Writing

Compare/Contrast Essay

For your next essay, you will choose two of the following texts from Patterns for College Writing:

  • Amy Tan, “Mother Tongue” (466)
  • Sandra Cisneros, “Only Daughter” (111)
  • Martin Gansberg, “Thirty-Eight Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police”
  • Mark Edmundson, “Pink Floyd Night School” (116)
  • Bonnie Smith-Yackel, “My Mother Never Worked” (121)
  • Suzanne Berne, “Ground Zero” (182)
  • Brent Staples, “Just Walk on By” (240)
  • Meghan Daum, “Fame-iness” (511)
  • Gayle Rosenwald Smith, “The Wife-Beater” (516)
  • Paul Rubin, “Environmentalism as Religion” (399)
  • Deborah Tannen, “Sex, Lies, and Conversation” (423)

The purpose of this essay is to use the ideas of one text to enter into conversation with the other – looking for places where they intersect (where we cancompare them) or diverge (where we can contrast them) and developing a discussion from there. Look for distinctions the authors are making. Look for definitions of key terms they’re putting forth or implying or assuming. Finally, give a sense of “what matters” about the conversation.

Your assignment:

Write an essay (1300-1800 words) that compares and contrasts some aspect of two texts. Use key terms/distinctions/strategies/questions being asked to develop a critical analysis of how or where the two authors intersect or differ. The essay should be in MLA format. Refer to pages 109-157 of The Little Seagull Handbook for guidance. Note: Your textbook would be categorized as an Anthology.

Getting Started:

Begin with a question that puts the two texts in conversation and go from there.

Example:

Deborah Tannen takes a sociolinguistic approach to communication styles. How would her discussion of “cross-cultural communication” apply to the dynamic between Sandra Cisneros and her father in “Only Daughter”? Do Tannen’s ideas inform any of the behaviors in “Only Daughter”? Do her ideas fall short somehow?

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