Archive for July, 2003
2002-03 Selected Essays
The Art of the Safe House (1st Place)
Belief Creates Reality (2nd Place)
Charles P. Clark
The Science of Science (3rd Place)
The Vulnerable Culture (4th Place)
English Power: A Movement that Shapes Americans (Honorable Mention)
Grand Theft Auto III: Satisfying a Thirst for Control, Violence, and Fantasy (Honorable Mention)
Greetings from the Co-Chairs
We are pleased to present this publication of the first annual 100-level Writing Contest.
The following winning essays were selected by the Writing Contest Committee, which is made up of two co-chairs and several readers, all of whom are instructors experienced in evaluating writing produced in the 100-level courses. The essays, first, were nominated by the instructors of English 105, 111, 121, and 131; secondly, the essays were reviewed by the committee in two eliminating rounds. Then the final four essays were ranked: 1st Place, 2nd Place, 3rd Place and Honorable Mention. The final two essays were selected by us, the co-chairs, as additional honorable mentions.
These essays are not intended in any way to be viewed as templates for the essays you or your students are asked to produce in 100-level writing classes. As we remind our students, writing essays for college courses is a complicated balancing act of close reading, critical analysis, argument, clarity, creativity, and fluency in the stylistic conventions of the various genres found in the academy. You will note that each of these essays has strengths in each of these areas—they would not be included did they not; however, each essay also offers the opportunity for other students to augment, counter argue, and critique the arguments and rhetorical choices of these student authors. We are certain you will find this collection a useful tool in your classes as a starting point for your own discussions of what makes for “good writing” and a catalyst for further critical thinking.
We congratulate the authors included in this year’s publication for their hard work. We would also like to thank all the instructors who nominated student essays for their participation. And, we invite those of you interested in keeping the contest vital and growing to participate in the coming years.
June 30, 2003
Dear First-Year Writing Students:
For many years now, the instructors in the Expository Writing Program have been pleased and proud of the writing their students have done in their courses. We had, however, no way of making those excellent essays available across sections of first-year writing, more than 180 each year. Last year, under the supervision of the very able instructors Meredith Lee and Michelle LaFrance, we initiated a contest for a set of first-year writing prizes and contained in this packet are the results. Everyone taking a first-year course in 2003-04 will purchase the packet and having the packet will allow you, as a first-year student, to see what kinds of essays your instructors consider the best in the program.
We hope that you will find reading these essays valuable and that one of your own essays may appear here next year.
Gail Stygall, Director
Expository Writing Program
English Language and Literature
In her essay, “Arts of the Contact Zone,” Mary Louise Pratt defines the contact zone as “[ . . . ] social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical power [ . . . ]” (Pratt 575). It can be a dangerous place, where people are easily misunderstood and hurt. It can also be a place of mutual understanding, new wisdom, and the wonder that comes when people learn from each other. Because the contact zone is so unpredictable, Pratt also talks about the need for places where people can retreat from the contact zone and feel safe. She calls these places “safe houses” and uses the term to “[ . . . ] refer to social and intellectual spaces where groups can constitute themselves as horizontal, homogeneous, sovereign communities with high degrees of trust, shared understandings, temporary protection from legacies of oppression” (Pratt 586). However, this idea of “safe houses” is not unique to Pratt. Gloria Anzaldúa is an American Chicano writer, whose essay, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” also implies the need for places of shared understanding. Anzaldúa and Pratt both recognize the need for safe houses. However, Pratt believes that they can be formed inherently within a culture, and so fails to recognize their complexities, where as, Anzaldúa takes these complexities into account, and would argue that a common cultural heritage does not inherently create a safe house.
While CutCo Cutlery Corp. manufactures knives, Vector Marketing Corp. sells them. Opting not to market the popular brand of cutlery in retail outlets, Vector instead employs thousands of college students across the country as sales representatives (also called “reps”) who directly visit customers’ homes for live demonstrations. Being one of those employees, I began my summer with Vector in the same way that a foreigner visits a new country. I learned the jargon, the procedures and the ideology. Soon, I was fully integrated into the Bellevue office, along with some twenty others. As I came in for training, I received a regular dose of motivation from the constantly positive managerial staff, endlessly encouraged to think “poz” and to think big. The business moved fast—it was a continuous cycle of phone calls, appointments, paperwork, more phone calls—until the Vector marketing machine abruptly came to a halt for one day each month. During that day, sales reps of the North-Pacific region convened in Bellevue for awards, recognition, and learning. However, the most substantial portion of any given conference was the personal sales countdown, which determined who among us had the most sales for the two previous weeks. It is during the countdown when the Vector employees’ philosophy of optimism, motivation, and individual empowerment reaches its pinnacle. Through this process we can see what many of the sales reps do not: that ambitious optimism, when taken to the extreme, becomes delusion.
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Isaac Newton, who in 1676 wrote this sentence to colleague Robert Hooke, has himself become a giant in the eyes of the scientific community. With keen intellectual insight, Newton made huge advances in the sciences—particularly by developing the particle theory of light and discovering the laws of physical motion and universal gravitation. Alan Gross, however, would object to Newton’s “insight,” contesting his purported “discovery.” While discovery implies apprehending the objective workings of nature, Gross in “Rhetorical Analysis” argues that “the claims of science are solely the products of persuasion” (389). Newton is a giant, he would say, because of his eloquent yet invented arguments. However, the act of rendering all scientific endeavors to rhetoric and persuasion is not something uncontroversial. Though science is certainly linked with argumentation, this doesn’t give it license for speculation. A scientific theory is not a stick man supported solely by its proponents’ glib tongues. Rather, even the most beautifully constructed theories must cede to experimental data because science at its core demands rigor and specific, testable claims.
In the past and to this day, the Indian culture has been under the constant influence of the western world. This influence that was first welcomed is now slowly but surely becoming a threat to the survival of the Indian cultural beliefs. The magnitude of this influence encompasses from the entertainment industry to traditional family values. Some Indians call this influence an unwanted change and term it as a cultural genocide. They believe with the introduction of this genocide our rich ancient culture is at stake. Mary Louise Pratt, author of the article “Arts of the Contact Zone,” terms the process by which this unwanted change is introduced in a culture as a “contact zone.” She defines this term as [ . . . ] “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power” [ . . . ] (Pratt 575). This social space created by the clash of two or more cultures tends to engulf the subordinate culture by the culture in authority and dominance, leaving the subordinate culture vulnerable to extinction. I fear the extinction of these subordinate cultures and believe that the contact zone in India enables the dominant Western culture to diminish and inhibit the growth of traditional Indian and other minority cultures.
2002-03 Honorable Mention: “Grand Theft Auto III: Satisfying a Thirst for Control, Violence, and Fantasy” by Lindsey Peugh
Grand Theft Auto III is a Play Station video game that directs a man, whom we’ll refer to as “Joe”, on a series of errands for mob bosses in fictional “Liberty City.” Through his jobs, ranging from destroying coffee stands to relocating cars to various areas of the city, Joe earns money, the favor of some mob bosses, and the hatred of the cops and certain street gangs. Joe often faces situations in which he must perform violent actions to acquire the means to accomplish his missions. Innocent bystanders can be killed for their money in gory, blood-filled fashion while Joe rips and tears into their bodies with a baseball bat. Cops and enemy gang members can be run over with cars as Joe escapes danger and the consequences of his actions. And to top it all off, Joe can pick up a prostitute, drive into a secluded area to employ her services, and then kill her to take back his money. Most video games are used exclusively as a form of entertainment; however, this violent game does more than just entertain its players.
My paper argues of the presence of the culture of power that Standard English possesses in our American Society and how hazardous it is to our ethnic backgrounds individually and nationally. My paper is brimming with personal experiences (mine and others), italicized words, slang usage, and questions, which are all disliked by the culture of power and goes against what I was taught a superb argumentative essay should look like. My methods are used to ask you to realize some aspects in life that we take for granted and accept as the “truth,” also it is used to keep my argument flowing relating some of the questions to the next set of facts. I intentionally broke the rules to prove a point that superb papers can still exist with the absence of obedience to the rules of English and grammar. In a way, it is my way of protesting against and lessens the power of Standard English in my writing and in my “voice.”
- 2013-2014 Winner: “The Limits of Applying Ethical Theories to Literary Analysis” by Joanne Kim
- 2012-2013 Winner: “A Defense of the Legalization of Homosexuality in China” by Junmeng Zhu
- 2012-2013 Winner: “Does What You Like Define Who You Are” by Malie Fujii
- 2011-2012 i.e. Winner: “The impact of tangible evidence” by Rebecca Eskildsen
- 2011-2012 Winner: “A Virtual Exchange of Basketball Culture” by Ameen Tabatabai
- 2010-11 Winner: “Literal and Metaphorical: Racial Themes in Harry Potter” by Kayhan Nejad on
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