Fall 2015—Carrie Jean Schroeder
Essay #2 Assignment: Profile
(17.5% of course grade + 2.5% for portfolio)
For your second essay, you will be writing a profile of an intriguing person or an activity an interesting person performs (like a hobby, job, or volunteering position), following the general guidelines established in Chapter 3 of the St. Martin’s Guide. (Again, this assignment is more specific than the one described in the SMG, so be sure to follow this set of assignment guidelines when choosing and writing about your paper topic.) Essentially, with this assignment, you are shifting from the genre of autobiography (Essay #1) to the genre of biography (Essay #2). Many of the writing techniques you may choose to employ will be similar, but your skills must expand to include firsthand (field) research.
The person or activity should embody at least one of the following “criteria,” keeping in mind that these topic areas are quite broadly defined and subject to the perspective of the writer (you):
• eccentric, non-conformist, or otherwise unusual or unfamiliar in lifestyle or approach to life;
• activist or active in community or public issues; OR
• led by ideals or motivated by a personal, social, spiritual, or political cause (trying to “live out” his or
Be thoughtful and careful: the paper should focus on the person or activity you choose, neither on yourself nor the interview process itself. While writing this essay, be sure to use what you learned from the SMG while writing your first essay. This includes the invention strategies, descriptive techniques, and methods of cueing your reader, as well as the ideas of dominant impression and significance (though for this assignment, not autobiographical significance), as explained in Chapter 2. When choosing your topic, please avoid writing about something/one about which you already know a great deal, and do not choose an immediate family member, friend, or Residential Adviser for interviews or observations—you should be writing about someone unfamiliar to you. Describe the person or activity fully and vividly, and make sure that the significance and perspective of the essay is clear (but, again, avoid preaching a moral). Write about your topic so that your profile is both informative and entertaining; this is not a report, and it is not a casual story-telling activity. The paper should be engaging, not just a Q&A format like you would see in magazines. The guiding gray pages at the end of Chapter 3 will help you immensely, so I strongly recommend you follow the steps outlined there quite carefully.
Again, focus on providing careful, thoughtful, and vivid description to your reader. Make the reader understand the topic the same way you do by grabbing the reader’s attention with an interesting opening, selecting and relating important details or anecdotes, and using descriptive language, metaphors, and similes. Organize your essay in a way that is understandable to another reader and presents a focused main point. Your essay should be at least 1,750 words, which equals approximately four and a half to five double-spaced pages; it should be no longer than nine to ten pages. It must be submitted to Safe Assignments by 6pm on the 3rd to receive a grade.
GET STARTED NOW! YOU WILL NEED ALL THE TIME! Your essay is due Tuesday, November 3rd, at the beginning of class. Bring a clean copy of your final draft along with an MLA formatted works cited page (for your personal interview and/or other research), your invention work/prewriting, your interview questions, your interview notes, your observation notes, your rough drafts, and at least two full sets of written peer review comments about your draft. (Please consider also including a photocopy of a thank-you note you send to the person you interviewed/the people who helped you gather information for your essay.) Any submitted essay that does not include these will be marked down at least one letter grade per missing component on the portfolio. Everyone must have his/her paper peer-critiqued by two people, and trusted/qualified friends or family members will do the trick if you do not come to class on peer review day, Tuesday, October 27th—just choose people who are strong writers, and use the appropriate Critical Reading Guide questions from the SMG, Chapter 3. (Absences on peer review days are, however, carefully noted because attendance is taken for every class session, and you will lose participation points because you did not do a peer review for two classmates.)
The final draft must be typed and double-spaced in a standard 12-point font (such as Times New Roman or Garamond), have one-inch margins, have a revealing and unique title, and include your name, my name, the name of this course, and the date in the top left corner; in the right hand corner on every page should be your last name and the page number for the essay. Please follow the MLA style for formatting your essay as it is shown in the SMG. (For other formatting help: a sample Works Cited page can also be found there.) Any essay not meeting all of the requirements outlined on this assignment sheet may be returned to you ungraded, and your grade for the essay lowered one full letter grade for each day until it is returned to me, or it may fail.
Please drop by during my office hours, e-mail, or call me if you have any questions or need help getting started. I’m more than happy to help you brainstorm for topics or interview questions, give you feedback on your organizational plans or rough drafts, or answer any other questions about your papers or this class.