Essay 3 – Report on Gender and Conversation

Fall, 2014
Instructor: Prof. Mitchell Smith

Essay #3 Instruction Sheet

Length: 3-4 pages, approximately 750-1000 words

Due Date: Thursday, Sept 25, 2014

Prompt: The prompt, or issue, for this assignment asks the question: “Which of the two essays we have read would be most helpful to newly married couples attending a marriage guidance class?”

So, imagining yourself as a consultant, you will write a report indicating which of the essays we have read, “His Talk, Her Talk” by Joyce Maynard and “Man to Man, Woman to Woman” by Mark A. Sherman and Adelaide Hass, would be most helpful to newly married couples attending a marriage guidance class. This prompt is also described more fully on page 29 of Texts and Contexts.

You must use some brief quotations in your compare & contrast, so make sure to use MLA in-text citations. You are also required to include an MLA works cited page.

Purpose: This is a compare and contrast essay, so your main purpose will be to inform the reader of the strengths and weaknesses of the source essays. Your opinion is welcomed and required!

Audience: In this case, imagine writing your paper for the facilitator or teacher of the marriage guidance class. Keep in mind that the teacher will not have read either of the essays, so you will need to summarize them.

Essay structure: The essay should have an identifiable Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. The short Introduction should introduce the general problem (issue) of male-female communication and state your thesis (the decision on which essay is more appropriate). It should also identify the hypothetical motivation for this essay: the marriage guidance class. The Body should briefly summarize the two essays briefly and then compare and contrast several of their strengths and weaknesses (with one point of comparison per paragraph and a minimum of three points of comparison in the essay as a whole), concluding with a recommendation of one essay over the other.

Paragraph structure: While we have not discussed paragraph structure in great depth yet, a couple points have been established. For academic papers, it is most useful to place Topic Sentences (TS) at the beginning of the paragraph so the reader knows what you will be talking about and what you have to say about it. For this paper, each TS in the body of the essay would need to either summarize the essays’ main points or make a point of comparison between the two source essays. It should not be a simple statement of fact but an assertion based on several facts.

Sentence structure: By this point we have studied strategies for shaping sentences with adjectives, verb forms, and prepositional phrases. Include sentences that use such sentences, cutting out “deadwood” and choppy, repetitive phrases.

Essay Format: Use the correct MLA manuscript format (the sample page will remain posted on the course webpage and can be found in your text Hacker). Highlights include:

  • All essays must be typed and double-spaced
  • Margins must be 1-inch on all sides of the page
  • Use 12 point Courier or Times font (personal preference discussed in class)
  • Each essay should have your name, professor name (“Professor Smith”), course number (English 96 plus section number), and date at the top left corner of the first page
  • The title (not underlined or italicized or in quotes) should be centered above the first paragraph
  • Double underline your Thesis Statement
  • Single underline your Topic Sentences

Usage Errors: This is your third essay, and usage errors will impact your grade. You may make up to two errors per page without a penalty. More than that will result in a grade of NP (not passing) and a required revision. Beyond basic grammar and spelling skills that incoming 96 students are expected to know, you will not be held responsible for grammar issues that we have not yet covered in the course. You will be responsible for rules about the following in your essay:

  • Correct spelling and word choice
  • Sentence Fragments
  • Run-Together Sentences
  • Basic Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Homonym errors
  • Capitalization
  • Conjunctive adverbs, transitional phrases, and subordinating conjunctions
  • Apostrophes and Possessives
  • Punctuation of Titles
  • Quotations and Quotation marks

As we write more essays and cover more sentence development elements, your responsibilities will increase.

Steps: Your pre-writings for this essay will include:

  • Thesis statements for both essays (class discussion only)
  • Points of Comparison Grid (due 9/16)
  • Outline (due 9/18)
  • Rough Draft (due 9/23)
  • Peer review (in class 9/23)
  • Final Draft (due 9/25)

Sample Points of Comparison Grid:


1. Tone…….humorous………relaxed serious, scientific



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