ESSAY PROJECT #3, CONCEPT ESSAY
Words have meaning. Words have power.
Words or terms that mean something to us today sometimes meant something entirely different in the past. For example, for centuries the meaning of “to suffer” had no connection to physical or emotional suffering, as it does now. It meant “to allow.” The phrase “I’m sorry” used to have real meaning. The phrase really means “I feel sorrow for you,” not, “Oops, I shouldn’t have done that,” or “Too bad your grandma died.” But language changes in part through error; people started using “suffer” to mean something it originally did not.
The Ancient Greeks had four definitions of love. What is the definition of “love” now? Is the definition the same for someone raised in a society in which the ideal is two people falling in love and living happily ever after and for someone in an arranged marriage? And, what about marriage? The legal definition of “marriage” has changed in the United States very recently.
What is the meaning of “friend”? Do you think your grandparents and you, who grew up with social media, share the same definition?
A person’s family environment and heritage, upbringing, religion, socio-economic status, geographical location, age, and education level can all influence her or his or their understanding of certain terms and concepts.
Select a concept and analyze it closely. The concept may be contained in one word (“friend”), a term (“mental illness”), or even a short phrase (“I love animals”).
You may identify a concept you have wondered about, or one you question, or one you think is misused, or one you think is not up to the task of what it represents, or one you think you see differently than most people. You can pick a heavy-duty concept. Or, you can pick something light. After you have read and thought and explored and analyzed, you will ultimately be arguing something; you will take a position.
For example, I could argue that the term “mental illness” is misleading and by its very nature gives people permission to believe that clinical depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorder are all in the individual’s head and are therefore not “real” illnesses.
Be careful not to end where you started. You should learn much about your term or concept during the process of working on this project. The idea you start with may be right. It may be wrong. The idea you start with may be right, but you may have made assumptions about your term or concept before researching and thinking because you really did not know much about it and how it is used. The idea you start with may be wrong because you made assumptions about it before researching and thinking. Be open. And do not just look for sources that agree with you. Read and learn, read and think, read and wallow in the complexity of your subject.
Your essay will require a minimum of two (2) secondary sources. You will also include the dictionary definition of your word or term or concept. You have to start with the dictionary. We will go over in class how to incorporate the sources. So, once you pick a term or a concept, look it up in a good dictionary. Also google to see how the term or concept is commonly used and people’s thoughts on it.
Your readers are the American public. Always think about your readers and what they do and do not know and therefore what you need to tell them.
FORMAT and LENGTH
Your paper will be double spaced and will follow MLA format. The page-length requirement for your final Project #3 is 3 to 4 pages. That means at least 3 full physical pages and not more than 4 pages. But always draft long.
NOTE: The Works Cited page(s) never counts as part of your page length.