Essay #1 Prewrite

    • Due Wednesday
    • Points 5
    • Submitting a text entry box or a file upload

Consult pages 8-10 in A Writer’s Reference for information on prewriting techniques.  If you have been taught some other style of prewriting that works for you, however, please by all means use it!  I do not care what style of prewriting you use; I only care that you do some sort of planning of a paper before sitting down to write it.  Therefore, here are your topics to choose from for Essay #1.  This prewrite may be done via text input, or you can upload files, so if you want to take photos or make scans of a prewrite on paper, you can do so.  The prewrite is due by midnight on Wednesday, and the rough version of the essay itself will be due no later than Saturday, so please be aware of the timeframe you have to get crackin’ on this paper!

The paper itself should be four to four and a half pages or so (1200-1500 words, ballpark),

in proper MLA format.

You are going to be REQUIRED to integrate quotes from one or more of the readings you have done so far out of essay selections I have had you look at, so consider that as you choose which topic to write on.  Papers that do not use the readings in some significant way will lose a lot of credit, so keep that in mind, ok?  We will be bringing The Great Gatsby into our essay assignments eventually, but NOT YET!

At this point, only consider material from the essays you have read so far in the course as you craft your response…NOT the novel!


“Looking for Work” and “What We Really Miss About the 1950s” both discuss various angles of the idealized family…what we have created to be the perfect family in our heads, and in response to nostalgic memories and images of the ideal family presented to us through TV and other media.  Look at “Extending the Critical Context” #8 on page 41 of the text, and respond in essay form to this prompt.  Using “Looking for Work” in your response may be appropriate/possible, as well as using “What We Really Miss About the 1950s.”  What you may wish to do, too, is to compare a 1950s sitcom to to another that is on the air now or was recently.  Modern Family or Mom are two examples of good ones for comparing family dynamics, though I am sure you can think of several other possibilities.  Be certain that your paper is built around proving a certain point about the idealized family…that it is proving a thesis!  Also, if you use real life examples (or even theoretical ones), make sure to be descriptive and specific in your discussion…that’s why I had you do that silly descriptive details assignment…make sure to get your reader to picture exactly what you are talking about!  Many of you who did not grow up in the United States may not have any familiarity with the older American TV shows, so this may require you to do a little research.


Remember that experiment a couple weeks back where I asked you to disconnect yourself from your electronics for a while?  Well, do it again!  Spend time with friends or family playing an old fashioned board game like Monopoly or Clue in a gadget free phones, iPods (does anyone besides me still use an iPod?), TV, internet, and so on.  Describe and reflect on the experience in an essay, and compare the experience to the first time you did something similar for the discussion board question.  Was the experience easier the second time?  Harder?  More boring?  Less boring?  Did you suffer withdrawals from your phones?  Examine, analyze, and compare the experiences,  using the ideas/concepts/assertions/arguments in “Quality Time, Redefined” as part of your discussion.  Make commentary upon the article’s ideas, as well as your and your friends’/family’s experience with the activity.  Make sure to connect your discussion to some overall commentary for the general reader, however, so your experience matters to someone who does not know you.


This option is basically the same as Option #2 above, but if you feel you can simply comment upon the impact of social media, technology, and other types of media upon the relationships and interaction among your family members, perhaps for both good and bad, without performing the experiment the prompt on page 100 describes, please do so.  Does modern technology assist or hinder communication within your family and social circles?  Do you ever wish you could be less connected through technology?  Do you ever wish to be even more connected through technology and media?  Explain and discuss, making sure to have your paper assert a specific thesis that it is geared toward proving.


Keeping in mind some of the ideas and studies inside the essay “Making of a Divorce Culture,” discuss the effects a divorce has had on you or someone you know well.  What caused the divorce?  Was it necessary?  How did it change people’s lives?  Was the overall effect for the better or for the worse?  This should not be purely a personal narrative, however…you MUST use the article in a significant way in your presentation so that you are analyzing and commenting upon the forces and influences discussed within the essay by relating your own experience to the essay’s ideas.


Think of the selection from the book Marriage Markets that you read on page 77 of your text, and look at Extending the Critical Context #11 on page 86.  In an essay, discuss your views on the topics within that writing prompt, and feel free to extend the discussion out a bit into other types of social media that are not necessarily meant specifically for dating, but often facilitate communication and relationships, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on.  Do you sense there being social strata within the world of these online media?  Where do you fit in within them?  Make sure to thoroughly analyze and use the content of Carbone and Cahn’s article as you discuss your views, opinions, and experiences.

Announcements : Just to stave off the multitude of questions I get about this every semester, allow me to explain something about next week’s items, where I ask you to do “prewriting” and also to give me a rough draft.

Prewriting is NOT a rough draft.  It is planning out content that might go into a paper before you start writing it in earnest.  I am willing to bet that nearly all of you sit down when you have a paper to write, open Word, and just start typing and hope for the best.  Yeah, maybe you pull it off too, but that is NOT the best/strongest/most wise way to go about completing a paper and making it as strong as it can be.  Prewriting helps you make your rough draft better, which makes your final draft better.

Like it says in the assignment itself for next week, consult the pages in A Writer’s Reference that explain prewriting techniques.  The most common ones are clustering, freewriting, and brainstorming.  I won’t explain how/what you do with any of these here, because it is explained within your text.  Any of these things, though, typically are a page or less in length.  They take about fifteen or twenty minutes.  All of them basically are just techniques to get ideas down on paper ahead of time, so you can think on them a bit and include some, eliminate others, and just generally get an idea of what to say before you are actually trying to come up with paragraph content on the fly.

So basically prewriting takes about a page.  A rough draft, which you need to give me later in the week, needs to be basically a complete paper…just one that still could use proofreading, revising, editing, etc.

I hope that helps…again, please look at the pages in the text that explain prewriting…they will clarify further!  🙂