Place Essay

Goal: Write a First Person Essay on Place
Drawing on Rachel Carson’s The Edge of Sea and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction as models, write an 1,500-2,000 word first person essay about a place of your choice before, during, and after ecological threat in order to motivate readers to reconsider and sympathize with the effects of slow violence and unseen, incremental change and inevitable loss of life in the world around them. The specific requirements and composition process are elaborated below.
Step One: Your Place “Before”

Due as a draft posted to the course site by February 9.

In a minimum of 500 words, write about a place that is both important to you and also has a dense network of life. The place you write about can be as big as a national park or as small as your bedroom. It can be a wilderness, a built environment, or something in between. No matter the place you choose, you are requited to describe the place’s networks of life in exacting detail. Let yourself be influenced by the way that Carson describes places in her book–what does the place sound like, what are its dominant colors, how are things that inhabit the space all connected, how can you insert yourself into the narrative description? Do you encourage the reader care about the place you describe?

For full credit, illustrate your post with at least two images.

Step Two:Your Place “During”

Due as a draft posted to the course site on Tuesday, February 16.

In a minimum of 500 words, describe a specific threat that, if allowed to go unchecked, may ruin your place. Think of all of threats to animal life we’ve seen so far this semester, drought, warming, ocean acidification, pollution, etc. No matter the threat you choose, you are requited to describe the threat in detail and explain how it effects your place. What are the specific characteristics of the threat; is it gradual/sudden; who in the place is effected; does the threat cause a chain reaction; is anyone trying to stop it?

Illustrate your post with at least two images.

Step Three: Your Place “After”

Due as a draft posted to the course site on Tuesday, February 21

In a minimum of 500 words, imagine the future of your place if the threat you describe in the paragraph above has come to pass. What does it look like now? What colors, sounds, etc. have changed? Most importantly, what has been lost and how can residents deal with the loss? Refer to Elizabeth Kolbert in this section. How does she frame the loss of species to come?

Illustrate your post with at least two images.

Step Four: Final Draft

Publish to a static page on the course site by Thursday, February 23

Pull all three parts into a coherent whole by adding an introduction, transitions between paragraphs and ideas; and repetition of key terms and phrases.

For full credit, the final draft must be at least 1,500-2,000 words long; published to a static page on the course site; and illustrated with at least four images.

Grading Criteria
  • 1. Do you write about a place and ecosystem before, during, after it was effected by an external threat? Does your essay motivate readers to reconsider and sympathize with ways that slow violence and unseen, incremental will result in the possible loss of the place? Do you encourage readers to care about what happens to the place you describe?  (30%)
  • 2. Is the final draft organized around a main goal and/or through-line, from the introduction to the conclusion? Is the main goal or claim of your essay communicated through transitions between paragraphs and ideas, and the repetition of key terms and phrases? (30%)
  • 3. Is the final draft  1,500-2,000 words long; published to a static page on the course site; and illustrated with at least four images? Are image and text laid out so they reinforce the larger goal of the essay? (15%)
  • 4. Is the essay acceptably free of mechanical errors? (15%)
  • 5. If necessary, do you include a works cited? If necessary, do you include parenthetical citations after in-text citations? If necessary, are your photos linked out to site where you found them? (10%)