Insecurity

For your final major writing project of the semester, you will produce a 2 page essay that explores the history, usage, and meaning of a word of your choice, using both outside sources and a personal anecdote, in order to argue for a complex definition and interpretation of the word’s meaning that exceeds what we could find in a dictionary.

Your essay should contain the following components (when I assess your essay, these are the criteria by which I will evaluate it):

a stylized introduction that employs distinctive netting sentences to introduce your word and your initial ideas about it;
a variety of concrete, specific, evocative examples that help to illuminate various facets of your word’s usage and meaning—you are free to draw on your own ideas and associations, the way your family and friends use the word, examples that you’ve heard in popular culture or on the news, etc.;
an account of the word’s origin, history, and/or definition by citing the Oxford English Dictionary;
two quotation sandwiches that provide examples of your word in use in two different written texts (you are welcome to introduce non-written sources as well, but these two sources and quotations are required), with a detailed and persuasive analysis of how the writer uses the word;
a specific, focused anecdote that provides strong detailing and interpretation to illuminate some aspect of your word’s meaning;
a conclusion that synthesizes the ideas you’ve developed throughout the essay to present your final definition of and argument about the word’s larger meaning and significance (note: as we’ve discussed in class, this should not simply repeat the definition you find in the dictionary or in one of your sources—it should be complex, nuanced, and show us something new and interesting about the word);
a logically-structured discussion that shows the development of your argument from beginning to end, using its organization to make clear the relationship between ideas and to build toward and support your conclusion (note: while your introduction and conclusion obviously have to come at the beginning and end of the essay, you are welcome to present the other required components—OED information, quotation sandwiches, anecdote, and other examples—in any order you please; it’s up to you to determine the most effective organization for your essay’s ideas and argument);
an attention to style, grammar, and editing, showing appropriate usage of style techniques we have practiced this semester (such as hieroglyphics);
a Works Cited page formatted in accordance with MLA guidelines.

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