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First Year Writing Seminar Assignments and Rubrics-revised.docx

First Year Writing Assignments and Rubrics Reading Assignments x 3

Three times during the semester, you are required to submit a 500 word response to the week’s readings that deploys one of three analytic genres below. You may not repeat a genre and all three are due prior to when your final project proposal is due.

Close reading: This genre asks that you engage with particular scenes or passages of a reading, paying close attention to the author’s word choice, form, style, and other granular elements that lend additional layers of meaning to the literal meaning of the text. Something that might intrigue you is how authors define and don’t define particular concepts such as the erotic. In instances when the author fails to explicitly define something, how does the meaning of the concept show up implicitly within the author’s word choice and rhetoric? How does the text address or not address you? How is it written? Why was it written in this way?

Comparative: This genre asks that you put more than one reading in conversation with another to lend new insights about both. You might find that placing a historical critique in dialogue with a cultural critique reveals something more about race, coloniality, and sexuality than if the texts were read in isolation. You might find generative differences between one author’s definition of the erotic and another’s, raising questions about what those differences say about the author’s political and intellectual commitments. Comparative analyses can also involve applying concepts in the readings to analyze phenomena in popular culture, the news, or in your personal life.

Reflective: In this genre, you are asked to deeply inquire about how the readings moved or not moved you, seduced, provoked, or repelled you. This genre is where you can sit with your feelings and reflect on your reactions to readings. What do your feelings reveal about the texts? About the interlocking ways race, coloniality, and sexuality manifest? This is also the space for you to speculate about how questions and concepts raised within a reading might extend to speak to other issues.

Grading Criteria
5—Excellent:
The assignment shows expert understanding of the analytic tools of close reading,

comparative, and reflective analysis. There is clear evidence of effort, insight, and creativity.

4—Very Good: The assignment was completed thoughtfully and carefully according to the assignment prompt and genres of analysis. The writing exemplifies a good handle over the genres.

3—Successfully Completed: The assignment was completed successfully. Demonstrates a great first-attempt at each genre.

2—Attempted: The assignment was genuinely attempted but not successfully completed. The genre is misunderstood or the writing falls into tangents that deviate from the genre.

1—Unsatisfactory: The assignment was not genuinely attempted. 0—No Credit: The assignment was not turned in or was turned in late.

Close Reading Pre-Work

A. Reading

As you read your choice of text, highlight thoroughly and take margin notes in answer to the following questions:

1. Which details stand out to you?
2. Which words, phrases, or symbols seem especially interesting or important?
3. What do you notice about how the author organizes the text/image and conveys information to the

reader/audience?
4. What do you notice about the author/characters? 5. What are the texts’ most important themes?

Use your notes to zero in one object, image, scene, or setting for close reading.

B. Gathering evidence

Type up a short list (with page numbers) of all the times that your object, image, character, idea/key word, or setting appears in the text. (If your subject appears more than three times, choose the most important three instances.) For each instance (A, B, and C), note:

1. What language, color, frames does the author use to represent this object, image, character, or setting? 2. What is at stake at this moment in the text? In other words, what conict is being negotiated, what

mood is being explored, or what desires are being expressed?
3. What role does this object, image, character, or setting play with respect to these stakes at this particular

moment in the text?
4. How does this moment relate to the larger themes of the text overall?

C. Creating a tentative thesis

Consider all the evidence you have gathered in the context of the play’s overall themes and arc. Develop one sharp sentence conveying the signicance of your object, image, scene, or setting for the play as a whole. This is your tentative thesis, which will (after revision) become the rst sentence of your essay.

Comparative Analysis Pre-Work

A. Choose your texts

As you decide on the two readings for your comparative analysis, consider the following questions:

  1. What commonalities do the readings share?
  2. How are the readings dierent?
  3. How does Object A help you interpret the meaning of Object B? How does one reading enhance your understanding of another text? This is the crux of a comparative analysis. You use one text as a framework and lens for analyzing another text. This is usually done between a theoretical/historical/academic text and a literary text.
  4. Now ask the inverse. How does Object B account for something that Object A does not? Usually, a ctional text can grasp something academic texts cannot. What could this be?

Use your notes to zero in one object, image, scene, or setting for close reading across the two texts.

B. Gathering evidence

Type up a short list (with page numbers) of all the times a shared theme, object, image, idea/key word, or setting appears across your two texts. (If your subject appears more than three times, choose the most important three instances.) For each instance (A, B, and C), note:

  1. How does a key word or idea from Object A help frame and enhance the meaning of the same word or idea in Object B? Collect quotations from both texts on their shared themes, ideas, images, etc. Can you then pair these quotations as if they were in conversation with one another?
  2. What role does each text play in their respective contexts? What is the intervention of the academic text and what is the intervention being made in the ction text? How does their relationship enhance or complicate the original intent of each text?
  3. What is at stake of pairing the two texts together? Re-conceiving the original and singular meaning of each text, how does talking about them together re-articulate the conicts, moods, desires, impact, and/or meaning of your textual objects?

C. Creating a tentative thesis

Consider all the evidence you have gathered in the context of the texts’ overall themes and arguments. Develop one sharp sentence conveying the signicance of the relationship between your two objects of analysis. Why should we read the two texts together? What is the pay-o? This is your tentative thesis, which will (after revision) become the rst sentence of your essay.

Reective Analysis Pre-Work

A. Reading

As you read your choice of text, highlight thoroughly and take margin notes in answer to the following questions:

  1. Which details stand out to you?
  2. Which words, phrases, or symbols seem especially interesting or important?
  3. What do you notice about how the author organizes the text/image and conveys information to the reader/audience?
  4. What do you notice about the author/characters?
  5. What are the texts’ most important themes?

Use your notes to zero in one object, image, scene, or setting for your reective analysis.

B. Gathering evidence

Type up a short list (with page numbers) of all the times that your object, image, character, idea/key word, or setting appears in the text. (If your subject appears more than three times, choose the most important three instances.) For each instance (A, B, and C), note:

  1. What language, color, frames does the author use to represent this object, image, character, or setting? How do these rhetorical, metaphorical, or allegorical moves enhance your understanding of the text and something you have personally experienced?
  2. What is at stake at this moment in the text? In other words, what conict is being negotiated, what mood is being explored, or what desires are being expressed? And why do you care about these stakes? How does the text illuminate what you are concerned about?
  3. What role does this object, image, character, or setting play with respect to these stakes at this particular moment in the text? And how does this object or idea play a critical role in your life?
  4. How does this moment relate to the larger themes of the novel overall? And how does this moment help clarify larger questions you have about your personal life and history? Repeat these questions to interpret and analyze specific events in your life that can help enhance, complicate, even contradict what a text is saying about an object or idea.

C. Creating a tentative thesis

Consider all the evidence you have gathered in the context of the play’s overall themes and arc. Develop one sharp sentence conveying the signicance of your object, image, scene, or setting for the text and your life as a whole. This is your tentative thesis, which will (after revision) become the rst sentence of your essay.

Project Proposal

In this assignment, you are expected to provide:

  • ●  An overview of the project’s topic and goals (including a working thesis, hypothesis, or line of inquiry, otherwise known as the “driving question”). Think of how scientific experiments are conducted. What is your working hypothesis and how will you go about answering that question? Your project should address issues brought up in the course readings. For instance, what is the relationship between language and the erotic? How have the texts we have read address this relationship? In this instance, you would examine how notions of the erotic and language could help or hinder a thorough understanding of an issue you care about such as racial-sexual trauma, war, intergenerational-trauma, illness, embodiment, sexuality, etc.
  • ●  Context: what do you already know that informs your question? Please refer to how 1-3 of your reading assignments set up the basis of your inquiry. How does your project build on your prior writing?
  • ●  A discussion of stakes: why is this project important to your audience(s)? Define your audience and the impact you think your project could make.
  • ●  A timeline for completion.
    This document should not be between 300-500 words. Grading Criteria 5—Excellent: The assignment shows expert understanding of what a project proposal is. There is clear evidence of exceptional effort, insight, and investment in the project such that it is compelling. This submission is likely to succeed at a grant competition. 4—Very Good: The assignment was completed carefully according to the assignment prompt. The writing exemplifies a good handle over what a project proposal is and is persuasive in demonstrating its own importance. This submission is adequate to submit to a grant competition. 3—Successfully Completed: The assignment was completed successfully. Constitutes a great first draft and foundation for a successful grant application. 2—Attempted: The assignment was genuinely attempted but not successfully completed. The genre is misunderstood or the writing falls into tangents that deviate from the genre. 1—Unsatisfactory: The assignment was not genuinely attempted. 0—No Credit: The assignment was not turned in or was turned in late.

Final Analytic Paper

In this paper, you are asked to build upon and revise your reading assignments, project proposals to write an analytical paper.

Your final paper should include:

  • ●  contextual information that helps set up your argument, your thesis, and its intervention within a larger critical conversation such as that about race or sexuality
  • ●  a discussion of multiple texts from the course syllabus in strategic and focused ways to present, support, and expand a coherent thesis. You may incorporate outside sources after consulting with your Professor.
  • ●  a close-reading, comparative, and/or a reflective analysis of a literary and scholarly text (in the case of a reflective analysis, it must be clear how your personal narrative contributes to your overall argument)
  • ●  a discussion of the rhetorical, theoretical, and social functions and issues of language as it pertains to your argument
  • ●  an organized, easy-to-follow, and strategic arrangement of your evidence and sub-arguments that each uniquely support your thesis
  • ●  proper citations and a bibliography in either the APA or MLA styles
  • ●  proper grammar and clear, compelling prose This paper should be between 6-8 pages, double spaced, in Times New Roman font size 12, with one-inch margins. It should also include: your first draft, the two peer review letters you received, and a self-reflective cover letter. Alongside the above, you are required to also prepare:
  • ●  Peer Review Letters: When offering feedback to your peers, did you refer to specific passages, patterns, and ideas to support your suggestions for improving your peer’s paper? Are the suggestions generative of more nuanced ideas and arguments, clearer thesis statements, and better organizational flow? Are the comments encouraging and also highlight things the author is doing well?
  • ●  Self-Reflective Cover Letter: Deepening your self-awareness as a writer is one of the best ways to strengthen your writing skills. Your final assignment must include a self-reflective cover letter in which you elaborate on your writing process and your development as a writer. Reflect back on the first draft of the paper and speak to the major challenges you faced and the major changes you made to address those challenges. (What were you planning to do, and what did you end up doing and why? What insights did you gain through the process of drafting and workshopping? How does your revised paper take into account the comments you received during workshop? Are you able to justify and explain how you addressed the challenges of the first draft in the final draft?) What are some aspects of your writing that you are still trying to work on as you look towards the next assignment? What aspects of

your paper did you find most exciting or interesting? While you don’t have to answer all the questions, your cover letter should present a personal narrative about your writing process.

Grading Criteria

A: Beyond fulfilling the basic requirements, this paper is both original and highly effective in its argumentation. It approaches its task in a sophisticated manner, taking into account the complexities of the texts and evidence in question. Its thesis is clear and demonstrates a refined understanding of the subject under consideration. The essay fully develops its argument through a logical (though not necessarily chronological) progression of ideas, mobilizing and analyzing specific textual evidence in support of its assertions. The essay anticipates and responds to possible points of opposition. Sub-arguments are linked to each other and to the main argument in a clear and coherent fashion. The essay’s prose is lucid and elegant. There are very few, if any, grammatical or spelling errors, and citations are formatted correctly.

The difference between an “A” and a “B” paper likely hinges on the sophistication and originality of the essay’s thesis and argumentation. An “A” paper is innovative and nuanced. A “B” paper is persuasive but misses a number of opportunities to push its argument to the next level.

B: Beyond fulfilling the basic requirements, this paper presents an argument that is convincing and competent. It argues a worthwhile point about a text. Though its argumentation is clear, well-organized, and gestures towards complexity, there may be some minor lapses in development. On the whole the essay does mobilize specific textual evidence in support of its assertions, though occasionally this evidence is either insufficient or inadequately explained. Sub-arguments relate to each other and to the main argument, but there are a few weak transitions. The essay’s prose may contain a few awkward sentences, but for the most part it remains clear and fluid. There may be occasional spelling and grammatical errors that do not impair overall comprehension.

The difference between a “B” and a “C” paper likely hinges on the specificity of the paper’s thesis and evidence. A “B” paper delimits its topic carefully and argues persuasively. A “C” paper tends to be too vague, general, or obvious in its argument.

C: This paper fulfills the basic requirements for the assignment in an adequate fashion, though it likely does not engage with the specifics of the text to the extent that it should. Its thesis may be too obvious, simplistic, or general. It supports and develops its ideas but in a fashion that is either vague or uneven. It has a discernible organizational structure but is weak at making connections between different sub-arguments and ideas. The essay’s prose likely contains a significant number of awkward phrases or is repetitive in its sentence structure and diction. There may be significant spelling and grammatical errors that temporarily disorient the reader without impeding overall comprehension.

The difference between a “C” and a “D” paper likely hinges on the paper’s engagement with the task of the assignment. A “C” paper contains a clear thesis. A “D” paper does not, or does not respond to the assignment.

D: This paper lacks a central thesis or does not respond to the assignment. Its ideas are vague or underdeveloped, and it likely makes generalizations in place of using textual evidence. If textual evidence is used, the ultimate purpose of this evidence is unclear. It is difficult or impossible to

discern the manner in which the essay is organized. It fails to connect its ideas to one another and to a main point. The essay’s prose may be broken and contain many awkward sentences that disrupt comprehension. There are often numerous grammatical and spelling errors.

The difference between a “D” and an “E” paper likely hinges on the genuineness of the paper’s attempt to respond to the assignment.

E: This paper fails to address the assignment on a number of levels. It does not contain a thesis and is disorganized. It does not use textual evidence, or the evidence it uses is irrelevant. Its ideas are neither developed nor clearly stated. It likely contains such serious mechanical errors that significant portions of the text are incomprehensible.

Papers that plagiarize will receive a “0”.

Note: Not all of the traits associated with a given grade must be present in an essay for the essay to receive that grade. For example, a “C” paper might be completely free of spelling and grammatical errors. The base grade (A, B, C, D, E) is determined by the set of traits that best characterizes the essay in question. Pluses and minuses will be awarded in accordance with the degree to which the essay possesses characteristics associated with the grades above and below the base grade.

Final Presenations

At the end of the semester, you will share what you did for your research paper. Each student will have 10 minutes for their presentation with 5 minutes for Q & A. You will be assessed not only on your presentation but how you engage with your classmate’s work during the Q & A. Your presentation does not have to concern your project as a whole but a segment of it. Think of this as a conference paper. What bite-sized argument can you present to your peers that will allow them to engage with you? What questions remain after completing your project that the audience can help ponder and even attempt to answer?

Grading Criteria

5—Excellent: The presentation is well organized and makes efficient use of time. Poses provocative questions and explains the stakes of the project clearly to the audience. Engages audience to examine questions and evidence together.

4—Very Good: The assignment was completed carefully according to the assignment prompt. The presentation is straightforward and introduces audiences to a nuanced thesis and argument.

3—Successfully Completed: The assignment was completed successfully, meaning it fulfills the basic requirements. A solid 10 min presentation that summarizes your project.

2—Attempted: The assignment was genuinely attempted but not successfully completed. The presentation lacks flow and clear organization though the necessary information about one’s project is communicated.

1—Unsatisfactory: The assignment was not genuinely attempted. 0—No Credit: The assignment was not turned in or was turned in late.

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