MARTHA92_PHD Opinion

Opinion Essay: (750 words—about three pages) This essay, aimed at a general audience, will
refer to specifics from one of the novels we’ve read to make a point about an issue of urgent
importance in the world. You should draw on what you have learned from your research and
express your own opinion on the subject. This is the Signature Assignment for the course, which
means that it will be evaluated in relation to the two main Gen Ed learning outcomes for the
course: Written Communication and Civic Engagement / Intercultural Knowledge.

Your final essay is not quite as long as the presentation report, and it will have a different focus
in that your main goal is to express an opinion. If you want to write about the same topic that
you used for your presentation, you can—and you can draw on the research you did—but the
essay can not reuse what you wrote for the report. Therefore, if you are using the same topic,
you should find an aspect of the debate that you didn’t previously address, or focus more
narrowly on a particular proposal or position.

Please keep in mind the two essential elements of the essay: 1) you must refer to one of the
novels we’ve read, citing plot or characters or settings as examples of the issues addressed in
your essay, and 2) you must engage with the issue in the real world, commenting on how it
affects our society or particular communities. “Civic Engagement / Intercultural Knowledge”
means that you will demonstrate that you are both informed about issues of civic importance
and involved in attempts to address them. In this context, “involved in” could mean simply
willingness to express your opinion to others. But I also encourage you to write about your
personal efforts to create change, whether that’s through your studies, your community roles, or
your career ambitions.

Here’s a rough suggested outline for your essay:

Introductory paragraph: point to a specific element of a novel of your choice (an event, a
quote, some aspect of setting) that shows us the dangers or implications of a particular issue.
Explain how it relates to the real world. End with a statement of your thesis: what do you think
the real issue is, and/or what do you think should be done?
Paragraphs 2-4: Elaborate on the impact of this issue on society, using elements from the novel
as occasional points of comparison. (E.g. “Like Marcus in Little Brother, we’re not always sure
when we’re being surveilled…”). Provide real-world evidence and make sure you make clear
why you think it’s a problem.
Paragraphs 5-7: Outline what is being done currently and what you think should be done to
solve the problem. Provide arguments to justify your approach. Touch on any broader social or
philosophical questions the issue provokes. And for the sake of a coherent presentation, bring
your argument back to how it resonates with the novel.



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