1) Carefully read the essay instructions in the syllabus. There is lots of very concrete advice and everything you need to know about the formal expectations. You need to read these two pages in the syllabus and follow them in order to succeed on this assignment. The essay grading rubric, which details how these expectations translate into grades, is attached to this assignment and copied in “useful stuff”.

2) Content Prompt (see syllabus for all formal expectations): Answer one of the course questions. You’ll find them on the course schedule page on the syllabus (page 3, in the column titled “topics”). Respond with a specific thesis/argument/claim, i.e narrow down your response to something less broad than the question gives room for, so you can say and prove something meaningful in 1000 words (+/-100). Cite at least one reputable outside source and one class text.

As before, make an argument, don’t present a subjective opinion (no “I believe”). Be specific and make sure it is not just a summary or description (arguments are debatable claims). You can argue for anything IF you do it well, which means that you can sustain its aspects with evidence (quotations) and explanations over the course of 1000 words. Think of the task as convincing someone you don’t know of your argument.

In order to convince, you need to give evidence (i.e. quote reputable sources, which can range from philosophy to science to literature… put keywords in the library search catalog & ask a librarian for help) and explain how this specific quote supports your argument. Quote at least one outside source and one class text (ideally more and, if you want, also others, but avoid Wikipedia or too many dictionaries). Check your sources and don’t just rely on one.

Make sure you explain everything well and in appropriate language, and don’t assume that I or anyone in this class is your reader (think of a stranger with no previous knowledge of the topic instead).

Avoid trying to argue for several things and jumping back and forth between ideas. Instead, plan out the structure of your paper: If this is my argument, what do I need to explain and prove for all it’s components, and which order makes this clearest? Or, where do I need to go and which steps do I need to take to make my point?

Re-read your own essay, use spell-check, and double-check whether you followed all instructions (quotations? word count? format?… read that section in the syllabus!). Test your argument on your roommate, your mom, your best friend… share what you’ve written to get feedback. It can only improve your paper.

Coming up with a thesis is hard, so let us help you! Use the in-class exercises, office hours, etc. to run your thesis by us and your peers. The Writing Center offer lots of help too (link & info in syllabus). Remember that you get an automatic 5% grade bonus if you upload evidence of having gotten help with your paper from either of these sources. Don’t ignore the word minimum/maximum instructions!

Syllabus Topics

1. How do we speak about life? How has life been defined?

2. What is life like/lifelike & how can we even tell?

3. Does art imitate life or vice versa? How does art animate & keep alive?

4. How do we classify life forms? What is a human?

5. What is between classification categories?

6. How do we regulate human life?

7. What is plant life?

8. What is animal life?

9. How do we live with nonhuman life forms?

10. Are there ways of ‘surviving’ life?

11. Are the undead alive?

12. Is there life in the machine?

13. How do we live on?

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