Essay 1: Formal Draft

Objective: to produce a revised formal draft of your first essay. To produce your formal draft, you will extensively revise and develop your zero draft using ideas from class and suggestions provided in my feedback on your Zero Draft. Please carefully read and follow this assignment. Do each task in order.

Estimated time: 2-3 hours
Due: Monday, February 24th at the beginning of class (printed copy)


  1. Review the guidelines for the Rhetorical Analysis Essay.
  2. Read the Model Essay. This model essay will help you understand the expectations and structure of the assignment, along with the appropriate tone and style.
  3. Review these writing guides we have used so far this semester, paying close attention to the Rhetorical Situation, Argumentation, and Effective Conclusions.
  4. Review your notes and annotations on “The Question of Cultural Identity.”


  1. Revise and expand your analysis in the paragraphs in which you analyze Hall’s three identity subjects and the three writing or rhetorical patterns (one paragraph for each pattern). For each pattern, you must analyze two specific examples following the guidelines for rhetorical analysis we discussed in class. Use MLA style to correctly cite the page where your examples are located.
  2. Revise your summary of “The Question of Cultural Identity.” Ensure that you define what Hall means by the term “crisis of identity,” along with his stance on the topic.
  3. Add headings prior to each paragraph to help organize and structure your essay. See the Model Essay.
  4. Write a one-paragraph introduction that briefly identifies the problems that freshmen readers (i.e. the imagined audience for your essay) likely encounter when first reading the rhetorical essay “The Question of Cultural Identity.” Explain to your freshman audience why analyzing writing or rhetorical patterns is a logical way to understand the essay. End this first paragraph with your thesis, which should explain Hall’s stance toward the “crisis of identity.”
  5. Write a conclusion to answer the “So, what?” question. Synthesize the ideas you discuss in your essay to encourage your freshmen readers to look for rhetorical patterns and writerly choices when reading theoretical texts.
  6. Create a compelling two-line title for your formal draft, one that would intrigue and inform your intended audience of student readers.
  7. Include a Work Cited list on a separate page using MLA style. Refer to the Model essay and the MLA Sample Paper.
  8. Include a one-paragraph self-evaluation on a separate page in which you briefly discuss to what extent you think your intended audience (freshmen readers) would find your essay clear and insightful. Also, explain what else you will still like to work on as you continue to revise your draft. The self-evaluation is part of the assignment. 

Bring the printout with you to class with you on Monday, February 24th for Peer Review and submit electronically to Dropbox as a Word or PDF file using the naming conventions outlined in the syllabus.

As always, contact me if you have any questions.

Essay 1: Zero Draft

Great start on your summaries!

Objective: The goal of this exercise is to produce a very rough draft (a “zero draft”) of your first essay. This will help you find raw material (i.e. potential evidence and rough ideas) that can be refined and further developed in your formal draft.
Estimated time: 2-3 hours

Due at 11:59 p.m., February 12th (electronic submission)

  1. Review the guidelines for the Rhetorical Analysis Essay and the guidelines for essay submissions in the course syllabus.
  2. Include your revised one-paragraph summary of “The Question of Cultural Identity” (Exercise 1.3). Ensure that you include Hall’s thesis.

Note: This part of the draft should be very rough and messy. (If this is polished and free of grammatical errors, it means you did not follow my instructions.) You should explore potential paths of inquiry without necessarily knowing whether or not they will lead to fruitful conclusions. The point of this part is to think your ideas through, to explore your thoughts on paper. Do not “go back” to fix spelling or grammar errors, or to revise or change ideas; keep going forward! Allow your messy, nascent thoughts (and questions) to unfold and develop on the page. If you have a non-English first language, incorporate words and phrases from your first language as much as you want.

  1. Refine and revise your summary of Hall’s essay. (1 paragraph)
  2. In no more than two paragraphs, critically analyze how Hall’s three cultural identity subjects provide a framework for his analysis in “The Question of Cultural Identity.” Identify how you think they provide important clues to better understanding Hall’s argument about the “crisis of identity.” Be sure that you quote Hall to provide his definition of each of the three identity subjects that he includes in Section 1 and make connections to other sections in the essay and to include page citations for the quotes. (1 or 2 paragraphs)
  3. Select three of the rhetorical patterns we identified in class. For each of the rhetorical patterns you identify, write a paragraph in which you critically analyze  how identifying and understanding those patterns makes the essay easier to understand for a freshman reader. Be sure to include examples from the text in the form of quotes and include page citations for the quotes. (3 paragraphs)
  4. End your zero draft with one paragraph in which you attempt to state your hypothesis or tentative thesis. In other words, how would you describe Hall’s development of the concept of the “crisis of identity”?
  5. Include a one-paragraph self-evaluation on a separate page in which you briefly explain what challenges you are encountering as you attempt to develop a thesis, and how your understanding of Hall’s essay has been deepened and/or been complicated since the first time you read it.
  6. Format your paper according to MLA style. An MLA Sample Paper is available at this link to Purdue OWL.
  7. Name your final draft file according to the guidelines in the syllabus and using the following protocol:
    [Student Last Name][First Initial]_E1_ZeroDraft
    For example, a student named Frida Kahlo, would name her file:
  8. Submit your essay as a Word document or PDF (no Google docs or Pages files) to Dropbox by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, February 12th.

Please email me with any questions.

Exercise 1.3

Objective: to summarize “The Question of Cultural Identity” for a reader who has not read the essay.
Estimated time: 1 hour

Due: Wednesday, February 5th at 9:00 a.m.

Part 1—Reading and Annotation

  1. Carefully read the Citing Sources writing guide. You might also skim read / refer to Chapter 2 of They Say, I Say, especially pages 39-40, for some tips and keywords.
  2. Carefully read and annotate Sections 5 and 6 in “The Question of Cultural Identity.” Write down ideas and questions that you have in response to specific parts of these sections. As you did for Exercise 1.2, use the connections you noted when you were reading Sections 5 and 6 to identify how Hall continues to develop the concepts explored in previous sections. What elements of the rhetorical situation of the text can you identify? How do those function to help Hall develop his analysis?
  3. Read the sample summary below.

Part 2—Writing

Draft a one-paragraph summary of “The Question of Cultural Identity” following the above guidelines. Imagine that you want another student who has not read the essay to understand it. Post as a comment below and bring a printed copy of your typed summary to class with you on Wednesday.

An effective summary helps an unfamiliar reader to accurately understand the main ideas of a piece of writing. Typically, an effective summary includes:

  1. the author’s full name.
  2. the name of the text.
  3. a description of the author’s analytical project (useful verbs: explores, examines, analyzes, investigates; NOT: says, writes, is about, looks into).
  4. one or two quotes of the author’s main point (useful verbs: argues, asserts, states, proposes, hypothesizes, claims).
  5. a paraphrase/explanation/example of the author’s main point (useful phrases: for example, for instance, in other words).
  6. a brief description of how the author supports his/her main idea in the text.

Here’s an example of a summary of a 25-page essay called “The Trouble with Wilderness”:
In his essay “The Trouble with Wilderness,” William Cronon, Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, asks his readers to “rethink wilderness” (83). He criticizes mainstream environmentalism’s portrayal of wilderness as “sublime,” claiming that these “specific habits of thinking” have actually hindered the modern environmental movement by “underpinning other environmental concerns” (97-99). Cronon claims that this insistence on portraying the wilderness as separate from society inadvertently draws attention away from “most of our serious environmental problems” in “the landscape … that we call home” (103). Thus, he concludes that humankind should refrain from a “dualistic vision in which the human is entirely outside the natural” (97). Instead, he advocates that society be self-conscious of its actions in relation to nature everywhere, not just the locations perceived as the wilderness but also the environment that surrounds and permeates human civilization.