– Midnight Rising Essay Prompt

Midnight Rising Essay Prompt

For this assignment I need to write a 4-6 page essay on the following prompt:

Maniacal Mad Terrorist or Martyr? / Servant, Soldier, or Slayer? Delineate evidence throughout the book for John Brown and Robert E. Lee. Define the positive model of the 19th century American male. Compare and contrast the character and actions of Brown and Lee to that 19th century model and each man to the other. Then on evidence, form an informed opinion and choose.

Do not try to write this essay if you have not read the book in its entirety. I will grade your essay based on its clarity, organization, content, and mechanics. It must exhibit correct spelling and grammar, and must be written at a collegiate level. 

Your paper must be in Times New Roman size 12 font and double-spaced. You should have 1-inch margins on all sides of the paper. Page numbers should be centered in the footer.

Here are some helpful tips for your paper-
1) Your paper must have an argument. This argument should be clearly stated in the introductory paragraph. An argument offers an explanation to a question, not just a general statement. For example: Writing history papers is stupid may be your firm belief, but it is a general statement and not an argument. Something better would be Writing history papers is stupid because I always wait until the last minute, I never complete the reading assignments on time, and I always got As in high school- so why should I put any effort into this paper. This is an argument because it offers three explanations for why this imaginary student dislikes writing history papers (although I sense it will be a failing paper.)
2) Once you have a clearly stated argument, the rest of your paper should present the most relevant evidence in support of that argument- not just information from the first half of the chapter or the shortest documents. You want to persuade your reader that your argument is the most convincing explanation to a particular question.
3) Express your ideas, explain your evidence, then analyze that evidence in careful detail. Do not assume that I know what you intend to say- be sure you write exactly what you intend to say. Do not leave your reader guessing. If I spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what you are trying to say, that is not a good sign. Clarity is one of your best friends.
4) Organize your paper so that it develops in some coherent fashion. Do not simply discuss issues because you are currently reading that particular piece of evidence. A stream of consciousness is no form of organization. If your paper is so confusing that it takes me longer to read than took you to write, that is also not a good sign. 
5) All paragraphs should begin with a strong topic sentence that lets the reader know exactly what that particular paragraph will discuss. Then, each sentence in that paragraph should focus on that topic sentence. If you have any sentences that do not deal with the topic sentence, they should not be in the paragraph. You should be able to read each paragraphs topic sentence and see the logical progression of the paper.
6) The concluding paragraph should summarize the argument and the supporting evidence- but it should not simply repeat the introductory paragraph. Many times, students do not even include the concluding paragraph, so the reader is left guessing.  This is a bad idea your paper must have a concluding paragraph.
7) Avoid the use of the Passive Voice. Whenever you see the verb to be (was, were), rewrite the sentence to avoid the passive voice. For example: The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson is passive voice because the subject (TJ) is after the verb (to write). Most passive voice sentences can easily be fixed: Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. This is active voice because the person doing the action (TJ) is the subject of the sentence. Writing in the active voice makes sentences much clearer and does not bog down the paper in convoluted statements. 
Another form of passive voice involves sentences that do not clarify the person doing the action. For example: My tuition will be raised 25-30% is passive voice because we do not know who is responsible for raising tuition. A better, more clear, statement would be: As a result of the state budget crisis, the Board of Regents will raise my tuition 25-30%. Now we know who is responsible for the action. 
8) Avoid long quotations or repetitive use of quotations. While short and relevant quotes can go a long way to help the paper, be sure that you are doing the writing and not letting the quotes write the paper for you. 
9) You must use footnotes/endnotes for any quotes. Your paper will be deducted if you do not cite your evidence, or if you use parenthetical references- such as (Wheeler and Becker, 108). Please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style for information on footnotes. If you have questions about footnotes or CMS please ask before it is too late.
10) Your paper must be your own ideas written in your own words. If you take information from any source, including the internet or another student, and claim it to be your own, you are guilty of plagiarism, and you will be turned over to the dean for investigation. You will receive a 0 for this paper. This also can lead to academic suspension. Do not risk it- just come up with your own ideas and express them in your own words- it is not that difficult. In addition, the use of any outside sources will result in a failing grade.
11) Do not wait until the last minute. Coming up with an argument and finding relevant evidence takes time. If you wait until the last minute you will produce a poor paper and earn a poor grade. Students always tell me they write better when under the pressure of a deadline. You do not write better, you only write faster.
12) Finally, it is impossible to produce a good paper in the first draft. You must reread and revise drafts to ensure that the argument is clearly stated, all of the best evidence is explained and analyzed, paragraphs stay focused, the paper develops in a coherent fashion, sentences are consistently written in the past tense and active voice, and you have a conclusion that summarizes your argument and the supporting evidence without simply repeating the introductory paragraph. If you submit only a first draft, you should expect a grade that reflects your lack of effort.
13) Your paper must be the appropriate length (4-6 pages, 12 point font), not too long and not too short. An appropriate title, or title page, should be at the beginning of the paper, but do not include unnecessary spaces at the heading of the paper or fancy fonts to stretch the length. Do not include I believe or other use of your own voice- its your paper, we know it is what you believe.