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*ESSAY RUBRIC BELOW* *I have a ton of additional sources consisting of articles, movies and short films that will be extremely helpful during the writing process. I would rather not attach them all so when I am in contact with my writer, I can provide them with any sources they wish for.*
Writing Assignment I
Overview
For the first unit of the course, we will be exploring how people have imagined space and — in particular  — our encounter with “Mars.”  As we will find, often how we imagine space and space travel (and aliens) reflects back on who we are and how we imagine ourselves.  Our “key question” then for this first assignment is
Question: Would you go to Mars?
Scenario: SpaceX is planning a voyage to Mars in 2025.  You have been chosen through a lottery to go on the trip.  You have 3 choices:
1. Decline the offer.
2. Accept for a  trip to Mars and return (the trip will take 6 to 8 months each way so you will have to commit with training about 2 years).
3. Accept a trip to Mars and live there  in a new colony on Mars (become a Martian).
Now, of course,  you will say — great but at best I can write is a paragraph answer and perhaps stretch it to a page — How am I suppose to write a paper on this topic?
Here is the rub — the bulk of the paper is to explore why you made the choice you made. That is, you will explore your answer as a function of your own history and your history in the context of your culture(s).  So you may think about this in many ways — here are a few suggestions:
1. Is your answer influenced by your consumption of popular culture (novels, TV, and/or movies)?
2. Is your answer influenced by your life experiences (education, family, friends, community)?
3. Do you need to learn more to make a decision — what kinds of sources would help you make your choice? (Give some examples and explain the sources).
4. Is your answer a complex of the suggestions above?
The key is to explore and explain sources.  You may need to interview family and friends.  You may need to go back and look at the kinds of popular culture you have consumed that included space travel.  You  may need to look at sources you may have consumed in the classroom, museums, or other learning experiences.  You may need to find out more about Mars and space travel.  As you think about your sources, you will want to think in larger terms — how does my choice “make sense” within my larger cultural and historical context?
In short, the paper is autobiographical (a self-reflection) — it is your life and your choice —  but you want to see how your life is informed by many sources.
Your answer may come from a childhood experience of camping outside, watching a movie or TV program, or telling scary stories.  Or it may come from your adult experiences of choosing your major, or your favorite video game, or the passions of a friend or of family members.  See prompts below for more ideas.  The idea is to capture your thinking as we start the course.
Instructions
Write a personal reflection (1200 to 1600 words) that captures your answer to the above “Key question.”  In addition to following the guidelines below, you must include at least one required material or one text/media used in class lecture from the course.  We will talk about the many ways you may include this — it may be a jumping off point for your thinking (or an end point) or it may be a counterpoint to your reflection.
You should also think about the following keys to a good personal reflection:
1) Details, details, details, details, details (you get the point — what makes for a good telling of an experience — thoughts, emotions, recollections — are the details).
2) Sources.  Some people believe that because it is my “opinion” or “my” reflection that one does not need sources.  However, as a college student and scholar, “opinion” only matters if you have evidence to support your ideas and beliefs.  Fortunately, for this course, we are looking at all kinds of sources — movies, TV shows, experiences, cultural events, magazine articles, newspaper stories, fiction, interviews, and so on.  Perhaps the most important source for this paper may be a ticket stub from a planetarium visit you did with your mother.
3) Characters.  What often makes our stories most believable is our interactions with others and bringing those other characters to life.  Who is important in your reflection?  It may be you — do we get to know you?
4) Theme.  Often when we are doing a reflection, our thoughts do not always piece together into a clearly stated thesis.  But often a way to hold a reflective piece together is to think in terms of theme (a way of seeing the world, an idea, a feeling that pervades the whole piece).
Prompts (Initial*)
The following prompts may help you to think of ideas for your reflection.  You do not need to use any one of these prompts and we will be adding to the prompts.  If in doubt about your ideas or you need an idea, talk to your instructors or fellow classmates.
1) Does your family have any traditional beliefs that have influenced your thoughts about space and space travel?
2) Do you have a favorite film that deals with space and space travel in some way — What attracts you to the film?
3) Does your major intersect with any aspect of outer space or space exploration?
4) Perhaps you don’t care about space or space travel — but why is it that you don’t care?  Should you? (it is okay not to care)
5) In life, when you need to make a really big decision — what evidence do you pull together?
**NOTE: Prompts are ideas to help you think about possible topics — you do not need to do one unless it works for you
Guidelines (Initial*)
Scale
Exceptional 4.0, Good 3.0, Adequate 2.0, Poor 1.0
INTRODUCTION and CONCLUSION (Background History/Thesis Statement)
There is a well-developed introduction with an attention grabber** that grabs the reader’s interest and continues to engage the reader up until the thesis/theme statement by setting the context for the paper. The thesis/theme* statement should clearly state the central point of your work or give the reader a good sense of your direction. Conclusion should wrap up effectively and re-stress the importance of the thesis.
**This does not mean you need to punch your reader in the face but you do need to give them a sense of what your topic is and why they want to continue reading.
*It is okay in a personal reflection to hold off your point to the end but readers still need to have a sense of where they are going.
Note: Often it is good to revise (or write) your introduction and conclusion last after you figure out what you have said.
MAIN POINTS
(Body Paragraphs)
Well-developed main points/topic sentences that relate directly to the thesis. Supporting examples are concrete and detailed. The analysis is developed with an effective point of view. Uses evidence well (specific sources used and cited).
Be careful: We are not necessarily looking for cookie-cutter essays (5 paragraph themes).  Genres and formats may vary and may include narrative and story-telling elements. Topic sentences may appear at different key places in your paragraphs — the key is to make sense so that your reader understands your work and the development of the piece.
I like to think of a piece of writing as a walk through a forest.  Readers can easily wonder off and get lost (they do not know what is in your head).  So I like to use paragraphs as visual marks along the path and I am try to make sure that each paragraph is on the path and the reader “sees” clear signposts that reminds them of where they have been and where they are going (and how the whole journey is going — you are at mile marker 2 of your 8 mile hike — note how the trees are getting closer together but …).
ORGANIZATION
(Structure and Transitions)
Logical Progression of ideas with a clear structure that enhances the thesis/theme. Transitions are effective and help the reader to navigate your work.  Whether you are using essay form or narrative form (or a mixture), the key is always that a reader can follow what your are doing and make sense of your work.
STYLE
(Sentence Flow, Variety, Diction)
Writing is smooth, skillful, and coherent. Sentences are strong and expressive with varied structure. Diction is consistent and words are well chosen.
MECHANICS
(Spelling, Punctuation, Capitalization)
Punctuation, spelling, and capitalization are all correct. No errors.
Citations
(Chicago, MLA, APA)
You are free to choose one of the following three citation styles: Chicago, MLA, APA (see Purdue OWL for initial help https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/resources.html).  You should cite your sources and always have a works cited or bibliography at the end of your work.  We will talk a good deal about sources and what needs to be cited.  Reminder your instructor is obsessed with sources and formats.
Length
(1200 to 1600 words)
While the length of a paper does not dictate quality is does dictate your focus.  We do not expect –in this class — that you will be able to make (and support) large, sweeping historical or cultural arguments so we do expect you to focus. We will talk a good deal more about possible foci.  Your work should be 1200 to 1600 words in length.  While occasionally your work may go longer (particularly if you get excited about a project — works that fail to meet the minimum word length may be rejected or fail).  If unsure about your project focus, talk to your instructor.

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