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Initial writing assignment Comp 1K

Initial writing sample assignment due at the start of class, Thursday, January 25th

As we start the semester, it is important for me to get an initial sample of your writing. Doing so helps me to assess the specific abilities that exist in each section and to customize the course’s stylistic and mechanical foci so that they meet major needs.

This assignment has two parts. Follow the format outlined on your syllabus (no cover page is necessary). Each of your responses should run 1 to 2 pages in length. (Longer is not better; better is better.)

1.Select a short piece of non-fiction* that meets your personal criteria for effective prose and then write about it. Your purpose is to present the text you’ve selected to an audience (me) who has never read it. You want your reader to understand, and hopefully agree, with your positive sentiments. Do not attach the selected reading to your discussion; instead, make your reader know what is in it and why it meets your standards.

*Your selection may come from anywhere -- books, newspapers, essays, magazines, CD liner notes etc. It can be as short as a paragraph or as long as a short essay or chapter – but no longer. One hint: pick something that pleases you for reasons beyond simply “I’m interested in the subject.?

Criteria for success: ability to summarize the original succinctly and substantially, and to persuade readers of your criteria for success and of the ways in which the piece you choose meets them.

2.Read the attached essay, “Lines in the Mind, Not in the World,? by Donella Meadows. Create a written response in which you engage your reader in Meadows’ ideas about the concept of “boundary? and articulate your own ideas about this concept and its applications. Your audience will be completely unfamiliar with Meadow’s essay.

Criteria for success: ability to summarize the original succinctly, ability to apply Meadow’s concepts credibly to other circumstances.

This assignment will be graded on a check, check plus, check minus basis, and will count toward the “short writing assignments? percentage of your grade.


I hope you take a minute to point out that Donella Meadows was an environmental scientist, and that scientists don't always have to communicate in dry academic prose (and maybe, perhaps, their greatest achievements occur when they abandon this medium?).

Disclaimer: not the same Todd Arnold who will be going up for full tenure in a few years.

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