Read Jessica Mitford’s “Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain.” Once you have finished reading Mitford’s argument against embalming and the funeral industry that supports that practice, write an argumentative essay of your own that addresses some of the following questions:
- What do you make of Mitford’s choice of words?
- Why does Mitford rely so heavily on quotations? Does the evidence she presents strengthen or weaken her argument?
- How does Mitford acknowledge opinions that differ from her own? Is her treatment of these other opinions fair?
- How does Mitford’s use of sarcasm and humour affect her argument against embalming?
Remember that your job is to evaluate the effectiveness of the rhetorical techniques Mitford uses to make her case against embalming, not to discuss the legality of embalming or its ethics. In fact, for the purposes of this essay, your own personal beliefs about embalming and your knowledge of its legality in contemporary Canada are irrelevant. Also, do not simply answer the questions above in list format; use the questions, instead, to develop a coherent argument of your own.
While writing your essay, please keep in mind that this is not a research paper and that you should not use any secondary sources. The most successful essays will construct an argument from a precisely defined thesis and engage closely with the text. If your thesis is too broad or vague, you will only be able to treat it superficially in your argument, which will not make for a successful paper. What is expected is a thoughtful analysis of Mitford’s rhetorical techniques supported by a clear and well-structured argument of your own devising.
Your essay should be no more than 750 words and must be in proper MLA format, including parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page. Do not exceed or fall short of the word limit by more than 75 words. In your essay, you must use at least three quotations.
The final printed copy of your essay must be double-spaced, typed in 12-point Times New Roman or 11-point Calibri font, and printed on regular letter-size paper (8.5” x 11”). Do not enclose the paper in a folder of any kind. Only an essay stapled once in the upper left-hand corner will be accepted.
Process and Deadlines
- On February 2nd, you must bring a complete typed draft of your essay to class for peer review. Please make 3 copiesof your essay: two for your reviewers and one for me. If you miss the peer review workshop or do not complete the required work, your absence will be counted against your participation grade. If you are excused from class on the day of the peer review workshop, you must contact me in advance to arrange an alternative form of peer review.
- On February 9th, submit the final, revised version of your essay in class. Please retain a copy of your peer review drafts as I may ask you to submit them as well.
Your essay should
- Make an argument about the text and not just summarize it
- Support its argument with effectively chosen textual evidence
- Identify and discuss the text’s larger concerns
- Be organized logically
- Not include any stylistic or grammatical errors
- Be formatted correctly in MLA style
Essay 1 is worth 20% of your final grade in this course.
Note that plagiarism will not be tolerated and that all suspected cases of academic dishonesty will be forwarded to the Associate Dean, who will determine the appropriate penalty.