficult

scholarly texts. At the end of this process, you should know:

 The role of inquiry in solving complex problems

 How finding connections between sources can proliferate useful information

 That information or “research” varies in reliability and accuracy

 How framing, inquiry, and careful conversation can produce practical results

 That some degree of certainty can be useful for furthering a conversation

 That, in an essay, such certainty might take the form of arguable claims

Task:Your first task will be to decide on an issue that’s relevant to you. You are

welcome to derive your issue from your previous essay, or from any of the previous

texts we’ve read. Choose an issue you want to write about. Then construct a research

question, or a set of research questions. These questions should frame and therefore

constrain the possible directions you can take in writing your essay, and they will not

appear in your essay. In short, these questions should define the purpose of your


After you’ve produced some decent questions, visit the library’s databases to find at

least four scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources to use in your essay. You will undertake the

difficult process of reading and comprehending these source texts. As always, read

them actively and take lots of good notes. Be able to summarize your source texts.

Next, you’ll need to do some serious thinking about these texts. Think about the

connections and differences between them. Think about how their ideas might fit

together in some clever or creative way. Your goal is to try to synthesize and use these

sources to produce possible answers to your question.

Once you’ve conducted your research and arrived at some research-informed

perspectives on your topic, you will construct an argumentative thesis statement

articulating your subjective viewpoint regarding your topic. You will use this thesis as the

foundation for an argumentative essay 4-6 pages in length, formatted according to MLA

standards (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt font, 1” margins). Your essay will

contain an intro paragraph where you introduce your issue, the context for your issue,

and your thesis (an arguable claim,not a question). Your essay will have multiple body

paragraphs, each of which will ideally synthesize information from multiple source texts

(not merely deal with a single text). You will construct these paragraphs according to the

citation package format. Your essay will have a conclusion paragraph where you

summarize the conclusion of your reasoning process. It would also be a good idea to

include in your conclusion paragraph additional questions for further research. You will

create a Works Cited page on a new page at the end of your essay, and you will format

it according to MLA standards.

Please keep in mind that you are not going to dramatically change the world with your

essay, so avoid your instinct to tie up all of your work into a nice easy answer at the

end. Also, please avoid clichés and generalizations. Please do not rant about your own

personal experiences in your essay—this essay is a space for logic and reasoning, not

storytelling. Avoid excessive summary—instead, you should favor critical thinking. Be

honest and responsible at all stages of producing this essay. Make the process useful

for you and for your reader.