San Diego State University Mentor Text Discussion

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Ask questions that resist simplistic answers

Avoid questions with binary answers (ex. this is good/ this is bad, Yes/no, Innocent/guilty)

Avoid vague or undefined words

Avoid questions that can be answered with traditional research methods 

2)Pick a mentor text ( dont use the links you  can find these on google and if for some reason you can’t I’ll send you the PDF)

What should you do as you read? 

Enjoy the essays. Yes, if you don’t enjoy it, find another essay. 

Think about what the author is doing to build an argument. Think about what the argument is. 

Think about what these very different essays have in common.

What kinds of topics do these essays choose?

What kinds of arguments do the authors make?

What kind of purpose(s) do these essays serve?

How do the authors connect with their audiences?

  • How can you see these common characteristics in the five essays you will have read? (The three you choose here and the two you have already read–Linfor and Koenig.)
  • Take notes if you want. You’ll share what you discover on the discussion board. That way we can kind of crowd-share the ideas you come up with. 
  • By the way, ultimately you will choose one of these essays, Linfor, or Koenig as a mentor text for your personal essay.

Here is the list:

  • James McBride: “Hip Hop Planet.Actions” National Geographic, 2007. (There are no images on this PDF, but the actual version in the magazine has several photos.)
  • Michelle Zaunder: “Crying in H Mart (Links to an external site.).” The New Yorker, 2018.
  • Siddartha Mukherjee: “My Father’s Body, at Rest and in Motion (Links to an external site.).” The New Yorker, 2018.
  • Karla Cornejo Villavicienco Waking Up from the American Dream(Links to an external site.) New York Times Magazine 2021

Harriet Johnson McBride “Unspeakable Conversations (Links to an external site.)” New York Times Magazine 2003

Amanda Machado: “Traveling While Latino (Links to an external site.).” The Atlantic, 2014. 

David Sedaris “Laugh Kookaburra (Links to an external site.)” New Yorker 2009

Paul Graham “HOw to Do What You Love (Links to an external site.)” 2006

Gloria Anzaldua “How to Tame a Wild Tongue (Links to an external site.)” from Borderlands: The New Mestiza 1987

  • Jenny Zhang “The Importance of Angsty Art (Links to an external site.)” The Rookie 2013

Weike Wang “Notes on Work”Actions The New Yorker 2022

Wesley Morris “The Power of Good CryActions” New York Times Magazine 2022

Anna Schechtman “Escaping into the Crossword PuzzleActions” New Yorker 2021

Roger Angell “Early Innings: Boyhood Memories of BaseballActions” New Yorker 1992

you will publish the essay in a magazine that publishes personal essays

Directions Simplified 

What is your inquiry question? What is your answer?

What is your mentor text? Please note this must be one of the provided mentor texts.

Mentor Text General Observations: Create a list of at least five key features (use of evidence, rhetorical strategies, Reid strategies, organizational patterns, appeals) in your mentor text. For each one you name, answer the following questions: 1) How did you incorporate this into your paper? Be specific, pointing to specific things in the text. 2) Were there any you chose not to include? Why?

What magazine did you publish your essay in? (Please note that this must be a magazine which publishes personal essays.) (Please include a hyperlink to your magazine website.)

Based on who might read this magazine, who is your primary audience for this essay? Based on who reads this magazine, what do you assume this author believes about your topics? How did you appeal specifically to that audience?

  • What are you most proud of in this essay? Be specific. 

What were your greatest challenges in drafting this essay? Be specific.  

What rhetorical strategies did you use in this essay? What appeals did you hope this would evoke in your audience? Appeals and strategies are NOT the same thing. 

Think back to the Reid strategies you wanted to focus on or the things you indicated you wanted to work on in this course? Name them. For each one, evaluate how successful you were in developing that strategy and why.

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