Essay #2: Argumentative Analysis. You are familiar with the process of description and reflection, have read chapters 4, 5, and 6 in the course textbook EmpoWord (Abrams), and have completed (and submitted) Essay #1.

Task: To demonstrate critical and analytical thinking through the medium of writing, you will perform an argumentative analysis of the object you chose to focus on in Essay #1. The argumentative analysis will put forward an interpretation of your object by situating it in conversation with a single topic framework listed below. You will work to acknowledge conversations already underway about your object (or its associated representation) by synthesizing the findings of others through the use of direct quotation and summary. You should strive to submit an essay driven by a central, unifying insight presented as a thesis and supported by your own close reading of your object’s representation within the topic framework and a corresponding secondary source.


  • Your essay must situate your object within one of the following topic frames:
    • How and why does your object represent an interpretation of cultural heritage?
    • How and why does your object represent an interpretation of labour practices?
    • How and why does your object represent an interpretation of social justice?
    • How and why does your object represent an interpretation of scientific discovery?
  • Your essay must acknowledge conversations already underway about the relevant topic of your choice above by including the following from at least one relevant academic-oriented secondary source (i.e., high-level writing / researching standard, refereed, peer reviewed–found through academic databases and/or academic journals):
    • Your essay must correctly integrate and reference at least one direct, in-text, quotation of not less than 11 words encountered in one secondary source.
    • Your essay must correctly integrate and reference a synthesis (summary) of the interpretation encountered in one secondary source.
  • Your secondary source must be “academic” and “argumentative” in nature (it should interpret rather than provide a generalized overview) and be discovered through the Douglas College Library “Articles and Databases” and/or “Library Research Guides” links in the website menu. Please do not use “qualitative” or “quantitative” secondary sources rich with statistics or that describe processes without interpretive results. You cannot use secondary sources such as textbooks, government websites, or non-academic websites (including Wikipedia).
  • Your essay title page should be formatted according to MLA Format. You will also need a bibliographic page and in-text citations. You may cite your secondary source(s) using either MLA or APA formatting, both in-text and on the bibliographic page–please be consistent and do not “mix-and-match” different formatting styles.
  • You should come to the assigned drafting class with a draft of the essay (at least two pages (500 words) long) either printed or accessible to another reader (on your laptop for instance). If you do not have a draft ready, for whatever reason, there is no need to attend class since the class will deal directly with the draft. Remember that drafting is an important part of writing in academic contexts; your work will be better if you draft and participate in peer review. Drafting class dates are on the course outline, but they are Oct. 23 (Section 001) / Oct. 25 (Section 002).
  • When you submit your essay to me by Email, please make sure you have included your name in the file name of your essay (i.e., yourlastnamehere-essay01.docx) and that your essay is a .docx file. I will not accept .pdf, .pages, or .odt files. All students enrolled at the College have access to Office365 and the appropriate file formats. I will confirm the receipt of your essay by Email within 24 hours. If you have not received confirmation after 24 hours, please follow up.


  • You can change your object so that it is different than the first essay if you wish.
  • While you cannot reuse materials from Essay #1, I am aware that some of the descriptive elements and approach may be similar. In any event, work to make evident that you are building upon skills rather than simply regurgitating completed work. Don’t reuse material from your first essay. Instead, renew that material and re-present it in a way that shows you applying knowledge gleaned from your earlier effort.
  • There is no strict limit on the number of quotations you could use from your secondary source(s). You can use as many quotations as are needed to show you can apply the ideas of others to the conversation you are initiating, but the number of quotations you use will not necessarily result in higher marks. Higher marks go to direct quotations and summative statements that are effectively integrated into the perspective you are offering and that show you can apply the ideas of others to your own analysis in a nuanced way.

You should begin by looking for contextual information that will help you “direct” your close reading and analysis, particularly if you know nothing about your object and its relation to the topics above. As well, make sure you work to use the active reading strategies covered in the Abrams textbook (“Appendix B” and the discussion of symbols, patterns, and other markers of engaged reading) to analyze your text through a close reading.

Try to use close reading strategies (patterns, symbols, references) to provide evidence for your response to the questions above. Use a secondary source (or two) to help add context to your discussion or reinforce the suitability of your perspective. Look for secondary sources that have a similar perspective, “lens,” reference point, or contextual basis to your own.

Remember, use description, narrative, and reflection while accounting for comprehension, context, and implication. This essay question asks you to perform a close reading of your object’s representation within a particular context (or, “directed by,” or “through the lens of” a particular context). Direct your close reading to figure out how your object represents the patterns, symbols, and references of that context (i.e., Immigration).


  • This essay builds on the skills we learned and applied in Essay #1. Make sure you have adequate description, narrative, and and reflection.
  • Feel free to use Wikipedia and other explanatory resources to refine and explore your topic in a general way. However, you should not reference Wikipedia or the dictionary in your essay. Remember, you will likely need to learn a bit about your topic before you can even begin to understand how your object might relate to it. Be prepared to do some “pre-learning” before you start “researching” your topic. Having a general understanding of what your topic is about before you begin researching is important–use the dictionary and reference materials to establish exactly what it is you will be speaking to when it comes to the topic. Then, ramp up to the research databases.
  • There is an element of bravery and curiosity needed to get through this assignment. You may feel like you don’t know where to start or look, or even what you are looking for. Follow your curiosity and make decisions based on what you think is the correct path. Reach out if you need to, but take some initiative and try to discover things on your own too. In most cases, you’re safe trusting your instincts.
  • Be conscious of how the task of completing this essay requires the application of concepts and practices outlined in Chapters 4, 5, and 6 on Empoword. Look to the textbook for answers and tips for how to organize and present your research.
  • Be very conscious of your essay’s organizational principles and avoid simply describing your example/representation. Assume that your audience is able to understand your object and wants to know your interpretation of it. You should reflect upon it and show your audience what the text means; do not “teach” the audience about the object; interpret the object within a contextual taxonomy. In short, enter the academic conversation!
  • Be accountable to the word limit. Narrow your topic appropriately, collect relevant examples, pull out references, and synthesize them into something interesting.
  • Use the commentaries of others to figure out some areas of focus. Your interpretation should emerge, in part, from the synthesis of how others discuss similar representation(s) (of objects such as yours) in context–you will need to learn something, maybe.
  • Use the repetition of key terms (words) and categories of terms (synonyms) to make sure your essay is focused around a central moment, idea, or place. Remember to use concrete terminology and refer to specific tangible examples.
  • Speak to the significance of your example–what does it show your reader and why is it significant for helping further the conversation about your object and the contexts within which we might encounter it? What do you hope your readers take away from reading your essay–what is the value you hope to convey in your writing?

Please remember that this essay requires a concise and well-developed thesis sentence that makes a claim in response to the questions above. Paragraphing and argumentation should follow logical patterns of development and critical thinking.

Further notes of clarification:

  • This essay requires reading outside the course materials. Make sure you leave adequate time to peruse the secondary sources–you may need to read sources you do not use in your essay. You will need to engage with conversations already underway that are relevant to your topic of choice by reading through a number of different resources that may feature elevated academic style and be hard to process quickly. Often, engaging with these conversations will not be self-evident–you will need to think, reverse course, learn new terminology, recognize patterns, and shift your own thinking. Avoid leaving this essay to the last minute. Instead, map out the steps required to get the essay completed and to the best of your ability follow that schedule.
  • All formatting questions can be answered through The Learning Centre. All questions about my expectations can be answered by consulting the Essay Expectations and Grading Rubric sheet and the related course information.
  • This essay tests your ability to process and apply the readings in the course up to this point. After reading the question, ask yourself how it asks you to apply elements of the course lectures and readings. Use those readings and lectures as your guide.
  • I draw your attention to The Learning Centre handouts and particularly those dealing with an “Overview of the Writing Process” and “Sentence Structure and Punctuation.” These sheets are particularly helpful for those of you working through sentence-level challenges (grammar, syntax, voicing) and discomfort with the intricacies of the English language.
  • More successful essays will answer “yes” to all the following questions:
    • Does the essay reflect your thinking on the subject? Your essay should reflect your own perspective / reflection on the topic, not a generalized perspective or what you suspect is my thinking on the topic.
    • Does the essay attempt to apply (put to use) some of the concepts and examples we have been discussing in the course so far?
    • Does the essay present its example and interpretation in a way that reflects care and attention to the requirements of a College-level English course? (I.e., well-organized and coherent development; good sentence structure that emphasizes concrete terms and description helping the reader follow your train of thought and visualize your border space; in short, your best writing.)
    • Does the essay have your name on it, a title that reflects care and attention to the task, formatting that shows you can follow directions?
    • Have you reviewed your last essay? Have you incorporated corrections and reflected on how you might revise your approach to essay writing in light of the comments on your last essay? Do you see progress in your approach to writing from your last essay to this one?