Formal Paper  Four

Title: Technology and the Personal

First draft due: November 5
Second draft due: November 19

Objectives:  argument; voice

Audience: educated readers


  1. Write a manifesto about being human in the 21st century.
  2. Analyze another common technology myth (for example, creation and birth; the last human; the warrior machine; the sex machine; the mentoring, guiding machine)
  3. Make an argument for or against legal limits on some technologies.
  4. Write a SPECULATIVE ESSAY that attempts to make sense of  some aspect of your experience with technology
If you have another great idea that you think would fit the tenor of this unit, you must talk to me about it.

You'll need to meet briefly with me to discuss your topic.  We'll set aside class time on November 1 to do so.

Length: 5-6 pages or more

Points: 150

Sources: For options 1-3, at least two credible, scholarly sources are expected, not sources we've read for class. All sources should be cited in a bibliography at the end of the paper. For options 1-3, in-text citation is expected, but not for option 4.

Commentary: For every formal paper, a one-page commentary on the process you went through as you completed the first draft is required. This commentary is NOT included in the page length requirement.

What is a speculative essay?
A speculative essay is an essay which uses personal experience, detail, and speculative reasoning to present what the author thinks are truths about the world around her/him. The best example from class is Ullman's "The Museum of Me". 

This type of essay aims to speculate about a personal event or experience of the essay author. The main condition is that it has to be a certain personal experience on which the author has his/her very own perception. This experience or even is revealed in the essay in order to demonstrate its importance for understanding social relations and the essence of people. It may be said that a speculative essay possesses the traits of a philosophical analysis of different experiences we face in our everyday life. This type of essay reveals the creativity of the writer and his/her ability to change standard perception to a unique one, to his/her own unique perception of social issues.

There isn't a clear structure to a speculative essay, but it's likely that you would begin with a compelling story or anecdote to engage the reader.  The middle part of the essay will make some observations or claims about human psychology or society, using again vivid personal details to illustrate or explain those observations/claims. The conclusion may end with a telling observation, another anecdote/story, a return to the "hook" used in the opening, a particularly good quote, etc. The style is informal but probably not conversational--which means using I and contractions ("can't), but not using excessive slang.