Essay Assignments

This class is organized into three units or progressions, each culminating in a graded essay assignment. You will also complete in-class and homework exercises throughout each progression. I will read all your homework exercises but will not provide written feedback on every exercise; most times, you will only receive a point for participation. However, you are expected to complete all these exercises, as they help you do the work required to develop strong formal and final drafts.

Essay 1: Rhetorical Analysis

Create an argument about how Stuart Hall understands the “crisis of identity” in “The Question of Cultural Identity,” critically analyzing his rhetorical choices as a writer and the essay’s significance within the larger conversation of cultural identity. You should aim not only to characterize how Hall understands the concept but also how his writerly choices are meaningful within the rhetorical situation. Your essay will help a student audience understand Hall’s essay.
Link to Essay 1 Assignment Guidelines
Link to Model Essay for Essay 1

Essay 2: Lens Analysis

Use ideas from “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power” by Stuart Hall and Decoding Advertisements by Judith Williamson to analyze how cultural identities are used and represented in a static visual advertisement. What are the intended and unintended messages of the advertisement? You must also consider how your argument complicates or extends ideas about identity discussed in “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power.”
Link to Essay 2 Assignment Guidelines
Link to Model Essay for Essay 2

Essay 3: Researched Argument

Use contextual, theoretical, and argument sources to produce an insightful argument about how a single film explores conflicts that stem from cultural identity. As you critique how identity is represented in the film, you must engage with existing opinions about the film and relevant theories on cultural identity. What do the existing conversations about this film seem to ignore or leave out? To what extent do you see the representation of identity in this film as illuminating or problematic? A list of suggested films will be provided.
Link to Essay 3 Assignment Guidelines (REVISED)
Link to Model Essay for Essay 3

Submitting Essays

  • You will submit essay assignments electronically and many assignments as printed paper copies. They are due on the day indicated on the course calendar. You will submit your essays as Microsoft Word document or PDF (no Google Docs or Pages files) to the appropriate Dropbox folder using the links provided on the assignment.
  • Use the following protocol to name the files you post:
    [LastNameFirstInitial]_[E#]_[AssignmentName].doc (or .docx)
    For example, when submitting the Final Draft of Essay 3, a student named Diego Rivera, would name his file:
    NB: Following submission guidelines is part of the assignment grade.

Image: Bush Yam Dreaming by Freda Price Petyarre (b. 1984), an Anmatyerre who is from the Utopia Region in Central Australia. The bush yam is prevalent in the region, and in Ms. Petyarre’s tradition, dreaming represents the spiritual life of all things, the stories of which connect the people to the land. The tradition of indigenous Australian women artists is an ancient one, and her mother and sister are both artists as well (

Note that I refer to the artist as an “Anmatyerre,” rather than “aborigine,” the latter of which is the collective and non-specific term used by people who are not indigenous to Australia. How does how we are labeled by others conflict with how we label ourselves?

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