The Age of Irony: Twentieth Century America

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Evergreen's approach to higher education does not separate basic skills development into separate courses like "Composition 101" or "Introduction to College Writing." Instead, any program in which you enroll may incorporate such skills development as part of an integrated curriculum. This program, The Age of Irony, includes a writing skills component in the form of a series of short essays. These essays will both help you practice your writing skills and give you a starting point for participation in seminar discussions.

In practicing written composition, it is useful to consider different "modes" of writing that are commonly found in English writing. The modes of writing you will practice in this program include: Descriptive Summary, Personal Narrative, Comparison/Contrast, and Argumentation. While, in reality, each of these modes may overlap with others, the exercise of focusing on a particular type of written expression will help you refine your writing skills by challenging you to concentrate on a particular purpose for each short essay. Details for each assignment are given below.

Each of these papers should be a minimum of 500 words in length (about 2 full pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 point font) but no more than 750 words in length. The final paper, however, will be between 750 and 1000 words in length. In Microsoft Word software, you can obtain a word count by opening the File menu, clicking on Properties, and then clicking the Statistics tab. Essays must include at least one properly cited quotation from an assigned class reading (use MLA format for citations and references). Furthermore, all papers must have a creative title (note: "Essay Assignment #1" or "Comparison Essay" aren't creative titles; try for something more imaginative and interesting).

Excellent papers will not only meet the length requirement, but will be free of grammar and spelling errors, maintain a tone appropriate to the mode of writing being practiced, and have a coherent structure that leads the reader from an engaging introduction with a clear thesis, through a focused yet well developed body, to a meaningful and interesting conclusion.

Winter SEMINAR PAPER DUE DATES (All papers are due at the beginning of class):

Monday, 24 January - Reflective Analysis/Descriptive Essay
Monday, 14 February - Critical Exposition
Wednesday, 9 March - Academic Synthesis

DUE MONDAY, 24 JAN 2011 at the beginning of class

In Changing the World, Alan Dawley presents his own historical interpretation of early twentieth century progressivism, making several arguments about how economic, ideological, and political contexts informed and shaped the strands of the progressive movement. In The Perils of Prosperity, William Leuchtenburg offers a history of the same time period, but through a different historical "lens." Make sure to re-read your seminar papers for each book, and consult your reading notes as you write the following essay:

Write a short essay that explains how reading Dawley's history informed your understanding of Leuchtenburg's history, and how reading Leuchtenburg altered or enhanced your understanding of Dawley's work. Here are some questions to help you get started: Did you find that the texts reinforced one another? Did you find the authors offering different or conflicting interpretations? Can you write a thesis statement that explains how, in your understanding, these texts relate to one another? Support your general thesis with specific, properly cited examples from each text.

Recall that these papers should be a minimum of 500 words in length (about 2 full pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 point font) but no more than 750 words in length (about 3 full pages).

NEW STUDENTS OPTION: Students new to the program have the option to either write the Reflective Analysis-or, they may opt to write a Descriptive Summary that focuses on one book only.

Descriptive writing often (but not always) adopts a more "objective" tone as the author seeks to describe, with clarity and detail, an event, object, person, set of circumstances, place, or thing. The intent of the writing is not so much to explain a process or cause-effect relationship, but rather to clearly illustrate the properties of the object under consideration. While the description may be based on the author's personal knowledge and experience, descriptive writing usually focuses more on the object than the author's personal perspective. For this assignment, the object of description will be one of the readings assigned for the class.

New students only may opt to write a short essay that summarizes/describes the key ideas presented in either Dawley's Changing the World or Leuchtenburg's The Perils of Prosperity. Find a quotation from the text that captures the essence of the author's position and preface the essay with that properly cited quote (single-spaced and indented above the body of the paper). Then elaborate on the author's writing in your essay. What does the author want you to understand? What are his principal propositions and arguments? You have a limit of only 750 words, so be concise.

DUE MONDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2011 at the beginning of class

There is a dominant historical narrative that drastically oversimplifies the causes and consequences of the civil rights movement. Several of the readings and films in this program push back against that dominant narrative and offer a more sophisticated understanding of that history.

Write a short essay that outlines the oversimplified narrative that shapes most peoples' understanding of the civil rights movement. Now, complicate that narrative and explain your new understanding of the emergence and development of the civil rights movement, its successes and failures, and how the movement fits into the broader historical contexts of the twentieth century.

Recall that these papers should be a minimum of 500 words in length (about 2 full pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 point font) but no more than 750 words in length (about 3 full pages).

DUE WEDNESDAY, 9 MARCH 2011 at the beginning of class

bell hooks, as a writer "who advocates feminism," adopts a stance that moves beyond the feminist movement and offers a broader social critique that links the struggle of women to the plight of other disempowered groups.

Write a short essay that addresses the following question: What is hooks' critique and how does it connect to the analyses of other authors in this program about feminism, progressivism and the civil rights movement? Be sure to include specific, properly cited references to at least two other texts beside hooks' own book.

Recall that these papers should be a minimum of 500 words in length (about 2 full pages, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 point font) but no more than 750 words in length (about 3 full pages).

TESC Evening & Weekend Studies Fall/Winter/Spring 2010-2011