Engl 121: Composition I
Essay #2: Analyzing Concepts
The scope of this formal essay is to be an analysis of one of the topics listed. Review pages 139-51 in
your book on analyzing concepts, and think about your ethnographic observations up until this point, in
relationship to location, people, or animals. Your paper should demonstrate that you comprehend the
material and are able to make a connection to an idea or perspective that is significant in some way.
Provide textual support for your ideas by citing quotes from the text as well as outside sources.
Select a topic below from one of your interests moving toward explaining your ideas with clarity,
conciseness, and vigor, while analyzing and making connections through evidence of the text and external
source material. Your essay should show a strong thesis (i.e., one controlling idea that interprets the
significance of the subject-why this matters?), demonstrate clear organization, and provide specific details
as discussed in class.
The paper is to be 1000-1200 words in length, double-spaced using 12-point font. Include the word
count at the bottom of your paper before the Works Cited page. You are to use TWO outside sources
(e.g., a related article, an essay) to support your thesis; ONE must come from the LCC Library
database for support of your thesis. Cite using the current MLA documentation for both in-text
citations and your Works Cited page.
Three copies of your drafts are due in class on *Wed., Oct. 23. Final papers and peer-review
worksheets are due at the beginning of class on *Mon., Oct. 28. * Note these dates are a change from
the Reading Schedule. Please refer to the syllabus for late paper grade reductions.
Reference the author’s name and full title in your introduction. Provide a brief background on the essay
for your audience. You should refer back to the reading in the body and conclusion as well, threading the
essay to your main thesis.
Each paragraph should have a topic sentence with supporting points. Proofread for mechanics (e.g.,
grammar, punctuation, and spelling). Take the time to proofread and check paper formatting carefully.
Give yourself plenty of time so that you are not printing at the last minute and incur technical difficulties.
Feel free to visit the Writing Studio in the Learning Commons for writing assistance.
Please see me if you would like guidance in focusing your paper.
Possible essay topics:
1. Consider a particular rural or frontier landscape in the U.S. How has it changed from the late 19 th
to the early 21 st century? In John Steinbeck’s “Americans and the Land”, how does he
characterize human disconnectedness with the land? How does human interference today affect
wildlife, agriculture, resources, or our national or state parks? Narrow your focus to one specific
area and a singular issue.
2. In Chester McCovey’s essay “The Front Porch”, he examines our relationship with a local
community. How does the machine (e.g., the auto, television, internet, air conditioning)
contribute to a shift in socialization? The porch is symbolic of a connection with our neighbors.
How has this changed? Examine the changes in civility among people that come from a “[loss in]
the front porch culture.”
3. In a predominately consumer culture, advertising “creates an allure” for goods or services which
masks as needs in Elizabeth Thoman’s “Rise of the Image Culture: Re-Imaging the American
Dream”. Select one very specific aspect of the advertising image and analyze its impact on the
individual. What kinds of ads are geared toward the youth culture, for example? How might they
contribute to having to buy into the latest trend, affect body image, or encourage excess
spending? Contribute a visual image to the paper as a supplement to the narrative.
4. From your text (pp. 208-211), examine the intricacies of an image in terms of composition, angle,
texture …and analyze (break apart, critique carefully, consider in new ways) one significant idea
that the visual image is conveying. What larger implications does this image convey (review the
section on Reflection pg. 220 for guidance)? Please note you are doing more than just describing.
Use the image to suggest a position of an idea much like we analyzed in class. This may be a
useful topic to tie into Jim Crockett’s “Mugged” or Ann Marie Paulin’s “Cruelty, Civility, and
Other Weighty Matters” or another essay related to location, people, or animals. Be sure you are
not writing a personal narrative, but raising an issue between the photo, painting, or other visual
object and the viewer, attempting them to see the image in a new light.
5. Consider the “anthropomorphic” theme in April Pedersen’s “The Dog Delusion.” Examine the
sensory abilities of any one type of domestic animal in particular and thread to Pedersen’s essay.
You may agree or disagree with her premise and, in doing so, advance your specific analysis of a
domestic animal and the issue of anthropomorphism.
6. Based on Annie Dillard’s “Living like Weasels”, the author suggests how being an ethnographer
of the wild animal world, we may learn to live differently. In a thoughtful, yet specific essay,
consider a particular undomesticated species—it’s behavior, intelligence, adaptive abilities and so
on, and how we may begin to “see” them differently. How does knowing this animal, intricately,
propel us to live in new ways, and for what purpose? Ensure you carefully explain what you
mean by “different”. Give the reader minute details in your analysis.
7. Develop your own original topic and thesis. In your ethnographic observations of a location, an
animal, or persons, you may develop a very specific thesis around an issue. Ensure you make a
connection of your topic to one of the essays read in class to substantiate your position. Please
see me by Mon., Oct 14 for instructor approval.