Essay One (e1)

Testing Berger

I’d like you to write an essay of about 1500 words in which you test the current uses of one of the ideas from John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. To do so, I’d like you to find at least three or four recent texts, examples, that you think can help us see not only how we can draw on Berger’s ideas in understanding our present culture, but that also point to some problems in doing so.  (By recent , let’s say after 2000.)

Imagine that the stance I am asking you take as a writer is yes, but . . . That John-Bergeris, your task here is neither to use your examples to prove that Berger is still clearly right, nor to demonstrate that he now is clearly wrong. Rather, your aim should be to show how, perhaps with some tweaking and revision, you can use one of Berger’s ideas to better understand the texts you are looking at. (Of course, one way of better understanding your examples might be to show how Berger’s ideas do not quite capture what they are about.)

In the end, you will want to have something to say about two different things: (1) the idea from Ways of Seeing you’re working with, and (2) the present-day examples you’re looking at.  Make a point about one of those things, and you’ll have an okay essay; make a point about both, and you’ll have a good one.

I’ll ask you to take this essay through a series of drafts and revisions. I’ll have more to tell you about each of these stages as we come to it, but here is what you should plan for:

  • Tues, 3/04: Post your first draft (e1.d1) to Dropbox.
  • Wed, 3/05: Read and respond to the drafts posted by the other members of your writing group (p3). Workshop these pieces in class.
  • Tues, 3/11: Email me a revising plan, based on the comments you’ve received from your writing group (p4). I will email you back with a brief response.
  • Tues, 3/18: Email me your second draft (e1.d2). I will respond in detail to this draft.
  • Thurs, 3/27: Email me your final draft (e1.d3), which I will grade.

Good luck! I look forward to working with you on this piece.