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ENG 101 Composition - A. Shaw

The American Dream

 Prof. Amy Shaw

English 101 – Fall 2019

Essay #2 Assignment: The American Dream

20% of final grade


Texts and Authors: “American Dream? Or Mirage?” (Kraus et al.); “Crumbling American Dreams” (Putnam); “Freedom Is Why Immigrants Come to America” (Eberling); one outside source of your choice.  

Length: Minimum 1000 words (not including heading and Works Cited). 1000 words is about 3-4 double-spaced pages.

Due Dates: The rough draft is due Friday, 10/25 at 11:59 PM on Blackboard. If you would like comments on paper, please bring a printed copy to class on Monday, 10/28. The final draft is due Wednesday, 11/6 at 11:59 PM on Blackboard only. Please note these are different (later) due dates than what is on the class schedule.

Prompt: The American Dream today encompasses everything from political and religious freedom to equal access to education to equal opportunity in the workplace. For immigrants, particularly those escaping difficult or even dangerous conditions in their native countries, the dream has also meant political and religious freedom, freedom from discrimination and persecution, and a guarantee of safety. For generations, it has also meant the possibility of upward mobility, financial success, and eventually economic prosperity.

However, for many Americans today, burdened by student loans, mortgage debt, medical bills, and unemployment, the dream can seem elusive. Middle-class wages are stagnating while the very rich get richer, and many feel they can no longer hope for a financially secure retirement.

Still, we pursue the American Dream. For some, this pursuit means struggling to overcome their status as newcomers or outsiders; to fit in, to belong, to be accepted. For many others, it means the chance to reinvent themselves—the opportunity to become someone different, someone better.

Using at least two sources from this group of readings—one from class, and one you find on your own—write an essay that answers the question, “Is the American Dream still attainable?” 

Use of Evidence in the Essay: You are required to cite at least two sources: one must be from class, and one must be a source you locate on your own. You may cite more than two sources if you wish. Unlike Essay 1, in this paper, each body paragraph needs to have only one citation but can have up to two citations, if you wish. All material from the texts should be carefully selected, properly contextualized and introduced beforehand, and commented upon afterwards.

Use of MLA in the Essay: Essays should be formatted according to MLA style. All quotations and paraphrases should be properly cited according to MLA rules, and all texts should be cited on a Works Cited page, properly formatted in MLA style. A link to the Purdue OWL website, a resource for MLA, is posted in the syllabus and on Blackboard.

Grammar / Correctness: Your writing should be formal and clear, and your essay should contain few errors.

You should strive for less than one error per page. Below are a few other “rules” to keep in mind as you write:

  • Do not use the first person (“I” or “we” or “our”) Exception: You may use first person if you are writing about a personal experience.
  • Do not use the second person (“you,” “your”).
  • Avoid contractions (don’t, wouldn’t, isn’t) and instead write out the words (do not, would not, is not).
  • Follow all other principles of formal writing given in class. Refer to Conventions handout.

Does grammar “count” when I grade your writing? Yes: grammatically correct prose is a sign of all strong writing. If I identify a grammatical problem in your writing—for instance, run-on sentences—you will need to consult grammar websites or schedule an appointment with a tutor if necessary. If you have good ideas but you cannot clearly convey them, your grade will suffer. Papers with extensive sentence boundary issues (fragments, run-ons) or excessive typos will not earn a passing grade.

Grading Criteria: The following issues will automatically earn you a non-passing grade (C- or lower):

  • Extensive sentence boundary issues (3 or more sentence fragments and/or run-ons).
  • Grammatical problems of any kind that significantly impede the reader’s comprehension. I do not expect perfection; however, if I cannot understand what you are trying to say due to grammar, mechanics, and clarity issues, the paper will not pass.
  • Short of 1000-word length requirement.
  • Failure to include in-text citations and/or Works Cited page.

Failure to follow assignment format and submission procedures. If your paper is not uploaded in .docx to Blackboard, it cannot pass.