Rant of Loud Cars

Rant of Loud Cars

REFLECTIVE RANT ESSAY ASSIGNMENT

Our course readings include several rants, many of which are also reflective in tone and approach: David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech; Kelly’s “When Visiting Washington, Follow These Tips”; Dowd’s “Send in the Clones”; Barry’s “The Idiot’s Guide to Art” and “The Eye of the Beholder”; Brady’s “I Want a Wife”; and Klosterman’s  “George Will vs. Nick Hornby.”

All of these selections serve to explicitly and originally convey annoyances with types of people, events, or situations that plague many of us daily.  By doing so, these selections present arguments from at least two persuasive perspectives. As but one example, Klosterman explores soccer by providing personal experiences, facts and statistics, and a theory about sports that relates to another theory about social outcasts.

Ultimately, by sharing individual life experiences in the contexts of the other and the world, the reflective rant writer looks beyond the self. And, in doing so, the reflective rant writer makes important connections between the self and the other with creativity and power.

Overview

Now it’s your turn. For this assignment, you will select one of your pet peeves and write about it from two perspectives: personal and academic. What does this mean? It may help to think first of a type of person, event, or situation that annoys you. Second, think about why and how that type of person or situation annoys you. Third, think about why and how our society (or even our world!) makes that type of person or situation annoying to many people (i.e., not just annoying to you).

Here’s an example. Perhaps it bothers you when people stand too closely to you. Using the three-step model outlined above, you could provide a narrative (rant!) about why and how this irritates you to a precarious point of rage. You could then add to this narrative by infusing argument and analysis (reflection!) about why and how personal space is defined from one or more substantive perspectives (for instance, you could critically analyze the economics, sociology, or culture of space). Ultimately, your aim is to make some assertions rooted in what that larger, more complex perspective reveals about us as individuals, our perceptions of others, and the various worlds — literal and figurative — that we all inhabit.

Some Guidelines

Purpose and Argument. As the basis of its argument, your essay should present a unique, persuasive perspective about an everyday annoyance. As such, your argument might examine the roots, origins, ramifications, or even the consequences of your selected annoyance. It should not, however, seek to rectify or solve the problem(s) you identify as its main purpose. Ultimately, what you choose to argue, what facts you choose to share, what details you choose to describe, and even the way in which you structure your essay should all serve to do two things: hook your readers and build your argument. In fact, much of the strength of your essay will hinge upon whether you are able to present a credible, authoritative, and thought-provoking argument in a compelling, engaging, and cohesive manner.

Support. Your essay should reveal the considerable engagement with the research that you conducted and collected via the homework assignments and annotated bibliography you completed earlier this term. Your essay should therefore provide evidence that you have not only located appropriate sources but that you have also critically considered how and what these sources contribute to your own argument.

Organization. Most readers expect to understand the purpose (argument) of a work within or soon after the first paragraph. For an essay such as this, you may want to begin with vivid narration that leads your reader to your thesis by the end of your first page (give or take a paragraph!). This will provide the personal context necessary for your overarching academic argument, which must inevitably extend beyond you and your pet peeve.

Audience. Imagine your essay as to be read by a general readership in the United States of America. This readership includes but is not limited to your course professor and peers. Such a readership is diverse with regard to ages, backgrounds, and interests.

 

Style, Point of View, and Tone. An effective essay will hook readers with an engaging narrative style. While the first person point of view may make the most sense, the use of second and third person could also be successful. As far as tone is concerned, there are bound to be slight tone shifts as you blend narration and research. And yet your essay ought to flow in ways that are cohesive overall. Indeed, one of your greatest challenges will involve balancing rant and reflection while also asserting a persuasive claim about your chosen topic.

Some Requirements Specific to this Essay Assignment

The body of the essay should be four to six pages in length. Aim for five pages of essay text and follow that with however many additional pages you may need for your Works Cited list.

Integrate and cite at least six appropriate sources. At minimum, two of these sources should be scholarly or academic in nature.

Some Requirements Specific to All Essay Assignments

Whether explicit or implicit, your essay must present a thought-provoking and ambitious thesis that is (1) evident to your readers, (2) appropriately focused, and (3) debatable.

All readers need and appreciate:

  • Original titles
  • Clear transitions between ideas and also paragraphs
  • Signal phrases that link your ideas to the researched information you provide to support those ideas
  • Conclusions that offer more than mere restatement

Follow the formatting and citation rules of MLA style.

Abide by the due dates for first and second drafts as outlined in the course schedule.

Grading Information

The first and second drafts of your essay will be evaluated and graded by your course professor. The grading rubrics for each assignment (first and second draft) are posted to our Blackboard classroom. Please note that students often receive C-level grades when their work satisfactorily meets the requirements of the assignment. If you are interested in earning a higher grade, you will need to challenge yourself, take risks, opt for the difficult choices, and push your thinking.

Some Final Considerations

No matter what type of persuasive claim you make within your reflective rant, your essay should not present an extended complaint nor should it be entirely fact or research driven. The elements of rant and reflection are equally important; be sure to spend no more than 60% of your essay on one or the other.

The rant elements of your essay should embody many of the qualities outlined within Seidel’s “The Lost Art of the Rant.” You may therefore be “humorous, knowledgeable, a little angry, [and] a little tongue-in-cheek” as you convey your pet peeve with a “passion that has been enflamed by a feeling of powerlessness.” But you can’t stop there. You should also–through an effective use of style and tone–be “artful and entertaining,” theatrical, and even playful so that your readers sense the oral tradition of the rant genre.

The reflective elements of your essay should extend beyond complaint and catharsis to present a new, thought-provoking perspective. If a reader finishes your essay and says, “Wow, I would have never thought about that topic in that way,” then you have achieved some success. To that end, it may help to think of your pet peeve as a symptom of a larger problem. Your reflection, then, becomes your purposeful investigation of this larger problem (why does this problem exist? how and when does the problem occur?). Or you could think of your pet peeve as a rhetorical device–a tool you are using to begin a different (but related) conversation that is larger and perhaps more sophisticated.

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