Contemporary American Essay Midterm Paper

Wed. March 6:
Draft of paper due. At least three full pages. Paper must be brought to class printed out, typed, and in prose form. Peer review in class.
Mon. March 11: Peer reviews continued. Individual reviews with instructor. You are welcome to use electronic devices today (laptops etc.) to work on your paper.
Wed. March 13: Final version of paper is due at class time. Paper must be printed, stapled and turned in during class. It must also be uploaded to Blackboard. You will deliver 3-5 minute presentations of paper in class.


Peer review happens in class on the scheduled day (Wed. March 1) and receives “all- or-nothing” credit. To earn credit, you must be present, bring a typed copy of your draft of at least three full pages, and participate in the directed review process. You will be asked to make substantive written and verbal comments on at least one other person’s draft. Electronic drafts will not be accepted. You must print out your paper.


You may use notes. Do not read your entire paper aloud. You will be cut off at 5 minutes. Introduce your argument to the class. Reflect on your writing process. Identify questions your paper raises for further consideration. Present yourself and your ideas clearly with attention to volume, tone and language.

15 percent of final grade Presentation: 5 percent of final grade Peer Review: 5 percent of final grade


Select one of the pieces from the list below. Write an essay that considers your selected piece in light of the critical ideas on essays presented in “Toward a Collective Poetics of the Essay” by Carl H. Klaus. Present an argumentative thesis statement that agrees, disagrees or both with the ideas presented by Klaus, as it applies to your chosen piece. Your thesis should be presented early in the paper and be clearly identifiable. The body of your essay should support the thesis by presenting evidence from both the Klaus and your selected piece. Your essay should feature a conclusion that in some way reflects upon your argument or frames questions for further consideration.

Formal, MLA style is required. Your paper should be double-spaced in 12-point font. It should include a heading, page numbers, a Works Cited page, and in-text citations. Your ideas should be developed to a minimum of 4 full pages, and a maximum of 6 full pages.

Your grade will be based on your ability to work within these parameters to achieve the aim of the assignment, and your clarity, originality and depth of thinking.

List of essays to choose from

“Loggerheads” by David Sedaris
Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg (excerpts) “Why I Write” by Joan Didion
“The Theory and Practice of Postmodernism: A Manifesto” by David Antin “Life Story” by David Shields
The Address Book by Sophie Calle

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