Essay 1 : Defining the Liberal Arts (Due Feb 16 11:59pm)

Prompt in Brief:

Offer a ~1000 word thesis on the meaning of a liberal arts education at Occidental College. Ground your argument in course readings and employ at least three of the following documents as evidence:

You are encouraged to use the first person (“I argue” vs. “This essay argues”) in order to avoid passive voice.

How to Get Started

Start with the evidence sources as a way to describe how teaching and learning happen at Oxy. When employing the above documents as evidence, consider the documents on its own terms and in relation to the others before cutting them up into quotes to suit your argument. Ask yourself, what interesting changes, tensions, differences, or themes can I find amongst these documents?

Next, ask which of the authors we’ve read can help me to make sense of these sources?

What I’m Reading For

This essay assignment allows students to analyze evidence sources in light of course readings to date. Specifically:

  • Provide context for a reader who has not seen these documents. Explain what the document is and quote from it as needed. Always offer your own interpretation of the quotes you use rather than letting the quotes speak for themselves.
  • Concepts and arguments from the readings should be fully explained. Don’t think of your professor as your reader. Instead imagine your reader is college educated but has not read these authors or been in our class discussions.
  • Essays should have a clear thesis statement or argument and a “hook” that draws the reader’s attention to the relevance of the argument. This argument or thesis should reference concepts and arguments from the readings to date.
  • Essays should also include a consideration of a counter argument or alternative perspective as a means to clarify the main argument.
  • Essays should not be confusing or difficult to read. If you feel lost in a sea of your own words, ask a friend to read a draft and tell you where they need to re-read, where they zone out, or what doesn’t make sense.

Submit Essays as a pdf to please use the file name LastName_Essay1.pdf

Stuck with a blank page?

  • Start with the evidence documents
  • Go back to your reading notes to identify issues that seemed important, interesting, provoking, or confusing
  • Re-read your or others’ reflections

Citation Requirements and Styling

Essays should cite readings as they are used in the text using in text citations.

For example:

Only 2% of college students in the United States attend liberal arts colleges (Ferrall 2011).

Note that I cite Ferall even though I’m not using a direct quote, because he is my source for this statistic. If I quoted him exactly, I would also include the page number, like this: (Ferall 10, 2011).

At the end of the paper, include a works cited / bibliography page that includes full citations for all of the sources you’ve cited in the text. Since I’ve used ASA Style (American Sociological Association) in the Reading List, it makes sense to stick with that one and use it consistently.

For example:

Dewey, John. 1916. “The Democratic Conception in Education” pp. 81-99 in Democracy and Education. New York: The Free Press.

Occidental College. 2015. “The Core Program” Retrieved Feb. 10, 2015 (


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s