English Composition 121

Spring ’19 Blog Posts

Assignment: Writing about/around/away from Final Project Blog Posts (40% of your grade)

Details: In order to truly understand the value and possibility of research, we have to actually research! Below you’ll find seven categories of writing prompts. You are responsible for completing these seven writing prompts by the deadline listed on our syllabus. Each post must be 750 words and proofread for clarity. Each post will be worth 6 points and will be graded accordingly:

2 points- Research- Does your post show that you’ve used an outside source (even if it is an unpublished source like a memory or an observation)?

3 points- Adherence to prompt- Have you answered all of the questions in your prompt?

1 point- Thoughtfulness- Did you proofread your post? Is there a central idea? Do you have complete sentences? If you don’t have complete sentences, is it clear why?

Do note, you should always look around and see what your colleagues are posting. I find the best way to get inspiration is to read other people’s writing. Mark your enthusiasm or curiosity by commenting on your colleagues’ work. As a (cheesy) incentive, I do give extra credit for thoughtful comments.

Before posting, be sure you have selected your name as a “category.”

Category #1: Writing and Process (due: 2/4)

  • If you’re unsure of what your final writing project will be about, don’t worry you’re not alone. Sometimes, instead of forcing a project that won’t sustain your interest for an entire semester, it’s best to reflect. Craft an essay in which you reflect on three important moments in your life. Be sure to answer the following questions: Why do these moments stand out to you? What did you learn in these moments? What did you not know then that you wish you did? How have these moments changed you? What questions do you still have about what went on in these moments? How might writing help you uncover some of these answers? By the end of this piece, you should indicate whether you will be pursuing any of these questions for a writing project, and if so, what the project might look like.
  • Revisit an old essay of yours. What do you remember about the writing process? How have your ideas on writing changed since this essay? How have your ideas on the subject matter changed since this essay? What questions did you answer in this essay? What questions did you ignore? Why?
  • Write in the form of questions. That’s right. From beginning to end, write only in question format. Pick any topic you’d like, or don’t pick a topic at all.
  • Watch Hari’s Ted Talks on Addiction. Reflect on his personal relationship to his research. What questions might you have that stem from personal relationships with family and friends? How might you form a writing project around these questions? What kind of research would you need to do to answer these questions?

Category #2: Place Writing (due date: 2/20)

  • Visit the space your writing project will focus on or take place in. Take pictures of this space. Describe this space in detail. Try to use all five senses.
  • Visit another space your writing project will focus on. Take pictures of this space. Imagine another person’s experience living, working, or hiding in this space. Write an essay from their perspective that details this space.
  • Where will you write your project? On a train? In a room? In a library? In multiple places? Describe this place or places. How might being more mindful of the space you are writing in impact what you write?
  • Pick a location your project will focus on and google map it. Read the directions between where you are and where this location is. Reflect on these directions. You can reflect in whatever way you choose.

Category #3: People Writing (due date: 3/4)

  • Interview someone who is related to your writing project either literally or thematically. In other words, if you’re thinking of writing a project that focuses on literacy in the Bronx, you might interview someone who goes to school in the Bronx. If you’re working on an essay about a teenager who experiences loss, you might interview someone who has experienced loss, or you might interview a teenager. Craft a response in which you describe what you learned through this interview. You might also include a transcript of the actual interview if all parties are comfortable with this. Be sure to reflect on the experience of interviewing someone and the new ideas you were left with after the interview.
  • Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Consider a person that will be mentioned either directly or indirectly in your writing project. Write a journal entry from their perspective.
  • Read testimony from an individual involved in your writing project. Provide a link to this testimony. What answers does this testimony provide? How will this testimony help you with your writing project? What might you say in response to this individual’s testimony if you could?
  • Profile someone who is an integral part of your autoethnography. One rule—it can’t be you. Remember, a profile is different from a biography—it’s interested in investigating a person using a particular angle.


Category #4: Historical Writing (due date: 3/11)

  • Summarize a historical event that might have impacted what your writing project will discuss. This summary should not just be a repeating of facts gathered from a source; instead, you should present this event using some sort of angle. For instance, rather than give you facts about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I might focus on the political climate before and after the attacks.
  • Summarize a historical figure that is important to your writing project. Be sure to indicate what makes this figure so crucial.
  • Compose a historical overview of an idea/policy/theme related to your writing project. For instance, if I’m thinking about writing about long distance relationships, I might look at the idea of romance novels and how it has evolved over time. I might also look at the idea of long-distance relationships and how they’ve evolved over time.
  • Craft a forecast essay in which you use what you’ve learned from the past (through essays, articles, etc.) to predict what might happen in the future. Of course, it would be helpful if the idea you are reviewing is in someway related to your writing project. How finite is your forecast? Is it possible that we can do things now to change this forecast? Do we want to change this forecast? Will your writing project change this forecast?


Category #5: Math and Science Writing (due date: 3/18 )

  • Plan an experiment that will help you complete your writing project. Detail every aspect of this experiment in your post. What is the hypothesis? How will you test your hypothesis? What do you think will happen? In addition, indicate whether you plan on actually testing this experiment. If yes, you might include the results at a later date. If no, indicate what support you’d need to make this experiment happen.
  • Find a study that has already been done and reflect on its findings. How does this study connect to your writing project? What does this study not show?
  • Read several pieces related to your writing project. Report on trends you notice. What do all of these pieces discuss similarly? What is a possible point of disagreement? Where does your writing project fit into this conversation?
  • Create a survey that would help you flesh out an idea or two in your writing project. Explain in detail how the questions you propose would help you as a writer. You might also indicate what you think the survey will reveal.
  • Share the survey you created above with 15 or more people. Review the results and report on what the results indicate. Any trends? Patterns?
  • Find a statistic related to your project. What does this statistic reveal? What stories does this statistic fail to present? How will your project challenge this statistic? How will your project affirm this statistic?


Category #6: Critique (due 3/20)

There are a number of ways to perform a critique. We have discussed some of these ways briefly. For this prompt, pick any of the following “methods” of critique and use it to analyze a whole work or a policy or an institution or a news event:

  1. Feminist
  2. Post colonial
  3. Race
  4. Eco-critical
  5. Post-structural
  6. Historical

It is a good idea to find more information about the method you choose. Ask me for information if you’re confused/lost! 

Category #7: Feedback (will be completed on 4/1)

Instead of traditional class on April 1st, you will be working with a workshop partner to give and receive feedback on your second draft of the autoethnography. You may choose to do this in any of the following ways:

Traditional: Create a google doc for both of your drafts. Read through your partner’s draft and offer annotations with questions and comments. Then, craft a short and useful endnote that summarizes what the project is about, what questions you have based on what you have read, and what more writing/research the writer will have to do before submitting a final draft. Share a link to this google doc with me: dhipinderwalia@gmail.com by the end of the day on 4/1.

Experimental: Create a google doc for both of your drafts. Annotate your partner’s draft with comments that begin with, “This sentence reminds me of…” All of your annotations should be references to ideas, publications, observations, music, movies, etc. that your partner’s work reminds you of. You should provide at least 6 to 7 annotations.

Digital 1a: Publish your draft on our course blog. Have your partner provide feedback on your draft in the form of a 300-word comment. You might also use hypothes.is for annotations.

Digital 1b: Create a google doc for both of your drafts. Skype each other and talk through comments and questions you had for your partner. Record this skype session and send a copy to me by the end of 4/1. While the comments and questions don’t have to be written, I should be able to see that you’re not ‘winging’ your feedback. That means, I don’t want to hear, “It looks good….I think you need more stuff…This part should have less stuff…” Be concrete!

Informal: Plan to meet each other in person. Read each other’s draft and provide feedback in person. Send me a brief email afterwards letting me know how it went. I don’t have to know the details, but I would like to know that you met and one or two things that came up during the session.**

**In the past, I have had some students run to this option because it requires no written work. I have a feeling some of these students might’ve even sent an email saying they met when in fact they didn’t. You’re all adults. If you choose to fib about completing this task, you’re shorting yourself. Remember, I won’t be offering feedback on this draft, so this meeting with your partner is really the only time you’ll be able to get advice before submitting the final draft that will be graded.







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