Descriptive essays helps students to give an account of an object, a place, an event, emotion, or an experience. For your first description essay, you will write a 5-7 page paper on one of the following topics, or you may elect to design your own. If you choose to design your own topic, you must consult with me before proceeding. All essays must be argumentative; in your essay, you should develop a specific thesis.

Potential Descriptive Essay Topics:

1) Pick a story in either the local or the national news (i.e., a report on a crime, a discussion of a political debate, a celebrity scandal, etc). How are the interlocking categories of gender, class, race, ability, etc., treated in that story? How do various forms of privilege become evident in that story?

If you choose to work on this topic, please attach to your essay either a copy of the story or a link to a website where the story may be found. Note that if you choose a political debate, your job is not to take a side; rather, you should examine the ways in which gender, class, etc. are depicted in that debate. Also consider descriptive essay about a person or a narrative description.

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2) Pick one or two advertisements (on television, online, in a magazine or newspaper, etc) and discuss the ways in which the interlocking categories of gender, class, race, ability, etc., are treated. What assumptions do the advertisements make about men and women, about social class, etc? If you choose to work on this topic, please attach to your essay either a copy of the advertisement(s) or a link to a website (i.e. youtube) where they may be found. Consider other descriptive essays examples as well.

3) Visit a store with a broad selection of children’s toys (a toy store, a general store like Walmart, etc). Describe what you find. What are the differences between toys marketed to girls and toys marketed to boys? How is gender expression constructed? What forms of privilege/disenfranchisement are evident in the selection? Write an appealing descriptive essay example about a place if you choose this dimension.

The Ground Rules/ Descriptive Essay Format

1) Your papers must be double-spaced, have standard (1 or 1.25 inch) margins, and use Times New Roman 12-point font. Do not leave spaces between paragraphs.

2) Number your pages.

3) Creatively title your essay writer. \”Paper #1\” is not a sufficient title.

4) You must cite your sources using MLA or Chicago-style citations. Avoid the dangers of plagiarism- ALWAYS cite your sources.

5) Please send all work in .doc or .docx format. I will not read pdfs, pages files, or googledocs.

6) I will always confirm receipt of your work. If you do not receive a confirmation email from me within 12 hours, I have not received your work.

Paper Writing Guidelines:

1) Avoid the passive voice. You may only use the verb “to be” (is, are, was, were, be, being) once per paragraph.

2) Always use the present tense.

3) Do not use the first person (“I,” “my,” “we,” “our”).

4) Never begin a clause with “this is,” “it is,” “there is.” If you have to say “it is obvious that…” it probably isn’t obvious at all. Every time you use the word “this,” make sure you haven’t created an unclear pronoun reference.

5) Do not refer to “the reader” or “the reader’s” reaction. Focus only on your text(s).

6) Don’t comment on diction or word choice or rhyme scheme unless you have something relevant to say.

7) You MUST use quotations to support your points. Additionally, you MUST introduce and explain your quotations. Explain to your reader WHY you have chosen to quote a certain section of text.

8) A paragraph should never consist of only one sentence, or even two. Four is a bare minimum.

9) Do not begin your paper with a statement about “life, the universe and everything” (i.e., “The role of women has changed over the past 400 years.”) Jump right into your thesis. In fact, never make a statement about “life, the universe and everything.” Every sentence you write should be relevant to your argument and generalizations are rarely relevant.

10) Analysis is not about whether you agree or disagree. When you construct your thesis, do not try to prove whether a text is good or bad. If you think the text is not successful, you must explain why it fails on the levels of plot, style and/ or structure. Do not discuss your emotional reaction to the text.

11) Look at your introductory paragraph as an outline for what you intend to say in the paper. You should not surprise your reader halfway through with unexpected ideas.

12) Avoid plot summary.

13) You must differentiate between observation and argument. Remember, you should always ask yourself, “why should my reader care about what I’m saying?” In essence, all papers need to pass the “so what?” test.

14) Do not make historical generalizations unless you’ve done the research to back them up. Instead of discussing “the role of women in history,” discuss the role of women as established by a particular text.

15) Underline or italicize the titles of books. Italicize paintings. Put quotation marks around short stories and poem titles.

16) Read every sentence aloud to yourself. If you find a sentence difficult to read, rewrite it immediately.