DefinitionEssayAssignmentInstructionsIn our academic lives, we are exposed to new words and termsall the time: We might learn new terms—or more complicatedapplications of words we thought we already know—as westudy history, biology, literature, or other disciplines. Thishappens in our everyday lives as well; we hear new words fromdifferent cultures, different technologies, and differentgenerations. Often, when we want to know a word or a term’sdefinition, we think of looking in the dictionary, of going to anacknowledged, credible source to find out what a word means.We don’t necessarily think of definitions as debatable, asarguments, and many words, in many situations, are not. Whenyou hear someone tell a teenager or young adult to act like an“adult,” you probably don’t think of that person acting like a 14-year-old. You know what the word “adult” means! But you alsoprobably know that in a different context that word that youknow so well may be contested. In criminal law, for example, a14-year-old might be tried as an “adult” in a court if he or shehas committed certain crimes. And 200 years ago, a 14-year-oldwas very much an adult in terms of being able to work or evenmarry. And in some parts of the world, that is still the case.So once we think about it, we realize that dictionaries aren’t theonly sources of definitions. Often how a word is defined is verydebatable; often, indeed, it’s the foundation of an argument. Forexample, before a court can decide to try a 14-year-old as anadult, there must be agreement on what being an adult means inthis particular legal term (that is, in terms of behavior, knowingright from wrong, etc.). How a court defines “adult” will likelybe very different from the way a biologist defines “adult”, whichwill vary still from the way a psychologist defines it.In college and the professional world, you will often be expectedto memorize established definitions of terms. But you will oftenneed to be able to understand and enter the debate overdefinitions that are contested. In this expository essay, you willdefine an abstract term that may be contested.AssignmentInstructionsFor this paper, you will choose a debatable term that is ofinterest to you. You will define the term using whateverevidence you determine to be the most compelling and uniquelydescribe the term you are defining. Make sure that the definitionis your own and that it is not simply a different meaning of aword with multiple interpretations.1. Review the grading rubric as listed on the following.2. Choose a debatable term that is of interest to you.3. Develop an essay according to the following formattingguidelines: (Papers submitted that do not meet theseformatting requirements will be returned to you ungraded.)o Minimum of 2 typed, double-spaced pages (about 450–600 words), Times New Roman, 12 pt font sizeo MLA formatting (see the MLA Format page asneeded)o Submitted as either a .Microsoft Word doc, .or rtf file4. Submit your essay as a single file upload with your firstand last name in the file name.PurposeYour broader purpose here is to enter into a more expansiveconversation about your term, but you must still shape—andmake clear to your audience—your more specific purpose. Yourgoal in this paper is to reflect on and articulate the meaning of aword or term that has some resonance for you. For your reader,the paper should offer a clear sense of what you think the termmeans, how your thoughts connect to what others think of theterm, why and in what context the definition matters.How you arrange your essay is your choice, but you will want toconsider where to place your support. How will you weavetogether a definition of an abstract term with an attention-grabbing narrative, examples, negation, and other tactics ofdefinition that best explain the concept?HowtoProceedOnce you have decided on your audience, your term, and thesupport for defining that term, how do you go about actuallycomposing a definition? There are many tactics of definition,or definition questions, and we will consider and practicethem in class. You will not use all of them in this paper (thatwould be more like a list than a well-structured essay!), but youshould choose the ones that work best for this term andaudience.What you should not do in this essay is define something theway we already know it; in other words, try not to tell us that acomputer is a machine for accessing the World Wide Web andWord processing. We don’t need to read that compromise isfinding an in-between in a conflict. Aim for somethinginvigorating and fresh. Make it exigent.ExamplesMany of the authors we read in class attempt to define complexterms. These writers employed many of the strategies that youwill be using to write your paper, so please use these stories asexamples of how to successfully write a paper within thedefinition genre.CC LICENSED CONTENT, ORIGINAL▪ Provided by:LumenLearning.Located at:http://lumenlearning.com/.License:CC BY: Attribution

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