Formal Topics:  English 1102

Out of Class Essay II


Final Due:     Noted on the syllabus (submitted by the beginning of class)

Length:  3 to 4 pages (3 full pages, minimum requirement for a passing grade)

Format:  MLA for in-text documentation of quotations and Works Cited page


General Directions:  Choose one of the following topics and write a well-developed, coherent, unified essay of three to four pages, articulating a specific thesis conducive to the idea(s) listed below.  Be bold and make your own claim about the material.  Then, provide hard evidence to support your assertion.  


Assign interpretive, argumentative topic sentences

Use transition words and phrases to coordinate ideas

Develop plenty of support in your paragraphs

Sufficiently interpret the significance of your support

Address “how,” “why,” and “so what” questions that lead to compelling analysis



Write an essay on Ron Rash’s

The World Made Straight


Do Nots

Use slang or jargon

Use contractions

Use “you” (unless quoting or for a particular rhetorical stance)

Use opinion-based evidence (“I think” or “I believe”)

Lapse into generalizations


Select a recurring theme or pattern that emerges throughout

(i.e.- ascribed status versus achieved status, the intrinsic value of human life, how history shapes the present, debilitating personal and collective mindsets, the fragmentation of perspective and identity,  the search for stability, ignorance versus self-knowledge, self-mastery, appearance versus reality, landscape as destiny, etc., etc.)


Through intense pre-writing and careful study of the text, you should come to a conclusion of some specific argumentative nature about how your theme reflects something of significance about the texts and the author’s worldviews on something specific. In other words, you want to demonstrate something of broad general significance about the theme. What does the text suggest, for example, about the value of human life? In what ways is Dena valuable? What about Leonard and Travis? How does viewing their worth contrast with the conventional idea of value in the community? Etc.


Developing a specific argument about the theme you choose is the means by which you will most successfully accomplish this assignment. Whatever idea you choose, through a close analysis—serious theoretical questioning of the topic—you should develop conclusions regarding the meaning of the work, specifically the ways in which these texts convey broader socio-literary arguments about American culture: its dreams, fears, anxieties, ideals, and dreamers.


Remember that the A and B essay, as defined by our rubric, rewards compelling and creative thinking!



Keep in mind that analysis involves breaking things down into parts so as to better understand the whole.  Thus, you will need to pay special attention to the elements of fiction:  language, intertextual references, plot, narrative, character development, setting (often symbolic), images/metaphors, etc.