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									EXPO S-20e: The Essay Summer 2009 Harvard University Summer School Monday/Wednesday 12:00-3:00

Instructor: Paul Thur Office Hours: Monday 11:00-12:00 and by appointment Office: TBA Phone: 617-353-6134 E-mail: pthur@bu.edu Course Description What is an Essay? We will return to this question again and again in this course, as we read essays that explore the richness and variety of this form. Our focus, however, will be on the kinds of essays that people read and write in the university. You will read a number of challenging and provocative texts, written by anthropologists and literary critics, philosophers and art historians. Then you will write analytical essays in which you both frame the conversations in those essays and add your voices to them. We will focus on larger questions such as how essays present a lens through which to see the world, and how essayists speak (if not deliberately, then metaphorically) to each other. We will also work on smaller issues of stylistics, as we focus on technique and the ways writers use language. Our ultimate goal is for you to improve your ability to express complex, original ideas in readable prose. In attaining this goal, you’ll learn what every professional writer knows—that the secret to writing is REVISING—and you will learn it the way every writer does—the hard way. You will write drafts, which we will discuss in 20-minute individual conferences, and revise those drafts, sometimes extensively, before submitting the final version for a grade. You will also belong to a small writing group, which will change for each essay. This group will not only give you invaluable written and verbal feedback on your drafts, but will also help you develop and complicate your ideas, steer you in useful new directions, and generally provide some company during the often lonely process of writing. In addition to learning how to revise your prose, one of the most useful lessons of this class will be for you to learn how to benefit from and contribute to a writing group. You will read texts actively and closely, formulate your own interpretations of them, make persuasive arguments about them, revise substantially and effectively, and work with a community of writers. In the end, you will be more self-conscious about what you mean when you say, “I am writing an essay,” as well as more conscious of how others practice their craft.


Required Texts and Materials (available at The COOP) David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky, Ways of Reading, 7th ed. Andrea Lundsford, The Everyday Writer, 3rd ed. Gordon Harvey, Writing With Sources

Recommended A college edition dictionary

Writing Center Those of you desiring extra attention on your essays are encouraged to visit the Writing Center, located on the garden level of the Barker Center, 12 Quincy Street. Hours TBA.

Format for Essays --use a relatively new ink cartridge and white 8 ½ by 11” paper --use Times New Roman 12 or its close equivalent --staple the pages together in the top left hand corner (tip: buy a stapler) --put page numbers on your essay in the upper right hand corner --give your essay a title (which should not be underlined or italicized) --underline the titles of novels, plays, and books; place quotation marks around the titles of stories and essays --keep a copy of all your work for your files

Grading and Attendance I will grade only the final version of each essay but comment on each first draft. Unlike your essays, your writing exercises will be evaluated only with a check, check plus, or check minus. In grading each of your three revised essays, I will check to see that you have addressed comments that I (and your peers) have made. I adhere to the following criteria: “A” means exceptional, “B” means good, “C” means adequate, “D” means deficient, and “E” means unacceptable. A more detailed set of criteria will be distributed at the beginning of the semester. Always submit your work on time—late work is marked down by one-third of a grade for each late day. You must complete all major assignments to pass the course.


Here’s how the final course grade will be determined: Essay 1 (20%) Essay 2 (30%) Essay 3 (40%) Writing Exercises and Class Participation (10%)
Because Writing Program courses proceed by sequential writing activities, your consistent attendance is essential. If you are absent without medical excuse more than twice, you are eligible to be officially excluded and failed. On your second unexcused absence, you will receive a letter from me warning you of your peril.

Completion of Work
Because your writing course is a planned sequence of writing, you must write all of the assignments to pass the course, and you must write them within the schedule of the course--not in the last few days of the summer term after you have fallen behind. If you fail to submit work when it is due, you will receive a letter from me reminding you of these requirements. The letter will specify the new due date by which you must submit the late work. If you fail to submit at least a substantial draft of the piece of writing by this new due date, you are eligible to be excluded from the course and failed.

Plagiarism Please read the following statement about Plagiarism carefully:
Plagiarism is the theft of someone else’s ideas and work. Whether a student copies verbatim or simply rephrases the ideas of another without properly acknowledging the source, the theft is the same. A computer program written as part of the student’s academic work is, like a paper, expected to be the student’s original work and subject to the same standards of representation. In the preparation of work submitted to meet course requirements, whether a draft or final version of a paper, project, assignment, computer program, or take-home examination, students must take great care to distinguish their own ideas and language from information derived from sources. Sources include published primary and secondary materials, the Internet, and information and opinions gained directly from other people. Whenever ideas or facts are derived from a student’s reading or research, the sources must be properly cited. It is the student's responsibility to learn the proper forms of citation according to the standards delineated by Harvard University. This is true even for students from other countries who have been taught to use sources in other ways. Copies of Writing with Sources: A Guide for Harvard Students and Writing with Internet Sources: A Guide for Harvard Students, both prepared by Harvard’s Expository Writing Program, are distributed to all students. Additional copies are available at Information Services, 51 Brattle Street, first floor lobby.

Unit I: Tradition and the Reading Self


June 22: Introduction, diagnostic essay, close reading exercise.

June 24: Read Richard Rodriguez’s “The Achievement of Desire.” Exercise 1.1 due. Exercise 1.1: Carefully read Rodriguez’s essay, noting the places that confuse, annoy, delight, or inspire you. In a one-page, “mini-essay,” discuss the different definitions of “reading” that Rodriguez presents in his essay. Be careful to cite the places that you refer to properly (see pp. 367-372 in The Everyday Writer).

June 29: Read Adrienne Rich’s “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision.” Exercise 1.2 due. Exercise 1.2: Come to class with two passages from Rich’s essay in which she directly or indirectly speaks about “tradition.” In one typed page, discuss these passages. What is Rich saying about tradition? How does she see herself in relation to what she calls tradition? How do you see her relationship to tradition?

July 1: 1st Version of Essay 1 due, no exceptions. Bring 4 copies, with cover letter, to class. Sign up for a conference. Assignment 1: Many university writing assignments ask students to consider a text through the lens or frame of another text. This is what you will do in essay 1, in which you use Adrienne Rich’s concept of “tradition” as a lens through which to interpret Rodriguez’s essay. Rich writes, “we need to know the writing of the past, and know it differently than we have ever known it; not to pass on a tradition but to break its hold over us” (540). In a 4-5 page essay, decide whether Rodriguez has or has not broken the “hold of tradition” over him. In other words, has Rodriguez become his own authority, or is he still merely a “dummy mouthing the opinions of others” (577)? Your thesis will make a statement about Rodriguez’s relationship to authority. Your evidence will consist of closely-read moments in Rodriguez’s essay that illustrate this relationship. This essay is due at the beginning of class. NO LATE PAPERS.

July 6: Peer Revision Workshop and in-class writing exercise.

Unit 2: Reading Culture: The Politics of Interpretation


July 8: Read Jane Tompkins’ “‘Indians’: Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History.” Exercise 2.1 due. Exercise 2.1: What exactly is the “problem of history” for Tompkins? What does she learn from the various historical accounts she analyzes in her essay? Does her analysis of these accounts lead her to a solution? Use textual examples to support your answer. One page, typed.

July 13: Read John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing.” Exercise 2.2 due. Exercise 2.2: Berger defines “mystification” as the “process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident” (140). According to Berger, what does Slive “explain away” in his (Slive’s) interpretation of the Hals paintings? How does Berger’s interpretation of the paintings differ from Slive’s? And if “history always constitutes the relation between a present and its past” (136), might we say that mystification is unavoidable? Your response should be one typed page.

TUESDAY, July 14: Final version of Essay 1 (two copies) with revision cover letter due by 3:00pm in my mailbox at 8 Prescott Street.

July 15: 1st Version of Essay 2 due. Bring 4 copies, with cover letter, to class. Sign up for a conference. Assignment 2: Many university writing assignments ask you to summarize a theory and then test its validity. In essay two, (5-6 pages) you will briefly summarize John Berger’s theory of “mystification” and then assess its validity as you examine 2 or 3 authors in Jane Tompkins’ “Indians.” What exactly might cause the historians Tompkins cites to “explain away what might otherwise be evident” to us? And what does this explaining away suggest about the worldview of each historian? Your motive might identify a problem in Berger’s theory. Your thesis will make a claim about the historical accounts. And your evidence will consist of closely-read passages in Tompkins’s essay that support your argument.

July 20: Peer Revision Workshop and in-class writing exercise.

Unit 3: Authors and Authorities: Writing as Resistance and Discovery


July 22: Read Susan Griffin’s “Our Secret.” Exercise 3.1 due. Exercise 3.1: What does Griffin teach us about “stories” in her essay? Is there a common “strand” or “thread” that runs throughout the stories she tells about her family, friends, and historical figures? In what ways does Griffin’s method of understanding historical events differ from conventional/traditional histories written about WWII? Does her essay suggest that we need to revise our understanding of “history”? One page, typed.

July 27: Read Walker Percy’s “The Loss of the Creature.” Exercise 3.2 due. Exercise 3.2: Like Griffin, Percy also relies on stories in his essay. Yet what does Percy want his readers to discover in these stories? What do tourists and students seem to have in common? And why is Percy so preoccupied with “experts”? What do these experts have to do with the different types of “loss” he talks about? Your response should be one typed page.

TUESDAY, July 28: Final version of Essay 2 (two copies) with revision cover letter due by 3:00pm in my mailbox at 8 Prescott Street.

July 29: 1st version of Essay 3 due. Bring 4 copies, with cover letter, to class. Sign up for a conference. Assignment 3: For many of the authors we have read —especially Griffin, Rich, and Rodriguez—going over familiar ground leads to certain discoveries about their own lives and the lives of others. Now it’s your turn to make some of your own discoveries as you go over some familiar textual ground. Choose a well-known fictional text (literary or visual) you have studied, a text that has generated an ample amount of criticism. Find out what critics or “experts” have to say about this text. Then, with the help of two of these critics and two authors from Ways of Reading, explore this well-trodden text in a 7-8 page essay. What claims can you now make about this text? Think of this assignment as an act of “entering an old text from a new critical direction” (Rich 540). It’s your opportunity to resist the “educational package” of “experts” and write about the discoveries you make as you scrutinize some familiar territory.

August 3: Peer Revision Workshop and in-class writing exercise.


FRIDAY, August 7: Final version of Essay 3 (two copies) with revision cover letter due by 3:00pm in my mailbox at 8 Prescott Street.

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