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V. Montecino - English 302 Advanced Composition

Metaphor Writing Assignment

Write a cohesive essay analyzing the two articles on metaphors. Begin with an appropriate introduction which sets up your purpose. Provide logical transitions between paragraphs. Support your points with evidence from the texts. Let your readers, me and your class members, know what points you are addressing by using topic sentences for each new point of inquiry. When you analyze the articles, don't "lump" them together - if you find similarities, of course, mention them, but also try to address the specific points of analysis in relation to each article. Don't deal entirely with one text and then the other. Weave them both into your critique in relation to each point of analysis. Be sure your reader knows to which article you are referring (don't identify by "first" or "second"). Don't get into what article you think is "better"; that's not our objective. Stretch your thinking skills; dare to be creative in your approach. 

Goals for this assignment:

  • to become a better writer, of course, since that is what this course is all about
  • fine tune your reading and critical thinking skills 
  • develop an awareness of how audience and purpose affect the choices writers make regarding voice, language, style, format, supporting evidence
  • build upon your ability to synthesize material and use supporting detail/evidence to support your points
  • explore the use of metaphors in your major
Anne Eisenberg in "Metaphor in the Language of Science," Scientific American, May 1992, and John M. Lawler, in his lecture Metaphors We Compute By, both discuss the use of metaphors when describing scientific/technological concepts. Do a close reading of both texts; analyze them according to the points below. Base your essay on the points below. 
  1. What is each author's purpose for writing the article? What is the controlling idea (the thesis? - the primary message each is trying to convey)? Yes, they are both about metaphors, but each is unique. Try to come up with a brief summary (no more than a few sentences) of what each author's main points are. 
  2. What do you know about the authors? What is each author's connection to his or her subject? Is there area of expertise evident in their texts through kinds of examples, approaches to the subject?
  3. Who is the audience for each piece?

  4. Are there any clues in the readings which identify the audience? Beyond the more obvious clues, look at the language and supporting detail the author's use to support their assertions. Do the authors make assumptions about the knowledge base of their audiences? If they do make assumptions about their audience's knowledge, in what areas do they assume their audiences are knowledgeable and what examples in the text support your assertions? Do you find one text more easy to read and understand? Why? Why not? What sources, if any, were you not familiar with? Did this hamper your ability to relate to the texts?
  5. "Listen" to the author's "voices" as you read their texts. Do the authors write from personal experience? Does the author use first person, "I," or does the author remain removed from the subject? Does the author use slang, irony, humor? How would you describe their "voices"? Do their "voices" change? Can you give some examples of a shift in voice and why you think this occurs? Are there clues in the publications and purposes of the texts? 
  6. How is each article organized? Are there any obvious clues to how the material is organized? How does the formatting affect your reading of the texts? Beyond the obvious, briefly explain how the material is organized in each text.
  7. As an addendum to your paper, discuss what you learned about metaphors from reading these two texts. What are some metaphors you use in your everyday life? Identify some metaphors in your major and discuss one or two with which you are familiar and how they may help clarify a concept in your field to someone not in your field.

© Virginia Montecino 1996
Virginia Montecino