Essay 4: Final Essay: Critical Response
A research-based essay that describes the debate surrounding a current and debatable issue.
[Download Essay 4 handout (PDF)]
- Due Date 1: 2 printed copies for draft workshop (Check calendar for date of draft workshop 1). Also, upload workshop draft to Blackboard.
- Due Date 2: 2 printed copies for draft workshop 2 (Check calendar for date of draft workshop). Also, upload workshop draft to Blackboard.
- Due Date 3: Revised draft to be graded, uploaded to Blackboard (Check calendar for due date)
- Length: 1,500 to 2,100 words (not including Works Cited page)
- Research: At least 5 credible, recent sources found through the USC Upstate Library
- Format: Use MLA Style for parenthetical citations and for Works Cited page
- Essay 4 handout: Download Essay 4 handout (PDF)
- Draft Workshop Worksheet: Download draft worksheet (PDF)
Your final and most important writing assignment in this class requires you to describe a current and debatable issue or topic and at least three competing viewpoints regarding it, then support the position you find most reasonable. You will first choose a somewhat general topic, then a specific debatable issue that interests you and that you will research carefully. Your goal is to be able to describe fairly and reasonably at least three positions on that issue and their justification.
You will complete the following steps for this assignment. Failing to complete any of these steps will have a negative affect on your grade:
- Emailing me at least 3 topic ideas
- Writing and peer reviewing a topic proposal on one approved (by me) topic
- Meeting in a one-on-one conference with me
- Writing and peer reviewing an annotated bibliography
- Participating in draft workshops
- Revising your essay in response to draft workshop feedback
The final paper in English 101 will allow you to demonstrate all that you have learned in this course this semester, including the following:
- Using a multi-stage approach to writing: brainstorming, drafting, revising, and editing;
- Critical reading: understanding texts but also being attuned to how the author shapes his or her ideas;
- Successfully quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing texts as appropriate;
- Locating and assessing relevant, credible sources;
- Generating and supporting your own ideas regarding a topic while also incorporating source material found through research.
- Using current MLA format appropriately.
Finding a Topic Worth Doing
What not to do
- Do not pick a topic just because you already know what you think about it.
- Do not pick a topic because you wrote an essay about it in high school.
- Do not pick a topic because you think it will be easy to write about; the “easiest” topics are actually those that you genuinely want to know more about and will enjoy researching and studying for a few weeks.
- You should avoid picking a topic that is no longer currently in the news but that is an example of a stereotypical “research paper topic”; and do not pick a topic that is so broad that you’re unlikely find much new information about it:
- Examples of these kinds of topics include (but are not limited to) gun control, abortion, legalizing drugs, changing the drinking age, teaching evolution in schools, global warming, and same-sex marriage.
What to do
- Consider the things that you are most interested in and about which you would like to become an expert;
- Consider topics that are related to your major (if you have already declared one);
- Consider topics that are related to what you want to do for a living;
- Consider topics related to your hobbies.
These topics are a bad idea
- Abstinence programs
- Animal rights / animal testing
- Arctic and Antarctic ice loss
- Athletes on strike
- Birth control
- Climate change / Global warming
- Concussions in sports
- Drinking age
- Driving age
- Eating disorders
- Euthanasia (Mercy killing)
- Fraternities / Sororities
- Gun control
- Immigration laws in the U.S.
- Legalizing marijuana / other drugs
- No Child Left Behind act
- Organic foods
- Paying college athletes
- Same-sex marriage
- Sex education
- School uniforms
- Speed limit
- Stem cell research
- Steroids / P.E.D.s in sports
- Tort reform / Medical malpractice
- Vaccinating children
- Voter fraud
- Voter ID laws
- Voting age
- War on drugs
- War in Iraq
- War in Afghanistan