|Essay #2: Comparison/Contrast.
For the second essay, you are to choose two (2) essays to analyze and compare and contrast. Your essay is due September 26th at the beginning of class. Like the other short essays, this one should be four to five pages long and presented in the appropriate format. You should, as always, print out two copies to bring to class or print these out at the start of class. Essays which are handed to the instructor after the first ten or fifteen minutes of class will be counted late.
In choosing the articles, you should find something interesting about two of them that you can start with, probably the same or similar subject matter. Read through the texts carefully, marking important points and making notes. Then you can use whatever the essays have in common as your starting point. You should review the PowerPoints on Rhetorical Situation so that you can use aspects such as persona, style, audience and so on as part of your comparison/contrast. You might try using a grid or Venn diagram to chart out points in the essays you’ll want to discuss. Be sure to hand in any notes or invention exercises with your draft.
Your thesis statement should definitely go beyond just saying “the essays are alike and different,” although that’s all right for a starting point in your notes. You should answer questions in your thesis, such as “Why did the author choose this persona and style?” and “How does the author convey his/her attitude toward the subject matter and audience?” Think about the significance of the authors’ choices. Consider how the “story” or subject matter would be handled differently if it were told from a different point of view, in a different style or structure, or with different metaphors. Look at the content and decide if the connections between the conclusions and the details and specific are logical. If it is a research article, consider the methods used to come to a conclusion (or to confirm or question a hypothesis). If you find that you simply don’t have a lot to say, you may need to find different essays to write about.
Remember that your thesis is the main point you are trying to make about the essays.
Your thesis should be supported by details, explanations, and examples from the texts which are logically connected to your conclusion. When you quote from a text, you should quote exactly, using the same words and punctuation as the author and making sure your reader can tell which author you are quoting. Anything you paraphrase or summarize should be entirely in your own words (except perhaps for proper nouns, that is, names of persons or things) to avoid plagiarism. You should review the discussions of comparison/contrast on the Purdue OWL Webpage and the handouts page from UNC for help with organizing your essay.
Review of the Steps in this Process
Your first step is to select an essay from among those we have read in class on a subject that interests you. Then either find another one on the class Website or do some reading to find another source. The second essay must be fairly long (more than a few paragraphs) and not a student sample; it should be something that anyone can read without knowing other texts (that is, not a review of a movie, book, etc.). It should not come from a database set up with paired arguments, such as Opposing Viewpoints. You should identify the author’s purpose and the genre of the essay (description? explanation?) and the main points of the essays. You must, of course, start with two works that have a strong basis for comparison; otherwise, you will have little to say. Suggestions are below.
Your statement of which articles you have chosen should be emailed to the instructor before Monday, September 24th at 7 am.
Next, after taking notes and rereading the essays, you should articulate your thesis. Your thesis statement should go beyond a generic statement and should explain specifically how and in what ways the articles are alike and different. Use whatever method you prefer of charting out your thinking. You should answer questions, such as “Why did the author choose this persona and style?” and “How does the author convey his/her attitude toward the subject matter and audience?” Think about the significance of each author’s choices. Consider how the “story” would be different if it were told from a different point of view, in a different style, or with different metaphors. If you find that you simply don’t have a lot to say, you probably need to find different essays to write about.
Develop details, explanations, and examples from the texts to support your thesis. When you quote from a text, you should quote exactly, using the same words and punctuation as the author and making sure your reader can tell which author you are quoting. Anything you paraphrase or summarize should be entirely in your own words to avoid plagiarism.
Print out two copies to bring to class on September 26th, one for the instructor and one for peer review at the beginning of class. Remember that essays which are emailed only will be considered late.
Please ask questions if any of this is not clear. And get your choices to me asap so that I can read them. Remember that all topics must be approved in writing.
Look at recent stories in the NY Times and articles in the other English 101 folder as well as this term’s. Possible choices for comparison:
Tanya Barientos and Amy Tan on language
Scott Russell Sanders and Deborah Tannen or another article on gender differences
Estabrook on tomato pickers and Orwell’s Wigan Pier or another article on workers
Bargh on the psychology of advertising and another study of that subject
Virginia Sole Smith, “Pink Pyramid Scheme” on Mary Kay and another story on this type of business. This is only available in paper copies of Harper’s August 2012 issue, as far as I know and not online excerpt for subscribers. But you can read an introduction, snippet and some responses starting here: