Essay 2: Writing a Profile (200 points or 20%)
Profile an intriguing person, group, place, or activity in your community. Observe your subject closely , and then present what you have learned in a way that both informs and engages readers.
Profiles in the Time of COVID 19
Chapter 3 of the St. Martin’s Guide to Writing asks students to “Profile” a person, place, group, or activity, performing in person field research. This has traditionally been a very valuable assignment, encouraging students to go out into their communities and discover new aspects of the world around them. However, the traditional model won’t work for the current situation where we need to practice social distancing, so the assignment requires some rethinking. Here are two alternate approaches to this assignment in the age of Covid 19:
Profile the Effects of the Crisis
One option is for students profile someone they know who is affected by the current crisis. This could be someone whom they are isolated with, or someone they can communicate with remotely. They could explore how the crisis is affecting that individual personally, professionally, economically, emotionally, and in any other fashion they care to discuss. This could also be applied to organizations and businesses, profiling how they are affected by the crisis.
Allowing students to explore and consider the numerous ways this crisis is affecting themselves and others could be cathartic. It might also be too much for some students, so here is an option that encourages exploration from the safety of home.
Profiling a Virtual Tour
In the increasingly digital and virtual world we now all inhabit, there are many places that can be “visited” and profiled without having to leave home. The following website provides a list of and links to numerous museums that offer virtual tours of their collections. These range from the ubiquitous British Museum to quirkier offerings like Museum of Broken Relationships.
It might be even more productive to encourage students to think about how the virtually mediated tour affects their interaction with its materials and displays, and to engage with how virtual experiences differ from real ones.
Part of conducting an investigation entails gathering sources of various types depending on the writer’s goals and the audience’s expectations. An ethnography, for example, is “an in depth profile used in many academic subjects, such as sociology, anthropology, and linguistics, to analyze the culture—behaviors, beliefs, and values—of a particular community (66).
Essay 1 asked you to recreate a story from your past that showcased a moment of change; Essay 2 expands that spotlight from the self toward showcasing your community’s culture. Essay 2’s objectives will show that you can:
Choose a singular community’s culture to profile and
gather information about your subject through personal interviews, observations, and formal research—
framing your information in a clear, engaging, and purposeful profile essay that includes dialogue.
To begin this assignment, you need to decide what you are going to profile. I’d like you to write a full paragraph explaining who or what you have decided to profile, and also give me some ide of why you chose this subject.
After you have done this, I’d like you to do some initial brainstorming to think about your subject and how you will present your profile to your reader. To help you with this, consider whether your essay will describe something objectively (factually, clinically) or subjectively (using your own reaction to further the description).
One is not easier than the other, but one way to begin this discovery draft is by listing all of the things something IS like, followed by the things the thing is NOT like.
Your tasks for this discovery draft are as follows:
1. Create the list noted above, paying attention to details and descriptions as you incorporate the five senses into your list. Be certain that what you have included in your discovery draft is rich in description and contains vivid details. The reader needs to be standing in your shoes, seeing what you’re seeing. We will be working on this aspect throughout the rough draft process.
2. Concentrate on how you organize your material: objectively, you might want to start with a “lab report” sequence of events (first this, then that); subjectively, you might want to concentrate on locations and emotions evoked with those locations. Locations are especially important because you will need to set the stage for the “where” of the information you are conveying: where does something take place? from what vantage point? where is its relation in time? You will move from specific to vague or vice versa.
3. Think about why all of this matters or who should care about what you are writing about. Having a purpose in mind will help you to craft a working thesis.
The first two elements to not need to be formally written out. You can just list or make notes. I would like you to create another paragraph for the third question where you more formally discuss the significance or impact of your chosen subject.
Writing Reflection Questions
Agree/Disagree PollI know the criteria that will be used for giving me feedback.
Free ResponseI need direction or help with…
Free ResponseOne idea I want to develop further is…
Chapter 3 (pages 54-105) of The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing addresses how to compose a Profile essay. Essay 2’s assignment requirements reflect the aforementioned objectives as follows:
For Essay 2, I invite you to choose a culture to profile within one of your communities—such as your city, neighborhood, church, sports team, etc. If you choose one of the alternate assignments, you may be dealing with a different community. In that case, think about what you discover about the culture of the person or organization you are profiling.
Your paper will present an academic essay, focusing on an overarching purpose or theme. When recreating the moment, be sure to use dialogue and specific details when they add to an understanding of the culture’s impact, develop identity construction, or enrich your rhetoric. Be mindful to show and tell so that your reader has an actual story rather than just a list of plot points. Through your compelling storytelling, your reader should see why you profiled your subject.
Unlike Essay 1, this assignment calls for a balance of interview data, traditional research, and narrative. Beyond that tightrope act, the narrative must also focus on an overarching purpose or theme. Students sometimes find it helpful to take a vignette approach to the assignment.
General Info & Deadlines
Strict MLA formatting required—see SMG Ch. 20; use personal pronouns when appropriate.
In addition to the official 1ABC rubric, I will assess your essay using the requirements detailed in this prompt.
Paper length minimum: 1500 words.
(10/27): Turn in your Profile Plan.
(11/2): Complete rough draft for peer review.
(1/3): Complete your peer review for the essays assigned to you (we will have some class time for this).
(11/5):Final paper due via Achieve by the end of the day).
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