Essay 3: Critical Writing on Min-Zhan Lu’s “From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle”

Rely on the prompt below to develop your argument for your paper. Do not think of the prompt as a limitation; it is meant to help you develop a paper with a specific goal and/or argument.

Min-Zhan Lu’s essay, “From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle,” engages with the difficult matters of how a student, or any learner, navigates the acquisition of languages through the educational process. Her writing makes use of both academic concepts and theory alongside personal form of writing, what is sometimes called “creative non-fiction.” However, her writing is more than a form of storytelling; it is an academically serious exploration of the concepts of “discourse” and “discourse acquisition,” using her personal life as a relatable example illustrating the complexity of these concepts.

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For this Essay 3, expand on your Discussion Week 7 posts to engage with what Lu says about “acquiring a discourse” by writing a coherent critical narrative about your acquisition of a discourse.

In the essay, Min-Zhan Lu writes that she wants to intentionally complicate the classroom scene by bringing into it discourses that stand at varying distances from the one we teach (447)? Look back at this sentences context (the paragraph in which it is found and the paragraphs before and after it) and explain what this statement is in response to. Explain how or why she feels it is necessary to do what she is describing. Refer to specific statements in the text to provide your answer. 

In your Essay 3, you should address and build on the following questions, using direct quotes from her essay to build your interpretation, conduct close reading, and make your argument:

  • For Lu, what does it mean to acquire a discourse? How does she describe this as similar to and different from the experience of learning different languages?

  • What might it look like for you to describe your acquisition of a discourse? Would your experience reflect Lus? Would it be different? How so? Place your experience in conversation with Lu’s writing, pointing to specific ideas as she expresses them and using direct quotes to relate your experience to hers.

  • Referring back to how Lu describes her experience navigating the discourses of home and school, in what ways would you say your experience of acquiring a discourse through home and school (or some other social environment) have been either purified of outside discourses or complicated (that is, made more complex) by various discourses that fell outside of that environment’s preferred or dominant way of writing/reading?

Utilizing all your analysis skills up to this point (interpretive questions, rhetorical analysis, and close reading), show how you use the text to interpret the choices in her writing that you have observed as interesting, surprising, confusing, or worth noting for some reason. Demonstrate your ability to summarize, paraphrase, and frame quotations, as well as your use of analytical skills to focus on both the purpose and context of the author’s writing choices and the close reading of specific terms, phrases, and words that contribute to a clear and sustained reading of the text. 
Bring together these points into a coherent essay that explores what it means to “acquire a discourse” by engaging with the particular, specific, and minor details that you observe in Lu’s writing. Make sure that your essay correctly and clearly utilizes the exercises we have explored in class:

  • Framing Quotations
  • First/Introductory Paragraphs
  • Close Reading Paragraphs
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Closing/Conclusion Paragraphs

Basic Paper Requirements:
These basic requirements must be satisfied. You will automatically receive 0 points if you dont satisfy the requirements below. This paper must be submitted as a PDF or Word Doc. It is due before 11:59pm, Sunday.

  • Must be in MLA format (see MLA style guide in the links to the Online Writing Lab in the Week One Module).
  • A properly formatted Works Cited page.
  • The paper must be at least 1,000 words, not including the Works Cited page.
  • Must rely on both Lu’s and Gallop’s essays – providing direct quotes and in-text citations to support your interpretations and use of the close reading method (This means using Gallop to explain how you will be conducting close reading, and using Lu as your text for interpretation and analysis. You must frame your quotes correctly, following the models in the Framing Quotations Activity.
  • Must have a clearly identifiable interpretive question that your paper seeks to address and answer through close analysis of the text.
  • Must have an original title that communicates the basic gist of your papers question/topic/purpose