This short essay assignment is similar to the text analysis assignment, but differs from it in that there are only four essays throughout the semester (and revisions) and it emphasizes interpretation much more.
Reflection Essay Requirements
ECC238, T. Mitchell, Spring 2009
“To exist is to stand out, away from the background. You aren’t thinking or really existing unless you’re willing to risk even your own sanity in the judgment of your existence.” —Frank Herbert
Over the course of the semester, you’ll be expected to turn in four well-written reflection essays. Each of these essay will account for 15% of your semester grade (all four together determine 60% of your semester grade). The purpose of the reflection essays is to further your exploration of the assigned texts.
Try to show me that you have read the texts critically and thought deeply about what you have read. Focus on interpreting a specific aspect of the text rather than skimming the surface or giving general comments or opinions. A good starting point is to briefly identify how the work impacted you, then move on to a critical approach, theme, or analysis of basic elements (such as looking at how the text’s point of view, setting, voice, or other element influences the way you interpret the text). Develop the heck out of one interesting idea. The best essays are those that strive to discover something significant that the casual reader would not have noticed, and then support and explore effectively with quotes from the text.
1) There will be six opportunities during the semester to write a reflection essay. The only essay I’m requiring everyone to write is the first one on short stories. After that, you’ll get to pick and choose which texts you respond to, as long as you complete four essays on time.
2) Reflection essays are due on or before the due date given on the syllabus. Essays turned in after that due date will not receive full credit. The later they are, the more points they’ll lose.
3) Essays will be graded on a ten point scale (i.e.: 10 = A+, 9 = A-, 8 = B-, etc...). In grading these, I consider “8” to be the grade for doing a good job and fulfilling assignment expectations. In order to earn a grade higher than an “8” you must exceed assignment expectations. A grade lower than an “8” means your reflection essay didn’t fulfill assignment expectations, or it was late. Consider putting more thought and care into your reflection essay, developing your points further, including more textual support, and revising your writing more before turning it in.
Please don’t hesitate to schedule a conference with me, or go to the Writing Center (Eddy 6) if you’re having difficulty writing the reflection essays.
4) You will have the opportunity to rewrite/replace one reflection essay. Rewrites are due two weeks after your reflection essay is handed back to you. I have higher expectations for rewrites. To replace an essay, simply turn in an additional essay on one of the other books (note: this must be submitted on time).
5) The topic and approach of your reflection essay is up to you. You’ll find suggestions and examples of the type of essay I’m expecting you to write on pages 1768-1797 of The Story and Its Writer (I highly recommend reading these examples if you wish to do well on this assignment). Reflection Essays can be explication, analysis, or compare and contrast, as long as they’re interpreting some aspect of the assigned reading that you find interesting and significant. Your essay should shed light on what the story means and support all ideas with quotes from the text. I’ll try to give you ideas of different things you could write about in lecture, and class discussion will be another good source for ideas.
—Essays must be typed. Double-spaced. 12 point font. Around 2 pages (no more than 2.5 pages!) Revise several times to make your essay concise and brilliant.
—The reflection essays must interpret the text, rather than merely summarizing the text or giving unsupported opinions.
—You must support ideas with quotes from the text. Give a close textual analysis of complex quotes to show how you’re interpreting them. A good reflection essay will include at least three quotes (or more, depending upon how you’re using the quotes). Outside research is not required, but you may use it if you wish. I recommend keeping a narrow focus in your essay so you can support things adequately.
—Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, style, clarity, and spelling. Since the essays are short, I expect them to be very well-crafted and well-revised pieces of writing.
“At each moment our risk is our cure. Stop suffering now and sleep.” —Lee Upton