Plagiarism and college culture

Blog for Eng 114. Spring 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blog #2: What is an essay?

According to, the verb essay means "an effort to perform or accomplish something;attempt,to test" With that in mind, I am now "essaying" to write atleast 250 words on "what is an essay." :]

In high school the word essay equaled death by procrastination. After reading a fine work of literature, students were typically put up to the task of completing an essay. "You've got till Friday to complete this assignment." which usually translated to "You have my permission to procrastinate until Thursday night." However, in college the word essay was replaced by a much more non-threatening word: PAPER.

Essay=Paper Paper=3, 4, 10 pages

I guess I never really understood what "you will not sleep till you get this done!" meant until college.

So what does come to mind when asked, "what is an essay?"

Maybe I should have paid more attention to the book...500 words! 5 sentences in a papragraph! 5 paragraphs! Intro, thesis, topic sentence, quotes, conclusion. What's up with Holden Caulfield? How has cable news/internet changed the nature of media reporting? What? How? Why? Huckleberry Finn?

After all the torture students are put through, it's pretty easy to lose sense of what an essay really is.

An essay can be a response to an issue or another author's work. The writer states his or her opinion in a thesis, then supports his/her claim by examining and analyzing several ideas. In the process of challenging or "testing" an idea, the writer will eventually prove his/her point and perhaps even reveal something much more intuitive.

Whether it's an essay on your favorite band or how the madisonian model of gov't is reflected in our current gov' thing is certain, an essay always follows one subject, typically whatever is mentioned in the thesis.

So what are we doing when we're writing an essay? We're making the effort to accomplish what the prompt has asked of us, we're testing ideas, and attempting to reveal something meaningful.

So what's the best, most awesome essay experience I've ever had? Junior year! the "golden thread essay."

Prompt? "Write whatever you'd like," my teacher said.

Deciding on what to write about may been hard with so many possibilities to choose from, but in the end I chose to write about my room and what it meant to me. The only requirements were to place the thesis anywhere in the essay except the first paragraph and to use atleast 4 different rhetorical devices. I had so much fun writing the essay since I was allowed to be as creative and as expressive as I pleased!

So forget what I said earlier about a thesis in the introduction/first paragraph, the golden thread essay reminded me that not all essays are boring book report types.


Blogger Cynthia G. said...

I agree! In high school I totally waited last minute to write an essay.. College whole different story.. I have spent many hours in front of my computer to finish

February 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I really like your last paragraph. THAT is what an essay-writing experience should be -- but how often is that what it's really like in high school? Most of the time, it seems like all you really need to do is regurgitate the information from a reading and/or some lectures, and put it in a 5-paragraph format to get a decent grade. That's not particularly fun, not particularly creative, and it certainly doesn't involve much risk-taking, which the verb "to essay" -- to try, to attempt -- implies should be involved.

February 5, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

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