Mr. McMahand


English 1101


Rules and Topics for Essay One


You will compose a two to three page response to one of the assigned texts (i.e. Doskoch, Anders, Lefkowitz, Naylor, or Egan).  In this response, you must analyze a major point from one (or possibly two) of the aforementioned essayists and then use that analysis as the foundation for your extended comment.  Your analysis should run less than a page and your own creative, individual response much longer—a page and half to two pages.  I want you to respond directly to the ideas espoused in the source text, agreeing or disagreeing with them, expanding or complicating them, etc.  You should provide examples, details, and reasons as support for your analytical claims. Then you should “step away” from the source text to expound on the subject from your own personal perspective.  What experiences or observations can you draw on to address further the topic discussed in the source text?  How do these observations help you concur with or controvert the viewpoints espoused in the published writing?


You should follow a few helpful hints while crafting and editing your papers.  Please do not waste your time (and mine) opening your essay with shopworn observations (“In today’s society…” or “Throughout history…”); you would do much better to cut straight to the subject so that discussion and development far outweigh any spindly, dim-eyed, limp-backed, wizen-toothed preamble you might otherwise give birth to.  Also, do not over-summarize the source text.  Take for granted that the class and I have already read the material.    



Requirements: Quote from your source text (but sparingly, NO BLOCK QUOTES.)

                          Use correct MLA parenthetical documentation for all quotes.

                          Write formally (but not in overblown, pretentious rhetoric and prose.)

                          Rough Draft due TBA;  Final draft due TBA

                          Three to four pages, TNR, 12 pt.        

                          Titles such as Analysis of Lefkowitz’s Article will not suffice.




1.         To what extent does militia mentality contribute to school shootings—at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999 or the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007?  Write an argumentative essay on the appeal militias or militia mentality hold for some young people.  To develop your ideas, consult Bernard Lefkowitz’s piece “Don’t Further Empower Cliques.”


2.         Read through a pro-gun magazine such as Soldiers of Fortune or American Rifle, studying both the articles and the advertising.  Write an essay in which you analyze the ideology implicit in the magazine. To what extent does the publication’s ideology match that of the militia groups described by Doskoch?  Are these periodicals dangerous?  Do they inflame militia thinking?  Or, are they harmless readings for those peaceably inclined in militia activity, hunting, and outdoor sportsmanship? 


3.         Do you accept or disagree with Doskoch’s claim that terrorism is mostly a transnational phenomenon, that Americans should not confuse homegrown militia operations with terror groups who violently oppose American civilization?  Also, how does your opinion here impact your attitude about infiltration?  Do you favor Doskoch’s argument that infiltrating these groups pose more harm than good?



1.         As “Beauty and the Battle” shows, winning acceptance in one group might mean alienating another.  What has Heather Whitestone given up by not learning to sign, by not socializing primarily with other deaf persons? Has she paid too great a cost by assimilating into the mainstream?  What implications, good and bad, does her mainstreaming hold for other disabled people?


2.         In an essay, reflect on the reasons behind “crab theory” (para. 17) in any minority group.  To develop your evidence, you might interview members of a minority group and ask them about their experiences with intragroup critique.  To what extent does the mass media play a role in encouraging crab theory?


Construct an essay around the author’s split between mutilation and modification.  Is there possibly a gray space between these two phenomena;

in other words, is body modification a serious problem that people are not taking seriously enough at the moment?  Why or why not?  Are modifiers concealing a dangerous and unhealthy psyche behind a performative disguise and claims of pride and self-assertion?  Or, are we trying to impose an unfair and prejudicial standard on people who simply choose not to assimilate fully into the mainstream?



Respond to Lefkowitz’s charge that a school’s celebration of athletes and their accomplishment can “honor this one type of youngster-aggressive,

arrogant, and intensely competitive—above all others” (para. 6).  How has Lefkowitz skewed his argument?  How can athletics benefit youngsters?  How much fault should go to the athletes, coaches, doting parents, and other figures of authority?



1.                  Recently, the NAACP held a highly publicized press conference wherein members and guests ceremoniously buried the “N” word, suggesting its

death in casual and formal discourse.  This act directly opposes Naylor’s perspective.  What stance do you take, for or against Naylor or somewhere in between, and why do you take this stance?  Ground your argument in your own subject position as African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, Asian American, or Native American.  How does your racial identity inform your attitude toward this use of the word?  How does your race complicate (or simplify) your relationship to the word? 


2.                  How would Naylor’s argument apply to other inflammatory words and phrases, language often infused with hateful contexts and histories.

Consider bitch, faggot, and towelhead, to name but a few derogatory terms regarding gendered, sexual, and religious difference.  Analyze Naylor’s concept of appropriation and then articulate a stance on other forms and acts of appropriation.  Can these words and their attached identities ever achieve total redefinition?  How does your own subject position within or apart from these identities complicate or simplify your argument?