idea driven paper

Write a 6 – 7 page essays (typed, double-spaced, normal font and margins) in which you address one of the suggested topics below. You can also write about another topic of your choosing. If you wish to write about a book other than those assigned in the class, that is probably fine, too, but please check with me first. Please feel free to come talk to me about your essays. Pay careful attention to the writing suggestions below. A hard paper-copy of essay #1 is due at the beginning of class on May 31.


Papers should be “idea-driven,” not just a summary of the plot. You’re making your own argument about the material/subject at hand.


Papers will be graded for organization and quality of writing, as well as content. Your argument must be convincing and coherent. Be as concise and precise as possible.


Thomas Jefferson once said we must “follow truth wherever it may lead.” Jefferson’s dictum is not, however, an invitation to stray far from the themes of the course.  Remember that you are writing an essay for a course in politics and literature.  Situate your discussion and analysis within this framework.


Your first paragraph should state clearly the question or problem your essay explores, and should at least hint at the conclusion you reach. A crisp thesis statement is desirable. Good introductions may also employ a zinger quote, a provocative observation, a series of rhetorical questions, or a shocking statistic.   The important thing is immediately to engage the reader’s interest.


Explain and analyze. There is room for opinion and speculation in your paper, but do not confuse it with evidence or argument.  Stay focused.  Don’t meander into some historical or theoretical backwater irrelevant to your argument.


Good writing helps you express your ideas and advance your argument. Use interesting, precise, active verbs.  Avoid the verb “to be.”  Give your essay a good title. Use subheadings in the text as “signposts” for the reader.


Stay close to the texts. Provide citations for all quoted and paraphrased material. You may use any standard citation form, either formal footnotes or endnotes or parenthetical cites and a “references cited” page. All I ask is that you be consistent in the style you adopt.


Proofread, proofread, proofread!!! Use spell-czech. Go to the Writing Center!


Don’t write your paper the night before it is due. Papers thrown together at the last minute are easy to identify and will get the grade they deserve.

Essay topic!



No one is born a terrorist. How do extremist ideas become lodged in Ayub’s thought as he becomes increasingly isolated and ineffectual as a non-violent legal activist? Compare Ayub’s development to that of Shockie, Malik, or Mansoor. Discuss.


Skills: Ghostwriting

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