Essay Assignment

Return to Essay

Project #3 Assignment

(GWRIT 103-McDonnell)

As we learn from Ed Madden in “An Open Letter to My Christian Friends,” for some, feelings of difference can create serious identity issues and questions about how to live in a culture that pathologizes a particular difference. The struggles of people who exhibit some kind of difference from the “norm” in our society were a common theme in all of the selections we read (and viewed) in this unit. For example, when Steven Lofton declined to fill out the question on the Florida adoption form that asked about his sexuality, he and his long-time partner, Roger Croteau, were forbidden to adopt, creating a precarious situation for Bert. Such situations and feelings were not limited to homosexuals, though. Nora Ephron had a physical difference that she felt impacted her adolescence, and she takes an irreverent look at this difference in “A Few Words about Breasts.”

It’s easier to blend in, to hide, to follow the crowd, to refuse to think independently. Yet, we find in this unit various examples of ordinary and extraordinary people who courageously stand up and break free of what Martin Luther King, Jr., calls “the paralyzing chains of conformity.” Rosie O’Donnell, for example, identified herself as a lesbian adoptive parent so that she could put a face on the issue of gay adoption. Ed Madden, identifying himself as homosexual, sent out a letter to his Christian friends who objected to the show Ellen. The Hardy family also put their faith on the line to draw attention to what they came to see as the narrow-minded policies of the Mormon Church. All of these stories describe struggle, but they also demonstrate strength and tenacity.

Everybody has some kind of difference. Often, this difference is exalted—it can be considered one feature that helps to make a person an individual. On the other hand, a difference can become a source of teasing and prejudice, a source of feeling apart from the crowd. Such a difference might be religious, ethnic, gender related, familial, physical, or situational. How are you different? How has this difference impacted your life? What have you learned about getting along in the world or humanity or cruelty? Has your view on your difference remained static throughout the years? Or has it evolved over the years? For this assignment, you will create an argument about something about you that’s different, that sets you apart from others, whether in a positive or a negative way. To create an original argument will require deep thought and careful observation. We identified narrative as an effective way of building evidence for an argument. Narrative—telling a story—can be a risky way of writing, for it requires you to expose a part of yourself to readers. The best writing, though, is always risky, so you’re encouraged to incorporate narrative as part of your argument.

Some of the concepts we’ve been covering in this unit that you should give special consideration when composing your argument follow: addressing a specific audience (not the general public), creating a vigorous style, and closing your paper effectively. Keep in mind the suggestions and strategies from the textbooks for meeting the expectations of your readers in each of these categories.

The three student examples you’ll read as your Issues and Outlook reading for Monday would each qualify as relevant and appropriate arguments for this assignment. With each, you’ll notice different levels of exposure from the writer. You must determine how comfortable you feel with divulging personal information in a paper written for yourclassmates to read. First person is, of course, acceptable. Essentially, your argument could take one of many different angles, but it must meet the following criteria and deadlines:

• The thesis must be arguable and focused (typed working thesis due on Monday, November 7th)
• Your argument must also have a research dimension. For your research for this assignment, you may only use “print” sources, at least two. “Print” sources include books, magazine articles, newspapers, films, news programs, etc. Any materials found through the library’s research databases count as print sources, even though technically they are electronic and web-based.
• The argument must consist of at least 1,150 words
• A full rough draft must be brought to class and submitted to Blackboard’s File Exchange on or before class time on November 14th (if you do not have a completed rough draft in class on this day, then your grade on the final version will be reduced by ten points). Absence from class is not an excuse.
• Comment sheets must be posted to the File Exchange by class time on November 16th. Also bring to class a draft on that day.
• Portfolios must be submitted at the beginning of class on November 18th


Return to Essay