Don’t lose points for simply NOT FOLLOWING the Instructions. My Essay Requirements are somewhat different from those used and accepted by other instructors.
You should use these general instructions for all essays submitted to the Dropbox as well as the test essays which will be typed in Quiz box that is provided.
Definition of an Essay for this Course: Frederick Crews, professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley, defines an essay as “a fairly brief piece of nonfiction that tries to make a point in an interesting way.”
An essay is nonfiction. An essay is fairly brief. While writers will sometimes refer to the articles you will read for this course as “essays,” the term usually refers to short pieces that might be published in a magazine or newspaper. In this course, all essays submitted whether they be analytical or for the 4 tests should be standard 5-paragraph essays. Every paragraph should have a strong topic sentence.
An essay tries to make an argument or major point. This is perhaps the most important and most challenging aspect of the essay. An essay is not just a bunch of words or even a bunch of paragraphs. An essay all fits together; it all points in one direction. An essay leads to one conclusion. This is what makes an essay different from, say, an article in an encyclopedia, which may be a relatively brief and interesting piece of nonfiction. An essay tries to make a point. It aims to support a single claim. Another way of putting it would be to say that an essay doesn’t just have a topic; it also has a thesis. An essay doesn’t just give information about a subject; it supports a statement, a claim.
An essay tries to make a point in an interesting way. That means catching and keeping the reader’s interest.
Every essay submitted for this class must be a minimum of 4-5 paragraphs between 600 and 1000 words in length, each of which begins with a topic sentence.
All papers for this class must be typed in 11 or 12 point font and double-spaced.
Your name should be in the upper left-hand corner. Below it should be the name of your class. Below that should be the date.
All papers for this class must be submitted to the appropriate Dropbox found under the “Evaluation” dropdown menu on the course website. I will not accept any essays emailed to me or presented in person. For those who do not get a paper submitted prior to the assignment’s closing, there is a “Late Box” to which all late submissions should be submitted. The point deduction for late assignments is listed in your course syllabus.
Use your best, formal writing style – no slang or profanity, please. Do not use cell phone spelling. Use proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Proofread your essay before submitting it.
Keep in mind that you are in a college class and should write like a college student. Avoid immature phrases and statements such as “The article that I am going to write about is…” You don’t need to tell the reader what you are getting ready to tell the reader.
Avoid beginning paragraphs with words like “Secondly,” Thirdly,” “In conclusion,” etc. Do not end your paper with “In conclusion”
These things are understood and it not needed.
All of the content of each paragraph should be related to that paragraph’s topic sentence.
Avoid Platitudes. “Andrew Jackson was the greatest President of all time.” “Andrew Jackson was the worst President of all times. “Tennessee is the greatest state.” “This was such a wonderful event.”
Use past tense consistently. Do not jump back and forth between the present and past tense. When in doubt, use the past tense. For example, “James Robertson came to the Cumberland region in 1779” rather than “James Robertson comes to the Cumberland region in 1779.” “Walter Durham argued that many of the legends about Thomas Spencer were actually based on facts”, not “Walter Durham argues that many of the legends about Spencer were based on facts.”
NO quotations – Do NOT use quotations.
Avoid using quotations in papers no longer than the essays required for this class. Say things in your own words rather than using quotations.
Avoid modal verbs, such as would, could, etc. Instead of “Andrew Jackson would go on to become President four years later.” Write: “Andrew Jackson went on to become President four years later.”
Do not use 1st or 2nd person. Write exclusively in the third person. Since you are the author of the essay, it is understood that the material in it is yours. You don’t need to address the reader – don’t use “You”
Avoid superlatives – words like: best, worst, etc.
Proofread your paper before submitting it.
Documentation in the rare occasions that you may use outside sources, other than the readings assigned for this class. All citations should be in the form of footnotes or endnotes. This style of documentation is known as the Chicago Style. I do not accept MLA citations inside the paper that are enclosed in the narrative in parentheses
Is your last name, first name in the upper left-hand corner of your paper along with Essay #? If not, fix it.
Did your paper open with an interesting statement – a grabber? If not, fix it.
Does your introductory paragraph include 2-3 sentences of background information to put the topic of the article into context and to set the stage for the author’s central argument? If not, fix it.
Have you clearly identified the author’s thesis (main point, argument) in your introductory paragraph? If not, fix it.
Does your introduction include the full name of the author and the complete title of the article? If not, fix it. (Note, a citation is not necessary since all of these articles are from the TN Historical Quarterly.
Have you thoroughly identified the author’s main points of evidence that back up his/her thesis in the body (a minimum of 3 paragraphs)of your essay? If not, fix it. OR, have you simply “cherry-picked’ information here and there? If you HAVE” cherry-picked” much of your paper, go back, re-read the article, and then re-write your essay.
Did you write about the ENTIRE ARTICLE or merely the first 2-3 pages and the last page?
In your conclusion, have you gone back to the author’s thesis and determined whether he/she successfully proved that thesis in comparison with the other content for this course? If not, fix it.
Does every one of your paragraphs begin with a clear topic sentence? If not, fix it.
Have you used past tense consistently and throughout the paper rather than present tense? If not, fix it.
Have you used 1st or 2nd person (example: “I think…” or “You see….” anywhere in your paper? if so re-phrase those sentences so that they are all in 3rd person. You are the author of your paper and it is understood that these are your ideas about the article.
Have you avoided quotations from the article? If not, fix it.
Have you checked your spelling and punctuation? If not, do it BEFORE submitting your paper. Always proofread your work before turning it in.
Have you used platitudes in your essay, such as “This is the greatest article….” or “He is a wonderful….” Platitudes distract readers from the actual content of the paper.
Have you saved your file correctly with your last name first, followed by “Essay 1”, and as a .doc, a .docx, a .txt, or a .rtf file? If not, save it on your computer as instructed before placing your final copy in the dropbox.
Check the word count of your essay. Is your essay between 500 & 1000 words in length?
Is there anything on this list that you do not understand? If so, please contact your instructor.
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