Essay 1

Due: Thursday, November 1, 2018 by 2:30pm

  • Submit file via Dropbox + bring printed copy to class
  • If you do not turn in your essay (digitally via Dropbox and printed copy) by the start of class on Th 11/1, you will receive no credit for the entire assignment. There are no extensions. Late work will not be accepted and will receive no credit.

Grading: Essay 1 is worth 10% of your overall course grade.

  • Plagiarism, in all forms, will not be tolerated. Any essay that plagiarizes will automatically fail (and you may fail the course as well). Refer to City Tech’s Policy on Academic Integrity on the Syllabus and Assignments: Formatting, Guidelines, Submission more specific details.
  • If you would like to discuss your ideas or drafts, please schedule an appointment to see me during my office hours. I am more than happy to discuss your ideas/drafts in person with you, at any stage of your reading/thinking/writing process. (note: I will not be holding office hours on Tu 10/30, so you should come see me sometime the week of 10/22 if you want to discuss this first essay)

Writing Task & Purpose
In class and on our OpenLab course site you have been using close reading to generate questions and ideas about various science fiction texts this semester. You have been thinking about science fiction as a genre, its themes, tropes, authors, publication venues and developments, especially as they relate to their historical contexts. You have also visited and reflected–twice–on the City Tech Science Fiction Collection.

For this first formal essay, you will build on this work, and turn a critical, reflective eye on yourself and your experiences in this course and with these materials and ideas. Your task is to reflect on them, describe them, and to make an argument for how they have shaped your views about the genre, your life, your major, and the world beyond.

You will describe but also provide analysis to produce a 3-4 (double-spaced) essay about your experiences, and that uses subsequent claims and evidence (texts–either read in class or outside, ideas, discussions, your own experiences, the world) to explore and support this argument. This essay should be a thorough and thoughtful (revised, proofread) piece of writing, that critically reflects on how science fiction (and the course) have re-/shaped your thinking.

In other words, this first essay is an individual mid-semester critical reflection on your development as a critical thinker, reader, writer throughout the course to date. How has your knowledge of/thinking about the purpose/power/scope of Science Fiction developed as a result of the readings/discussions in this course? What beliefs/assumptions have been challenged (or reaffirmed)? What new ideas have you encountered? Why? How might you apply this knowledge to other areas of study (e.g., your major, career), your life (relationships, hobbies, thinking), and/or society as a whole? What ideas do you find particularly compelling? What do you hope to learn more about in the second half of the semester?

Cover Letters
You must include a cover letter (approximately one page long, typed, single-spaced) as the first page of your essay (this letter does not count toward the minimum length of your essay). This reflective letter should be addressed to your readers (me and your peers), and should be written in the first person (it can be informal/personal). Essays without Reflective Cover letters will not be accepted & will receive no credit.

This Cover Letter presents the process behind your essay, and therefore doesn’t restate what your essay claims (the product) but rather discusses your drafting/revising process for this essay. It is a reflection of the reflection!

Even though you are only submitting a final draft to me, you should go through a number of steps (pre-drafts such as brainstorming, freewriting, outlining, peer review, first drafts, conferences with me and Learning Center tutors–if you wish, etc.) before you hand it in, and this Cover Letter shows how your essay has changed along the way.

In addition to responding to the questions below (holistically, in paragraph form: not in order or bulleted out), you should also free to add any other questions/concerns you have about your essay or the writing process.

  • What do you see as your main point (argument), and how has it changed from first draft to this final draft?
  • Describe your drafting and revision process. What was most challenging?  How did you approach those challenges?
  • What’s the number one question about your essay–its argument, structure, use of evidence, persuasiveness, style, and so on–that you most would like to get feedback on, and why?
  • Choose two elements of your essay–one that you think works well, and one that feels less successful–and describe why.
  • What would you continue to work on in further revision?
  • (If relevant) How did you engage with and incorporate (or not) my feedback (from office hours, conversations, etc.) or that of a tutor from the Learning Center, and how did that help to re-vision your essay / argument?


Argument + Organization Tips

  • This short essay includes description and reflection, but at its heart is is argumentative. Therefore, your thesis should be persuasive (but arguable), and your essay should be driven by analysis (subsequent claims and evidence). Remember that the purpose of this essay is not to merely summarize (simply report what we’ve done in class) or to write about some idea (e.g., progress) in general, but to critically consider how your encounter with the genre has affected you.
  • Keep in mind that, as in your blogs, in-class freewriting, class discussions, you can’t discuss everything about the text. Spend time choosing and focusing your ideas before you start drafting your essay. You are welcome to use one (or more) for the items on the Science Fiction Framework (think about central conflicts, major themes, big questions, competing values) as starting points for your brainstorming process.
  • This essay extends the thinking and writing you have already done in class and in your blogging. Therefore, while you should of course feel free to build on what you have already written this semester in blogs or other informal writing (or what we have discussed in class), do not simply repeat what you have previously stated elsewhere. Remember that your blogging is only an informal response to the texts we read and, as such, your posts may not be organized effectively or clearly / fully articulated. You should use this material as freewriting (or even a rough draft), and then work to revise it into a coherent and detailed argument. There is a much greater emphasis on analysis and structure in this essay than in your blog posts and other informal writing.
  • You should write your essays in the first person.
  • When discussing texts, use the present tense when discussing literature.
  • This essay builds from your close reading of your experiences in dialogue with texts and ideas we have read/discussed together as a class. You can also bring in other examples (relevant texts, contemporary events, or even your own outside experiences), but discussion of them should stay grounded in the core reflection/discussion of your experiences this semester, to date. [As always, choose specific quotes and examples from the texts that are relevant to your claims and use them in the service of supporting these ideas. Remember that each quote / example should be introduced, explained and analyzed, relevant, and cited (using MLA style for in-text citations). You should also provide a Work Cited page for the texts you use, at the end of your essay … this page doesn’t count towards the 3-4 page requirement for the essay).
  • Structure the essay according to your argument, avoiding mere summary, on the one hand, and the five-paragraph essay, on the other. When critically discussing your experiences in the courses, you should structure your essay according to your thesis (your argument about your growth in this class), not necessarily according to the order of the experiences themselves. You can describe but you must also analyze and provide argument (make meaning out of those descriptions and analyses).
  • Your essay should include: a focused thesis paragraph; body paragraphs that provide additional claims (topic sentences) and specific, concrete details and examples in support of both these claims and your overall thesis (do not keep repeating the same idea over and over again in different ideas); logical connections / transitions among sentences, paragraphs, and ideas (claims); a concluding paragraph.

*Please make sure to follow the Assignments: Formatting, Guidelines, and Submission expectations, and the helpful tips/strategies provided below and the materials under Writing Resources.