From the Syllabus Critical essays are expected to synthesize 3-4 of the readings from that unit. These are formal papers in the sense that you develop a thesis and argue it, but they are not conventional research papers because the readings are already provided, thus making it a “critical reflection” rather than a “research paper.” Your thesis should pull a worthy issue from the unit and develop it using unit sources. Exam 1, 100 points each, due by Saturday midnight, September 14.

From the Syllabus: Critical essays are expected to synthesize 3-4 of the readings from that unit. These are formal papers in the sense that you develop a thesis and argue it, but they are not conventional research papers because the readings are already provided, thus making it a “critical reflection” rather than a “research paper.” Your thesis should pull a worthy issue from the unit and develop it using unit sources.

Exam 1, 100 points each, due by Saturday midnight, September 14.

You have 100 points to distribute among three questions. You may divide them equally or you may give primary weight to one of the questions. No single question can be worth fewer than 20 points. You are tasked with generating 8-10 pages of text (2,500-3,500) words, not including Works Cited pages. Double-space. Post your exam (all answers in one document) in the Exams link in Word (no PDFs).


As a “critical reflection,” your essay answers should not read like a breezy journal entry, but instead should include a solid interpretation or analysis.

In any given answer, please do not use more than 2-4 sources—2 if you have a short (20-point) answer, maybe one more for longer answers—and be sure to put them in conversation with each other (what I mean by that is that you are showing connections and points of departure; maybe this one takes a point further or in a different direction; maybe another writer offers a different solution to the same dilemma). In other words, don’t just cite for citing’s sake. Show you know what the writer’s work entails and that you are not merely plopping in a quote for the purpose of meeting a requirement or emphasizing what you believe, though quotes may augment, sharpen, deepen, and/or resonate with your own thinking. For this reason, fewer sources is often better— 2 articles carefully placed together to explore a compelling issue often mean more than 4+ that you can do less with, given the constraints of time and space. The emphasis should be on your own thinking.

In addition to class materials, you may use one or two additional scholarly sources to further explore the “unfinished business” of the unit; however, I am content if your answers draw only on class-assigned materials. If you do incorporate this outside source, your emphasis is on linking the essays or articles in the class, offering a synthesis of your chosen sources, as a means to clarify something that is complex or profound or disturbing or in some other way significant in that unit.


I’m looking for evidence of the following:

•Depth of thinking—this includes the range of discussion and the attention to nuance and detail (too much range = too little specificity). Worry less about being right than grappling with contradiction and nuance. Are you satisfied with one “for instance” to back up a claim? Or do you demand more of yourself, attend to differences, conundrums?

•Attention to the readings—this is paramount. Personal experience should augment, not drive the critical reflection (in the same way Ahmed uses her own experience—it helps ground her work in lived experience, but the dominant purpose is to theorize from experience to larger concerns.

•Synthesis—you have put the authors into conversation with you. Your thinking takes precedence, and the sources are integrated. Other writers’ work is appropriately characterized and linkages and/or distinctions shown.

•Originality—you’re not just rehearsing what you said in Db, but stretching to go further, take risks.

•Organization and attention to your thesis paragraph and paragraph organization: you deliver what your thesis paragraph suggests you will. This doesn’t mean you have to say, “In this paper, I will do x, y, and z.” I refer to that as a game plan, not a thesis statement, and if you write your thesis paragraph well, there’s no need for a your game plan. . . .

This also means that your paper doesn’t go off over there, to Alaska, when you pretty clearly said you were interested in Alabama.

Style and Mechanics

•Writing: this includes how you say it.

oAvoid repeating yourself. Once is enough if you’ve said it clearly. o Get rid of piles of adjectives and adverbs.
o Strike out the passive voice when it’s appropriate to do so, which it usually is

(there is, there are, is, are, was, were) and choose instead action verbs that really get at what you want to say.

•Quoting and citing: simply, you follow the guidelines. I don’t want to see “this”, and if you don’t recognize the error, then you haven’t read the Quoting Guidelines.

•You’ve proofread your work, caught those squiggly red and green lines (note: they’re not always right, but usually are).

•Ask before you turn it in if you have any grammar questions.


1.Ahmed: Drawing primarily on Living a Feminist Life, what two central concerns do you think get at the heart of what the title promises? How does Frye’s essay on “Oppression” help?
2.Liberal Feminism: Drawing on the work of Tong and Friedan (or Wollstonecraft, Murray,

Stanton), where do you see the “light” that shines through the liberal feminist perspective? In other words, wherein are the truths that speak to you? What are the dangers or risks therein?

3.Ahmed: In #1 you focused on two of Ahmed’s central concepts or concerns. Now take another approach, either of the following:

a.Consider the toolkit—what are the suggestions that you think are most revolutionary or encouraging of change (don’t repeat Db);
b.Consider Ahmed’s style: the play with words and concepts and contradictions.

What is effective about this style? How does it give us entry into the material in ways that a stodgier or more familiar academic style might offer?

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