Essay #1: Defining Your Field
This essay requires you to describe your current field or discipline.
Your essay should be directed towards an uninformed and apathetic public.
A discipline, major, or field can be understood as a particular method for answering a set of intellectual questions, an agreed upon way of defining a specific object of study, a series of courses studied in college, officially approved professional practices, or any combination of the previous possibilities.
Disciplines and fields are also always changing. ‘Classics’ used to include Sanskrit, now it usually refers to only Latin and Greek. ‘Comparative Literature’ used to require reading the literature of two modern foreign languages as well as one ancient language. Now, some students in Comparative Literature focus on film or theory without reading any novels in other languages. These changes can be prompted by historical or cultural conditions, by economic forces, or by the fallout of major academic debates. At their cores, and as they evolve, fields or disciplines are determined by the significant issues or questions that a set of professionals dedicates their lives to.
Explore a current and narrow aspect of your field that interests you. Focus on a few texts and tease out the key terms that define your area of study. You may want to talk to a professor or professional in your field. Take a perspective on what you’ve researched in order to answer the following question:
What question defines your field, and why does it matter?
Your final essay should cite at least two sources, although you may need to read through a few more. Your rough draft should be 3 to 4 pages long. Your final draft should be no fewer than 5 full pages and no longer than 7.
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