assignment 5-1: reflective essay draft

Due: Monday, November 21 (though you can turn it in early via email if needed)

Format: Print and staple a hard copy and bring it to class.  You only need to bring one copy.

Length: As for all the essays in your final portfolio, strive for more than 3 pages. I can help you think of things to say if you are struggling.

Download possible outlines here [PDF]

Directions: Along with your two revised interpretive essays, your portfolio includes a reflective essay that rhetorically analyzes the two interpretive essays you chose. (you should not discuss any essays that are not in your final portfolio.) You can use the reflective essay for a number of purposes, but above all you should identify your own rhetorical choices (or strategies designed to affect or change readers) in both interpretive essays, and then analyze why you made those choices and how your readers might be affected. In connection, it is critical that you cite specific examples from your essays. You must quote passages from your interpretive essays in this reflective essay. Use the standard MLA citation format and include a works cited page at the end of your reflective essay. Since your final portfolios do not have your name on them anywhere, use your nine-digit student ID instead of your last name. For example:

In my essay on “The Falling Man,” I argue that Junod uses contradiction to strike the reader’s interest and also “out of respect, to avoid giving his conclusion total closure just like the families of the unidentified dead do not have closure,” as I write in my paper (991094454 3).

The “991094454” is your student ID and the “3” is the page number.

Your works cited page for the reflective essay will include citations for your own interpretive papers since that is where you are getting quotes. Your reflective essay works cited entries should look something like this, where you would fill in your own student ID and essay title:

991094450. “Your Reflective Essay Title.” University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Fall 2011. Print.

Keep in mind that this essay might help readers evaluate your portfolio. If you referenced personal experience (or if you made some other choice that seems creative, experimental, or original in some way), now is your chance to reflect on your decision and explain it to outside readers. It also a chance to direct readers’ attention to what you have done best, as well as explain weaknesses in your pieces and constraints that you faced in writing, demonstrating an awareness of your progress in the course. Throughout the reflective essay, use quotes and paraphrases to point to interpretive moments; then explain how or why you shaped those moments for your readers and how those interpretive moments caused readers to relate to you as a writer.

In this essay, you should discuss:

  • decisions you made in forming/writing your interpretations, and rationale for these decisions
    • look back at the statement of purpose you wrote for Kalman in and Neufeld (and maybe you wrote one in your notes for Junod). Given these purposes you laid out for yourself, what choices did you make in your papers? How did that understanding of your purpose and audience lead you to make specific rhetorical moves in your interpretive papers?
    • If you can discuss the purpose and thesis statement you laid out for yourself in the interpretive essays, and then if you can explain your writing choices based on that purpose and thesis, you will be on the right track with this reflective essay.
  • specific places in your interpretive papers where you are meeting the interpretive essay goals
    • Do you give summary to help readers understand what you’re talking about in your interpretations? Do you discuss problems or issues that motivated Kalman, Neufeld, or Junod to write? These are examples of how you would be meeting two of the interpretive essay goals. In your reflective essay, you would cite specific examples to demonstrate your awareness of the goals.
  • important revisions you made in the process of writing a critical interpretation
    • It would be appropriate to cite an original passage in an interpretive essay and then cite your revision of that passage, explaining how and why you made those revisions (based on your purpose and audience).
  • what individuals or groups of people might be positively affected by your writing
    • If you include Kalman in your final portfolio, would your readers learn about better nutrition from your essay? Would they feel a relationship with you through your apparent concern for child health, environment-friendly food, or whatever you focused on in your interpretation? If you include Neufeld, what would your readers learn about comics, Hurricane Katrina, or human suffering? How did you relate to those readers positively and productively?
    • Your interpretive essays are out in the world, even though only a few people have read them. How have your essays helped your classmates? How could your essays change your readers? Lastly, how could your essays make a productive, ethical impact on a wider audience outside of the writing program?

In addition to the above, you may choose to discuss:

  • challenges you faced with specific parts of the interpretive essay assignments
  • what you learned from the authors you read
  • how you look at writing differently than when the semester began
  • how your writing or writing process has changed

You should avoid comments like:

  • “I learned a lot this semester.”
  • “My teacher was so great” or “My teacher was horrible because…”
  • “Thank heavens this class is over.”
  • “Please pass my portfolio so I don’t have to take this class again.”
  • “I hope you were impressed with my essays. I worked so hard on them.”
  • “As you can see, my portfolio has improved a lot.”
  • “Clearly, I am ready for English 102.”
  • This is an essay about you and your writing. Do not interpret or extensively summarize Kalman, Neufeld, or Junod in your reflective essay.

Given the number of possible items you could address, it’s important to begin with an outline and a clear thesis statement in your reflective essay so that your writing does not sound like a long list of points in paragraph form.

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