When writing essays, avoid filler. Many college students are still in the habit of introducing essays with a lot of this: “We all know that topic X is [very general definition], and X is really interesting, isn’t it? It’s interesting in a bunch of ways. None of which relate to my thesis.” Instead of this [...]

Rubric, Grading


Rubric, Grading – A rubric is a system for determining whether or not an essay fulfills its prompt—a way of grading essays. Generally, we grade on four big ideas: Thesis – Is your main idea clear and powerful? Can it be proved through research? Does it have the weight of common sense behind it? Evidence [...]


Structuralism - In literary criticism, structuralism links various texts via a big idea about the elements and narrative shapes that are common among them. For example, one structure common to most (but not all) fiction is “a protagonist goes through some type of emotional change.” We can examine how the protagonist varies across genres and styles while [...]

Essay Structure

Essay Structure – Every text has its own beautiful organic structure. These are VERY ROUGH guidelines for a general “academic essay.” Please consider them. They make sense. They can help you, if you are feeling lost. PLANNING 0. Research – what are you going to write about? what evidence supports your idea? (Intermezzo 1. Outlining, brainstorming, [...]