February 17, 2022
Your first essay is in the books. Congratulations. Now the real work begins. I have evaluated all submissions for your reader-response essays, and I would like to offer some general feedback. I have left comments and notes on every submission, so you should also consider each of these carefully as you work to improve your college-level writing about literature.
Follow all directions. First and foremost, all directions must be followed. If you are required to go to the Writing Center for consultation, it is a mandatory part of the assignment. Not doing so will cost you points. This is a simple process that is designed to help you improve your writing. Please do not ignore inconvenient parts of any assignment.
Know what you’re doing. If you’re asked to write a reader-response, be sure you know what a reader-response is. In this case, Sipiora defines it in his introduction to chapter two; he provides a sample essay on pages 35–37; and he outlines an approach to writing on pages 41–45. I also have an essay on this web site that could help. In addition, when asked to format the essay according to MLA, you need to know how to do that. I have instructions with examples linked off the syllabus. Please follow these directions.
Use only valid secondary sources. Though this reader-response did not require any research, some of you included it any. Bravo! However, most of the secondary sources used, wicth some noted exceptions, are unacceptable for college-level essays, like any web sites especially ones like Spark Notes, Gradesaver, and reference sites like Wikipedia. These are fine to get some general background, but should never be cited on college essays. Period. This is lazy research. As I have said many times before, the only acceptable secondary sources to cite on your essays come from books and scholarly journals that you find through Galileo. There will be no exceptions to this rule moving forward. I understand that it takes a few more steps to access Galileo, but this is a necessary part of this course and becoming educated. See Using Library Resources for English Research for more.
Review the basics. Please review “Writing in the Liberal Arts.” All of what it covers is important, and many of you are still making basic mistakes, like dangling quotations. I have referred to this document several times, and some of you still need to review it. You also might have a look at the Editor’s Checklist, too—especially during your final proofreading before submission. This latter document cover common mechanical and grammatical issues that first-year composition students often have issues with.
Write strong titles. Your essay titles should reflect the content of your essay. They are not perfunctory, but a necessary part of communicating just what your essay is about. Titles like “Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Indian Camp,’” or “Reader Response," or “Report 1” say nothing about your essay. See Writing Strong Titles for more details.
Do not summarize the plot. College essays are not book reports. I have read the stories; I do not need a summary. You all can do this; I get it, but I do not want to see it. That said, specific parts of the text should be used to support your assertions, but paragraphs summarizing the story should be omitted.
Leave the reader alone. Avoid putting “the reader” (or “we” or “us”) in your essay. For example, “The reader will notice that Hemingway’s prose is minimal, requiring us to use our imagination to fill in the details.” Try instead: “Hemingway’s minimalist prose requires close reading.” More succinct and accurate—Hemingway would approve.
Rewrites are intrgal to the writing process, and I encourage everyone to do them—especially before; submitting them for evaluation. However, I want to give the opportunity for you to write after evaluation, too. That said, rewrites are optional, but if you scored lower than a 70, you really should take advantage of this opportunity. You may not rewrite if you did not submit an essay to begin with. If you want to rewrite, please follow these directions:
- You may submit a rewrite at any time before the next essay is due. In this case, that’s before March 8, 2022.
- You must take the essay to the writing center for assistance on rewriting. List the top three areas that need improvement based on my feedback, and tell the tutor you want to work on those areas. If you have time after your appointment, revise and rewrite and make another appointment.
- You must actually rewrite the essay. It should be significantly different than the original, showing more than just minor grammatical and mechanical fixes.
- You must use two strong secondary sources for support (see above), even if (especially if) your original essay did not.
- You should upload your rewrite to the original assignment on D2L, marking it clearly as your rewrite.
That’s it. Your final grade for Report 1 will be an average of your original grade and your rewrite grade, so be sure to make your rewrite as strong as you can. Failure to follow any of the instructions above will render your rewrite invalid.
Questions or comments? Please post them in the Reddit thread linked below. If nothing else, please give the post an up-vote when you have read this feedback, though any participation will be noted.