*All essays should be double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font, with 1” margins on the left and right.*

Literacy Narrative

This is a personal narrative in which you should recount a journey of becoming a part of a community or realizing something about your identity as an individual. This should be a story in which something changes, some kind of growth happens. The essay should focus on the language of that journey—the words you used to define yourself, or the words you needed to learn to understand the concepts of a new arena (like the vocabulary for playing a sport or an instrument, or for hanging out with a new friend group). This essay could also be about moving between different parts of your identity through language (for instance, if a parent is from another country, are there certain words that you use with that person or that have special meaning in that particular context, but which don’t apply to your social life with friends?)

Since our course theme is “The Individual and the Society” I’d like you to think about these concepts and weave them into your essay. If you are writing about a group, write a part about how that group operates within society—what role does it play in the community, the city, the country? If you are writing about a personal journey, how does your experience connect you to or alienate you from society? This could include your family, your ethnic community, your religious community.

Some possible areas you could write about (these are just suggestions—feel free to propose something else):

  • cultural identity
  • personal identity
  • religious identity
  • Juggling multiple identities/linguistic frameworks
  • From confusion to understanding

Qualities of a successful literacy narrative:

  • Gives specific, concrete examples to support the ideas/events/feelings you describe. Said another way, show don’t tell.
  • Avoids cliché phrases. Here’s a trick to tell whether you are using a cliché: if you have heard that phrase used on TV or by the people around you regularly, it’s a cliché. Exceptions: if they are an integral part of the journey of language you are describing. For example, if you moved to a new country, and you only knew certain overused expressions in that country’s language, you can write about that. But avoid phrases like, “And that’s what made me the person I am today” or “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • Describes using multiple senses. If you are trying to convey to the reader the feeling of walking into a house in the evening where there is food cooking and people talking, tell us about the smells and the sounds of that space—doing this can bring the experience more to life for the reader.
  • Uses figurative language when it is helpful to paint the picture for your reader. Similes, metaphors, etc. If you need assistance with this, look on our class website under Resources—>Writing and Editing.
  • Has a minimum of two paragraphs per page. Single page blocks of text are unacceptable.
  • Not riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. If you need help on this, I recommend installing the free plug-in Grammarly. Also, always spell and grammar check your work before submitting.


  • 1,500-1,800 words / ~ 5-6 double- spaced pages
  • 20% of course grade
  • Due Dates: Draft (1000 words minimum): Monday, Sept 30th by 10 p.m.
  • Final: Friday, Oct. 1st by 11:59 p.m.

Format for this and all other essays:

  • No title page!
  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Margins: One inch on right and left
  • Page numbers: Bottom right hand corner of the page, starting on page one
  • Proper Heading: Upper left hand corner of the page, should include your name, the class name, my name (Prof. Gordon), the date, and the draft (first draft, final draft). It should look something like this:

Samantha Yang

Eng 2100: The Self & Society

Prof. Gordon

First Draft

Title goes here


Essay begins here….

Cultural Artifact Analysis Essay

  • 1,800-2,100 words / ~ 6-7 double- spaced pages
  • 25% of course grade
  • Due Dates: Draft (1,200 words minimum): Monday, Oct 11th by 10 p.m.
  • Final: Tuesday, Oct 26th by 11:59 p.m.

A cultural artifact is something produced for a specific community and possibly by the community itself. It could be an object, a text, a piece of art, a place, a piece of media, or some combination of these. Remember, artifacts represent the values of the community. Cultural artifacts are usually, although not always, intended for or connected to public consumption

For this essay your task is to closely analyze a cultural artifact of your choice, to locate its seams and disjunctures, to dig deep into its inner workings/mechanisms, and to discover just what your artifact is telling us about our individual and social lives–and how! Sometimes rhetorical and ideological arguments are hidden within objects, messages, advertising, entertainment, etc. In a word, they are all around us. Your job is to exercise your critical capacity and interrogate these things, getting past who they pretend to be, to get to the hidden realms of what these images/objects/messages mean but do not say.

For this assignment, you are being asked to select a cultural artifact and consider:

  •  What cultural assumptions/expectations/values are embedded in this artifact?
  •  How are these messages conveyed? Through what rhetorical means? Pay attention to “form” and “tone” here.
  • What is its relationship to our course theme of “The Individual and the Society”?

Here are some ideas for the type of artifact you might choose to analyze:

A foundational text

A mural

A dish from a particular cuisine

An app

A work of art (a piece of music, a painting or photograph, a film, a TV show, a book, etc)

A building

A newspaper or magazine (online or in print)

An advertisement (print or digital)

A cell phone

A car

A social media platform, like Twitter


There are a few things your essay MUST have: (1) a cultural artifact, one which you should have chosen and announced in advance; (2) analysis focused on the artifact in question (3) a thesis, an argument which you see arising out of your analysis of your artifact.

Format: The usual.


Research-Based Argument Essay

  • 2,400 words / ~ 8 double-spaced pages
  • 30% of the course grade
  • Due Dates: Draft (1,500 words minimum): Monday, Nov 29th by 10 p.m.
  • Final: Wednesday, Dec. 15th by 11:59 p.m.


Weekly Reading/Writing + Class Participation

  • Weekly written responses to course readings + engagement with class discussion board- respond to two peer blog posts each week
  • 25% of the course grade
  • Low-stakes writing done before class on Blogs@Baruch