Essay 4

What follows is your prompt for Essay 4 (a take-home essay that is due on the last day of class):

Consider famous people.  These people might include politicians, musicians, actors, actresses, coaches, athletes, or serial killers.  Attempt to find discrepancies between the masks they wear in public and the lives they lead in private.  One example, for instance, might be the mask worn by Bill Clinton.  Such a mask seemed to communicate monogamy, yet when he removed the mask, the public was privy to seeing another side.  Similarly, when we learn that a person (arguably a person of repute) is really a drug addict or a child molester, a mask has been identified and removed. Masks manifest themselves in a variety of scenarios, be they the comedian who is manically-depressed, the "clean" athlete who uses performance-enhancing drugs, the "good man" who violently abuses, or the seemingly happy significant other who remains quietly abused. It seems reasonable to suggest, as suggested by Paul Laurence Dunbar in We Wear the Mask (pg. 49), that people do, indeed, wear masks.  Nevertheless, it seems that some masks are more elusive than others.  Thus, consider public figures in an attempt to investigate the masks that some of these people wear.  Then, develop a thesis statement that will guide your argument in a discourse on masks.  Finally, as you reach your essay's conclusion, humanize your text by identifying various masks that you wear and your reasons for wearing them.  (This is one of the rare occasions where I am inviting you to write in first person.  Please, however, confine it to your conclusion.) In this essay, you'd do well to postpone research until you've identified the theories you hope to advance. This sort of essay is, in many ways, wearing its own mask.  (It wears the mask of an easy essay when, in fact, it's fairly challenging. The challenge is advancing your own theories and hypotheses without "accidentally" piggy-backing upon the theories and hypotheses of others. Thus, suppress your initial desire to google "famous people who wear masks." Squash that knee-jerk compulsion to google "Tiger Woods' masks." Your intentions will, very likely, be good. However, you will, very likely, plagiarize and sentence your essay to an academic death.)


Please note the following:


You are encouraged to reference Paul Laurence Dunbar's We Wear the Mask (pg. 49) in your essay.


Your essay should consist of at least 1,000 typed words.


Your essay should include a Works Cited page.  Make sure to examine your Grammar Manual before submitting your Works Cited page.


Your thesis statement should be the last sentence of your first paragraph.


You might consider examining the essay on pg. 329 for help on identifying masks.


Please email me or stop by my office hours if you desire additional assistance.


Some of you will fall into the following trap:  you will compose your body paragraphs in such a way that your essay will seem like less of an essay and like more of a report.  Remember, your objective is not to report.  It is to argue.  My expectations are simple:  each body paragraph should house three quotations.  Now, assuming you are adhering to the pt./ex./comm. structure in your body paragraphs, then each body paragraph will house 11-14 sentences (your commentary might have 1 OR 2 sentences each time).  Thus, if you had 14 sentences in each body paragraph, 11 of those sentences would be advancing your argument that _______ wore a mask.  Only 3 sentences would consist of quotations and, thus, only 3 sentences would remotely resemble "reporting."  Remember, the quotations are essential, for they keep your discourse grounded (without quotations, discourse often becomes lofty and preachy) AND they are essential to advancing your argument.  While the following may be an irresponsible statement, it does seem valid that, often, the person with the most credible, well-placed quotations is the one who wins the argument.  (Of course, winning and losing are quite arbitrary and relative; your goal should be to simply persuade the reader to more seriously contemplate the veracity of your argument.  In doing so, you will have overcome one of the first hurdles standing between you AND your reader's acceptance of your argument.)

Last Updated: 6/3/19
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