ENG 250 UNESSAY

Jannis Andrija Schnitzer, “Creative,” https://flic.kr/p/9hcAZ3

Why Am I Writing This?

  • ENG 250 Objectives #1-4

Due Dates & Submission Method:

  • Proposal due in Drive folder by Friday, July 26th
  • Lab/Conferences on July 29, draft of Creator’s Statement due by end of class for revisions/feedback
  • Presentations on July 31

Quick Run-Down:

  • Creative component
  • Creator’s Statement explaining your process & links to course content and research
  • Worth 20% of course grade

What is an Unessay?[1]

The Unessay asks you to think outside the box and respond to a work or multiple works of literature we have read together this semester, bringing your own interests and skills to the project. So what does this mean, exactly?

You choose your own topic. The Unessay allows you to write about anything you want provided you are able to associate your topic with the literature we encountered. You can take any approach; you still need to use secondary sources, but you don’t need to write a “traditional” research essay (though you can certainly do so, if you wish). The only requirements are that your treatment of the topic be compelling: that is to say presented in a way that leaves the reader thinking that you are being accurate, interesting, and complete in your thinking.

You choose the format. You may choose to write a brilliantly concise and beautifully written 1,000 word essay or its creative equivalent, such as a poem, a work of art, a song, a playlist, a creative retelling, fan fiction, a graphic narrative/comic, a music video (or parody), a game, a podcast, interviews, a documentary: the options are endless, limited only by your own creativity and commitment.

The Process

The Proposal: due by Friday July 26

The Creator’s Statement: due by end of class on July 29 for feedback/revisions, final draft due July 30

You will submit a short paper that explains and interprets your Unessay, discussing your process and how you arrived at the idea (1-2 pages, so 400+ words). If you choose to write a traditional research essay, you will hand in your draft (wherever you are in that process), and no creator’s statement is necessary. You should clearly link your work to the literature we encountered in class, and the ideas/interpretations offered up in at least two secondary sources. Since you are explaining your own work, you should feel free to use “I” and position yourself in the paper.

The Presentation: In class on July 30

You will present and share your Unessay with the class. You can choose to simply display and talk through your work, play/project something, create a PowerPoint — it’s entirely up to you. The presentation should be under 5 minutes, and should explain your project and your influences (much like you did in your Creator’s Statement).

Grading Criteria

An Exceptional Unessay (A-B): This Unessay displays a critical and active engagement with the course readings, discussions, and related research. It shows insight and creativity and demonstrates time and effort devoted to creating something thoughtful —  and represents the energy and performance expected for a final course project that culminates our learning and is worth 20% of the course grade. The chosen medium works persuasively and fits with the concept/idea being explored. It is a compelling project. The creator’s statement and the presentation clearly articulate the student’s process. All deadlines were met, including the first draft deadline for the statement, and revisions were made to the statement and/or project based on feedback. An A is a truly superlative Unessay, that shows an immense amount of engagement, creativity, and thoughtfulness.

A Passing Unessay (C): This Unessay displays some engagement with the course readings, discussions, and related research. There might be some gaps in the creative or design elements, and the project could have used some more forethought and planning. Connections might be vague at times, and/or somewhat superficial, not delving as deeply into the course materials or discussions. The proposal was submitted, but the Creator’s Statement was not submitted on July 29, and/or student did not complete suggested revisions on project and/or statement.

A Failing Unessay : This Unessay lacks any serious effort to accomplish the assigned task. The Unessay idea and execution are ill-defined, lack focus and clarity, and/or do not engage with the course materials in a focused or substantial way. The proposal was not handed in and/or the materials were not ready for presentation to the class on July 31. No revisions were made.


[1] This prompt and grading criteria were adapted and cobbled together from Professor Emily Contois’ “Teaching the Unruly Unessay” on her personal site, Professor Emily Suzanne Clark’s Unessay post on her personal site, and Professor Ryan Cordell’s Unessay assignment on the Technologies of Text class site.