Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Diagnostic Essay Directions

ENG 101: The Language and Human Rights: Diagnostic Draft


This in-class diagnostic asks students to consider the passage below and to use it as support for an argumentative essay. The argument students will develop should reflect what they’ve been asked to consider for their first assignment: they are to name and explain what they believe is the most important emotional knowledge that slaves articulated about living in a regime of forced labor.  For more details, students should refer back to the Assignment One hand out. Students should aim to draft at least ONE type-written, double-spaced page. Essays should at least reach the last line of the first page.

Students should also organize paragraphs to support this argument. These paragraphs will begin with an introduction containing a thesis statement (see above paragraph). They should also be able to write at least one supporting paragraphs that expand from the thesis statement. This paragraph should contain a topic sentence that supports the thesis statement. This topic sentence should also contain the main idea of the paragraph.

For the purposes of this assignment, students should accept that the text in question here is representative of slave experiences and not exceptional.


Thesis Statement: I believe____[the most important emotional knowledge communicated by slaves is]_______. I believe this because_________[reasons this emotional knowledge is important]_____________. [Imagine a third sentence here referring to and introducing Equiano’s text as the authoritative basis for your thesis statement].
                        Supporting Paragraph
Topic Sentence: [Claim: This sentence is a smaller argument (usually one sentence) that announces the topic of the paragraph and refer to one of the ideas in the thesis statement (one of the reasons you believe what you believe). [The rest of the paragraph explains this idea in more detail, and further refers to the text in question to help that explanation.]

I expected every moment, when I heard a rustling among the trees, to be found out, and punished by my master. But they never discovered me, though they often were so near that I even heard their conjectures, as they were looking about for me; and now I learned from them, that any attempt to return home would be hopeless…When I heard this I was seized with a violent panic, and abandoned myself to despair. Night too began to approach, and aggravated all my fears. I had before entertained hopes of getting home and had determined when it should be dark to make the attempt; but I was not convinced it was fruitless, and considered that, if possibly I could escape all other animals, I could not those of the human kind; and that, now knowing the way, I must perish in the woods. Thus was I like the hunted deer:
                        Ev’ry leaf, and ev’ry whisp’ring breath
                        Convey’d a foe, and ev’ry foe a death.
I heard frequent rustlings among the leaves…This increased my anguish, and the horror of my situation became now quite insupportable. I at length quitted the thicket, very faint and hungry, for I had not eaten nor drunk any thing all day.
From The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (11)

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