“The Other” Paper (Brett Seekford)

ENGL110 : Writing Identities (General Section) – Spring 2020--Brett Seekford - See full syllabus here. 


This paper follows in the vein of the Disruptive Narrative, but this time, you have the opportunity to explore lives and identities outside of your own. In considering people different from us, we are engaging with the philosophical concept of the “Other.” This term was coined by famed philosophers Edmund Husserl and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. These men were associated with the field of phenomenology, which studies the way we process and react to things that we encounter in the world. Their conception of the “Other” describes a person or thing that is alien or foreign to a certain person given their unique background and identity. 


Following the concept of the “Other,” I therefore want you use this paper to study a phenomenon or issue unique to a community you deem “Other.” In doing so, it should be your goal to uncover issues specific to people of certain identities and form an argument about this form of identification for an audience of people like yourself, who are similarly unfamiliar with these issues. 

To successfully complete this assignment, it is again essential that you narrow the scope of your project and adopt a particular focus rather than writing on broad topics. You won’t want to start from the question, “What is it like to be a woman?” Rather, you might study the role of women in the film industry or the historic barriers to the publication of black women’s writing. The range of topics is truly endless, just as it was in your disruptive narratives. Just as was the case with the previous paper: If you can provide justification for studying any community that you want to know more about, use your proposal to defend your choice.


Since your topic will be largely unfamiliar to you, extensive research will be necessary. For this paper, you need at least three scholarly, peer-reviewed academic sources, although you will likely want to incorporate a few more texts as well. In that vein, after you’ve satisfied the scholarly research requirement, feel free to consult an array of nonscholarly sources, ranging from newspaper articles to credible blogposts or tweets. I would dissuade you from using more than ten sources in this paper. After all, you should be engaging meaningfully with each source, and an extensive bibliography of outside voices can be difficult to incorporate without distracting from your original argument.

Other than the change in prompt and number of required sources, the other major requirement for this paper is that you use secondary sources more strategically and synthesize them throughout your writing, a practice we will explore at length in class. Therefore, academic synthesis—in addition to argumentation, organization, and source use—will be the fourth major component of your grade with this paper. As you will see, it is incredibly important to use a range of sources that support, complicate, and even expand your main idea. For more information, a loose grading rubric can be found below.

As always, while your sources should inform your argument, they should not dominate. I understand the balance between asserting your voice and allowing your sources to take over is difficult. For that reason, your papers will undergo several stages of drafting and even a week of in-class revision stations to ensure your sources are being used in service of your point of view. This time will be productive, and I hope you use these opportunities to collaborate with both me and your peers to create truly exciting research papers. Consider these papers to be your entry point into academic writing. They will prove challenging, but I encourage you to use them to explore and expand both your interests and worldview.

Below, you can find a list of scaffolded assignments and due dates, a breakdown of the final grade, a checklist of requirements for this assignment, and a basic rubric laying out my expectations.

Length: 8-10 full pages

Proposal Due: Friday, April 10th (via Canvas)

Draft #1 Due: Sunday, April 19th (via Canvas) 

Peer Letters Due: Tuesday, April 28th (via Canvas)

Draft #2 Due: Sunday, May 3rd (via Canvas)

Student-Instructor Conferences:  Tuesday, May 5th – Thursday, May 7th 

(via Zoom)

Final Draft Due: Sunday, May 17th (via Canvas)

Grade Breakdown:

Final Draft 30 points

Peer Letters 10 points

40 points

Checklist of Requirements:

  • A paper proposal describing a paper topic that explores an issue relevant to a community or category of identity with which you do not identify
  • A narrowly framed argument pertaining to an issue or concern associated with the group being addressed as part of the topic
  • Two drafts submitted through Canvas
  • One round of peer letters completed in response to your peers’ first drafts
  • One scheduled conference with your instructor to discuss your progress and second draft
  • Three scholarly, peer-reviewed secondary sources
    • Additional scholarly or nonscholarly sources will likely be needed in addition to this basic requirement. (No more than ten sources.)
  • Meaningful synthesis of sources throughout the paper

Grading Criteria

“A” Paper

  • Incorporates and responds to a range of sources
  • Sources speak to each other consistently and productively without impeding writer’s voice
  • An original, clearly-stated, and focused central argument or claim
  • Organized creatively and effectively
  • Clear demonstration of intensive revision between drafts
  • Polished, concise, and engaging style

“B” Paper

  • Strong use of sources in service of main argument
  • Sources frequently speak to each other and only occasionally overshadow the writer’s voice
  • Clearly-stated and focused central argument or claim guiding paper
  • Organized sensibly and deliberately
  • Revised according to class comments
  • Occasional mechanical errors but consistent voice

“C” Paper

  • Lack of meaningful engagement with sources
  • Sources irregularly speak to each other and suggest a haphazard attempt at synthesis
  • Use of a central claim but lacking in specificity
  • Disjointed organization
  • Halfhearted attempt at revision
  • Prevalent and careless mechanical errors and inconsistent voice

“D” Paper

  • Fails to meet required number of sources or engages little with the ones chosen
  • No coherent level of synthesis
  • No detectable central claim
  • Incoherent organization
  • Little to no revision
  • Ridden with senseless errors and lacking in any distinctive voice