Essay #1 – Response to Dark Night of the Soul
Richard Miller’s essay begins with events have indirectly and directly affected your schooling life. As the essay builds into questions – questions for teachers and students at all levels – the violence and alienation remain, changing how we think about what reading and writing might do, might teach us. “I have doubts, you see,” Miller writes, “doubts silently shared by many who spend their days teaching others the literate arts.” These doubts end in the provocative question: “What might the literate arts be said to be good for?”
Write an essay which takes up this question in 4 pages (double-spaced, 1’’ margins, New Times Roman, 12 pt). Provide your own answer in contexts you develop such as your range of reference, people like you, the group you feel at this moment in your schooling life best prepared to speak for.
While your experience outside the text is important, your dialogue with Miller – conversing with him on his terms, his concerns, his examples and conclusions – is also important. This assignment is what is called a “passage-based focused” essay. I have given you the passage I want you to use. For more on this kind of writing, see chapter 3 in Writing Analytically. This should not turn into “I disagree/agree” and also Miller’s ideas should not be thoughtlessly applied to any one particular school, UNG or otherwise.
Questions to consider:
What values does Miller assume and how might they be played out?
What are the contexts to his argument and your experience?
How might you structure your essay to reflect the idea of “a dark night of the soul?”
How might you use not just the personal but social issues like curriculum reform to make your point?
Where does your perspective easily interact and rub against Miller? How do you resolve those issues for the purposes of this assignment?
Remember, you do not need to answer all these questions or in this order. Perhaps choose one or two and make connections between them to get started. Concentrate on those elements of his essay you feel are particularly important and useful to your project. Remember the “text” as a space for your own invention process we have talked about in class.
Do not assume your reader has read Miller’s essay. Be sure you present Miller through uses of quotes, explanation, and paraphrase that suit the purpose of your essay. Do work with his words. [adapted from Ways of Reading, pg. 445]
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