Topic: The field is wide open!


Topic: The field is wide open!The foundation for your topic could be one dynamic idea from a journal writing experience, one beautiful line from a reading, one random insight from lecture, or the intersection of all of these in a drunken conversation with your roommate.You must follow your own curiosity and thinking while essaying; search your journal entries for inspired moments or use ideas from your college journey to jumpstart your inquiry. Consider how your observations and experiences connect with your interests/field, challenge your values, or expand your understanding.You might go big (and reflect on your entire college experience) or go small (and analyze your growth in a mere 10 journal entries); the scope is up to you. Think about the connections you have made this semester in your life, writing, thinking and figure out what it might mean…

Purpose: To grow through the act of writing, to pour yourself onto the page and write an essay you are proud of, to tell a story and play with words in a way that is engaging – to essay.

Length: 5-6 pages long, MLA format & works cited page minimum of three outside, quality sources

Audience: Your intended audience is up to you; it could be other RWS305W students (current or incoming), your

professor or any demographic you envision would benefit from your content.

Exploration of Rhetoric + Reflection in Real Life = “Essaying”

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” ― Oscar Wilde

Upon retirement in 1571, Michel de Montaigne spent his time in the French countryside reading and writing, where he claimed to be merely “essaying” – which in French means trying – a kind of exploratory, unresolved thinking on the page. Montaigne suggested that in writing about himself, he was also “undertaking a study, the subject of which is man.” Essays traffic in ideas, asking questions, and explaining thinking in order to help the reader become equally enthralled.

This paper is a true essay in the classical sense that the writer should discover, articulate and express personal insights as they intersect with and circle around a specific topic or moment experienced in RWS 305W. Writing consultant Katherine Bomer in her publication “The Journey is Everything” states “The kind of writing I am arguing for in this book: prose pieces that are personal, lyrical, literary, descriptive, reflective, narrative, expository, philosophical, political, spiritual…all of the above.”Your goal? To craft an essay that has room for everything – essays linger, arouse, question, travel, contradict, reveal and expose the mind.

Successful essays will:

  • Be personal. Narrate you’re your own story/experience in first person, cultivate voice
  • Set up the text, context and approach in a way that allows you to enter the conversation
  • Use at least one class/college idea/moment as a “touchstone” – a foundation for your inquiry
  • Explore the larger contextual elements (moment in history, geography, age, situation…)
  • Possess a controlling idea, but also be creative, organic, logical – not formulaic
  • Be honest and accurate – identify and name your ideas, places, moments, setting
  • Possess a thoughtful, creative conclusion – good essay have striking beginnings and endings
  • Include quoted credible sources (writers, current voices, critics, peers…)
  • Use an epigraph to creatively contextualize your contribution to the conversation (see Wilde quote)

Essaying Epigraphs

epigraph noun

us /ˈep.ə.ɡræf/ specialized

  • a saying or a part of a poem, play, or book put at the beginning of a piece of writing to give the reader some idea of what the piece is about
  • a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme

*Notice the epigraph goes after the title, before the first indented paragraph, stands alone, is in quotation marks, and is attributed.

The Evolution of Ratchet

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

The famous Austrian-British philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, once contemplated language and came to the conclusion that “the limits of my language means the limits of my world” (Wittgenstein).


The Motto

“YOLO: You Obviously Lack Originality”-Unknown


The Forces that Keep Language in Motion

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” –T.S. Elliot, Four Quartets.

Words are used to describe objects, thoughts, feelings, and ideas.