English 106 – Spring 2016
Essay 3 – Writing through a Lens
Readings: Bill McKibben from Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet and from Elizabeth Kolbert The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
This essay should be 4-5 pages in MLA format. Please be aware of correct MLA format for all of your research and citations. Peer review 4/18 and 20, final draft to hand in 4/22.
Assignment: Using the information from one of the two readings for this section of the class, examine and analyze an energy policy or environmental policy (per our work in class). This is an interesting way to look at this issue. McKibben and Kolbert take very strong positions, and McKibben offers some dire warnings. Analyze this information and “apply” it to a policy that you can find on many different online sources. Remember, however, that the policy has to be a written tangible text. Almost all elected officials, governing bodies, corporations, universities, and/or policy makers have websites where they state positions on these issues. It is important to remember that you are not looking for exact matches in the ideas. You are looking at the way the writer’s (McKibben or Kolbert) ideas are different as well as the same as the policy. There will be areas where both happen. This is the beginning of what we might call “putting the texts in conversation with each other” or intertextuality. While the authors are not addressing each other, scholars often attempt to make them speak to each other. This involves reaching some understanding of what is implicit and explicit in the texts; in other words, you have to be analytical of all the texts used in this essay. The most challenging part of writing this paper will probably be avoiding the compare/contrast approach; your analysis should go considerably further than that.
From Rosenwasser & Stephen Writing Analytically: When using a reading as a lens for better seeing what is going on in something you are studying, assume that the match between the lens and your subject will never be exact. It is often in the area where things don’t match up exactly that you will find your best opportunity for having ideas. Here are two guidelines for applying lens A (McKibben/Kolbert) to subject B (policy).
- Think about how lens A both fits and does not fit subject B: avoid the matching-exercise mentality.
- Actively seek out the differences between lens A and subject B: use these differences to probe both A and B (Yes, but . . .).
Here are some tips: To prepare for the writing of this essay, you might first identify one important point in one of the writer’s essays and the evidence she/he uses to develop that position. You cannot cover all of the reading; instead, create a focus on an idea that seems most relevant and of interest to you. Examine and analyze the policy in the same way. Look for the ways that idea of McKibben or Kolbert work both with and against the policy.
When you begin to write, the first part of the essay might name McKibben or Kolbert, her/his text, and the main idea. This could be followed by a brief but focused summary. In the same paragraph or a following paragraph, you might do the same with the policy. Introduce it; explain whose policy, give a very brief summary without going into the details. The body of the essay then “reads” the details of the policy through the lens of this main idea and “the components” of the idea that you have established.