Academic Analysis of Literature (usually of a visiting author’s text) (3-4 pages) 15%
In this literary analysis essay, students will discover a thesis in the text of a visiting author and support this thesis with textual evidence. Spring EN 102 classes will have the opportunity to meet the author.
Position Essay on Student Source Use in the Academy Using Class Readings (4-5 pages) 15%
Students will take a position (a thesis they discover) on an issue and support this position with the secondary sources that the class has read and with their own experience. This assignment allows students to focus on integrating their ideas with the ideas in their sources; all the sources will be quality ones that both the instructor the other students know well. In writing this assignment, students will also focus on writing academic prose–on formality of tone, academic conventions of organization, and development of ideas.
The sources students read and reference and the position essay students write are about student source use. For this assignment, the class reads five or more academic essays that explore the role of the Internet in information type and availability, intellectual property rights in the digital age, quantitative studies of student source use, and discussions of plagiarism. Students reflect on their own source use in college and high school, and they write a position paper about one topic of student source use, referencing three of the class readings and, optionally, their own experience. This essay is sometimes due after the research project so students can use their experience researching in this essay.
Annotated Bibliography (4 pages, at least 5 sources) 20%
The annotated bibliography may be the most important project of the semester. This project isn’t a means to an end but is itself an end; information literacy and engagement with sources is a focus of Marymount’s first-year writing program.
The annotated bibliography will focus on secondary sources, most of them academic, and will be evaluated on how relevant the sources are to each other and to the narrowed topic at hand. Students will also be evaluated on the degree to which they fully engage these sources in the annotated bibliography that 1) summarizes the source, 2) explains its rhetorical context (the journal and its audience, the purpose of the article, the conversation/debate it references, its genre conventions, its organization, the evidence it marshals in support of its argument, and its disciplinary assumptions and values), and 3) articulates the ways the source helps them understand their research topic in all of its complexity. A research log and or research reflection may also be a part of this assignment. This project isn’t a means to an end (a position essay that draws on its resources) but is itself an end; information literacy and engagement with sources is a focus of Marymount’s first-year writing program.
Students will either research a topic growing out the visiting author’s text, such as, if reading The Things They Carried, the Veterans Administration support for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or reasons for the shortage of male nurses.
EN 102 pays explicit attention to the disciplinary conventions of academic writing (for example, how to read social science articles by focusing on the discussion section rather than the methodology or data sections that precede it). This attention should help with the summary requirement of this assignment. Writing these summaries (and evaluating them – instructors will need copies of the sources in order to evaluate the bibliography) will be incredibly time-consuming, and the project weighting, 20% of the final grade, reflects this fact.
There will be one library session in support of this project; students researching an issue from the visiting author’s text will use the general library databases. No matter their topic, students will have to locate many, many sources before they find five useful sources for their research topic/question.
Position Essay on Annotated Bibliography Topic and Research (4-5 pages) 15%
Using their research in the annotated bibliography, students identify an angle or theme or position they can support about their topic, and they write a position essay for an academic audience. This angle or position will likely be a response to the research question that drove the annotated bibliography; this response will not often be an answer to the question, but rather a statement about the possible answers to the question or a statement about the difficulty of answering the question with any certainly, etc.
In-Class Presentation on Project III Research and Final Exam Panel Presentation & Reflection 10%
Because the academic conference is such an important academic genre, the composition Saturday exam day will become a mini research conference in which students present the findings of their research on panels with students from other classes. All students will have a role––some will present, some will chair panels, and some will ask questions. Prior to the conference, students will present their position essay findings to their individual class, with the class (instructor and students) deciding which students will go on to present at the conference. This event is the capstone of the first-year writing program, and all students must attend the entire afternoon of panel presentations.
Midterm Exam (academic analysis of literature) 15%
This exam will focus on a literary text and will be staff graded.
Class activities, assignments, and attendance – 10%