WRT 105: Jumpstart Essay

Home | Syllabus | Course Schedule | Links
Projects: Jumpstart | Analysis | Argument

WRT 105
Fall 2004
Unit 1 Assignment Sheet

Unit Readings: David Sibley, Intro to Geographies of Exclusion, CEWT, pp. 499-508
Aman Luthra "(Un)straightening the SU landscape"
Excerpts from chapter 2 in Writing Analytically-"Noticing: Learning to


Think back to your first encounters with Syracuse University: a Fall Friday visit with your parents, perhaps, or a weekend with an older brother or sister already here, or the promotional brochures you received in the mail, or surfing SU's website.

As in any first meeting, you jumped to conclusions, made comparisons, judged the architecture and greenery and layout of the campus, liked or didn't like the student guide, liked or didn't like others on your tour. You also had questions - what are classes like? how hard will they be? is it really a party school? will I get to pick my dorm? will I be happy here? will I fit in? is this the right place for me? how do I know?

Then you arrived on opening weekend, and amid the chaos of meeting your roommates, getting unpacked, figuring out your schedule, locating classroom buildings, going to a party or two, you reached more conclusions. You started to feel at ease (or not), to make friends (or at least find a group to go to dinner with), and to form a deeper understanding of this place. You started to notice too places where you felt more comfortable or more invited or safer than other places - that is, as always, you noticed the geographies of inclusion and exclusion.

Imagine how much those feelings and understandings will deepen over the four years you are here!

Writing Assignment

"The geography of a campus and the architecture of its buildings, then, are projections or products of a prevailing imagination, and in turn, they help to reproduce imagination (assumptions about what is good and bad, what should be done, what can be done, and how things should be carried out)"
Johnathon Mauk, College English, "Location, Location, Location"

For now, and for this first essay, you will explore the geography of SU - its buildings, its layout, its social atmospheres, its patterns of inclusion and exclusion - as a first year student, new to the campus, ever changing in your perceptions. For example

  • You might study your dining hall at different times of the day and when you are alone and when you are with a group.
  • You might contrast large and small classes, or classes that are only first year students and those with a more mixed constituency.
  • You might look at how interactions occur across gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and ability among students in class, in dorms, in recreation areas, on the quad, etc.
  • You might trace the walking paths you have already developed as you move through your days and nights.
  • You might look at the architecture in terms of power - which buildings seem more important - how do you recognize that?
  • You might consider the hypothesis the library is a 'non-place' - that is, a transition space, a space that students and faculty move through as they get books or find references or use the computers - and compare that with other possible non-places.
  • You might compare and contrast images of SU from its promotional brochures and/or online materials with what you have already seen in dorms and classrooms.
  • You might examine the layout of sidewalks, parking lots, stairways, elevators, etc. for assumptions about movement and access to various areas on campus.
  • You might analyze "authorized" and "unauthorized" writing spaces on campus for how they reflect and/or reinforce explicit and implicit rules (what can or can't be written or "said") of particular spaces.
  • You might analyze how your dorm RA produces a particular kind of place with his or her bulletin boards and activities.
  • You might investigate the 'architecture' of the liberal arts core curriculum and analyze what it tells you about the practices and knowledges that SU values.
  • You might explore where first year students feel at 'home' and how that happens and why.

In class you will read and discuss an excerpt from the "Introduction" to Geographies of Exclusion by David Sibley, and an essay by a SU graduate student, "(Un)straightening the SU landscape."

You will invent ideas for your essay - that is, you will make observations, write descriptions, tell stories, look for patterns, and draw conclusions - by doing a number exercises in class and as homework. Feel free to visit the Writing Center (HBC) to discuss your ideas with a consultant, or for response, feedback, and advice on a draft.

You will draft the essay (5 double-spaced pages, word processed, 12 point font) and submit it on September 17.

WRT 105: Grading Cues Essay #1 (Geographies of Exclusion)

[1] Did the writer provide a title that provocatively and productively focused the reader's attention?

[2] Did the writer organize the essay effectively, with a focusing idea, thesis, or umbrella claim, and with good transitions between sections?

[3] Did the writer provide a rich, detailed description of the site, or recreation of the interview, or narrative of the key event?

[4] Did the writer develop claims about the kind of 'place' SU is - at least from the perspective of a first year student?

[5] Did the writer make connections between theory and observation by citing Sibley?

[6] Did the writer make things explicit (e.g., details, not generalizations; claims, not clichés)?

[7] Did the writer edit for grammar, style, and usage effectively?