The In-Class Essay

These are my expectations for an in-class essay.

In-class essays require a minimum of three paragraphs.

1. Introductory Paragarph

2. Body Paragraph

3. Concluding Paragraph

If you need to write more that is fine, but within the time frame, shoot for at least these three elements in order to fulfill the requirements.

Choose a thesis that is tight enough and specific enough to be well developed in this short span. Try to avoid generalities, but instead be as concise as possible, so that it can be supported by evidence from the literature or your experience as required.

Please read below for a review of the required elements within these three paragraphs.

Introductory Paragraph

Your introductory paragraphs should include the following:

1. Attention getting/Opening lines to that draw the reader in.

2. Back ground information or definition of terms necessary to understand your essay.

3. A clear and concise thesis.

4. A map for the essay or preview of how the thesis is proven.

See below for an essay written by one of my former students that exemplifies an outstanding fullfillment of these requirements.

Of Mice and Men by Alex Cariaso (UC Berkeley)

From his seat upon an exercycle, Vladek spins his tale, a tale of terror and endurance during one of the world’s darkest times, a tale of growth and understanding, a tale that is in fact, Vladk’s history. It is a history spanning two volumes, Maus I: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began, volumes written by Vladek’s own son, author and artist Art Spiegelman. But words alone do not recount Vladek’s past. Spiegelman documents his father’s story in a form unlike much of what was seen at the time, chronicling Vladek’s horrific tale of survival in Auschwitz during the Holocaust with both words and images, a form known as the graphic novel. As such, the novel as a whole recounts both mentally and visually Vladek’s past; in addition, each page is developed as an entity unto itself, carefully constructed to stand alone. Through his deliberate choice of placement and design, of image choice and wording, Spiegelman meticulously crafts page eighty-two of Maus II to do just that: stand alone, artfully representing the Germans’ utter dehumanization of the Jews.

Body Paragraph/s

This/these paragraph/s should account for the bulk of the essay and include the evidence that supports your clear thesis.

Good Body Paragraph/s Should Include:

1. A topic sentence.

2. Background or set up for evidence or specific instances as needed.

2. Specific/s to support your essay as required (quotes, instances, examples).

3. Analysis of each evidence to interpret it and link it back to the thesis.

Of Mice and Men (Continued)

Spiegelman has stated that each page of his novels is like a paragraph with each panel relating to one theme that the page as a whole conveys. Page eighty-two of his second volume is a page filled with much cross-hatching and is, on the whole, one of the darker pages in the book, representing one of the darker pages of Vladek’s past. At this particular moment of the story, the Allied front is moving ever closer, causing alarm in the Nazi guards and hope in the prisoners. However, rumors are circulating that the Germans are going to relocate all of the Jewish prisoners back to Germany, and the Jews are hurriedly evacuated out of Auschwitz by way of a death march. The page opens up with a horizontal panel of only the moving feet of the Jews and their German guards while Vladek narrates the scene. As the prisoners march through the freezing cold, all those who were unable to keep up are shot on sight, and one such incident is the focus of page eighty-two. On the ground sits a prisoner unable to keep up with his fellow Jews and unable to escape the eyes of the Nazi guard who, upon spying the seated prisoner, aims his rifle and shoots. As the body lay convulsing in the snow, Vladek’s narrating voice, depicted by the words outside of the panels, draws attention to the resemblance between the figure of the shot prisoner and that of a killed dog, which is depicted in an adjacent panel. The page then closes with another long, horizontal panel of the walking feet of the prisoners and their guards.


Concluding Paragraph

Your concluding paragraph gives you an opportunity to summarize your thesis and arguments and to broaden out your ideas to show your increased understanding and insight into the topic. This provides the reader with a reitteration of what you have shown them and then any additional thoughts that you want them to take away from the piece.

A Strong Conclusion Includes:

1. Restatement of thesis. (Restating not Repeating)

2. Restatement of major sub-points.

3. Final thoughts - a broadening out into larger ideas as they relate to the literature or life.

Of Mice and Men Conclusion (several body paragraphs being omitted)

Spiegelman has stated that he made conscious, deliberate choices as he drew and developed each page of Maus, accounting for even each sixteenth of a page. That attention to detail, while glossed over initially, adds a depth to Vladek’s story that is difficult to pinpoint until the each specific page is analyzed closely. On each individual page, Spiegelman made conscious decisions as he carefully crafted each page to contribute to the greater goal of immortalizing Vladek’s history. But not only does each page serve that greater goal; each also stands apart from the whole, communicating an idea of its own. In the case of page eighty-two of Maus II, that idea was dehumanization. By utilizing icons he established as well as those culturally established, leaving certain narratives to be told by the pictures alone, and employing various other methods, Spiegelman depicts for the first time in his novels the dehumanization of the Jews by the Germans. It is a mature idea that Spiegelman successfully conveys in a graphic novel, a medium conventionally reserved for children. His feat, however, is hardly childlike and nothing short of great.

Great thanks to Alex for permitting me the use of her paper.

Here is Ms. Cariaso's entire essay. Please consider reading it as a great example of essay writing.