Essay One (e1)

Responding to Spelman

For this, your first main writing project for this course, I’d like you to write an essay in response to some aspect of Elizabeth Spelman’s Repair.

Let me say a little more about what I mean by in response. I do not want you write some sort of review of Repair, to explain or evaluate the book as a whole. Rather, I’d like you to find a particular issue or question that Spelman raises that you feel you also have something to say about. Focus your writing on this issue or question. Work as much as you can with specific terms, examples, and passages from her book. Think of yourself as being in conversation with Spelman, as replying to one of the (many) ideas she puts forward about repair.

I’ll offer you several chances to get started on this essay as we read through Repair together. Specifically, I’ll ask you to write a brief (750 words or so) response to something that interests you in Chapters 1–3, then a similar response to Chapters 4–5, and then one more to Chapters 6–7. I’ll then ask you to choose one of those three responses to develop into an essay of about 1,500 words. This final version of your essay will earn a letter grade that will count for 30% of your final course grade.

You’ll get a lot of feedback to your writing from your classmates, your TA, and me. So my expectations for the final version of your essay are high. We’ll talk a good bit in the next few weeks about those expectations, but I can suggest now that you look to Spelman as a possible model for your writing. She is clearly someone who is passionately interested in ideas, and who responds with scrupulous care to the work of others. But she also writes in a clear and personal style. As we read her book, that is, we learn not only about repair, but also about her. Your aim here should be similar: To write about ideas in a voice that feels your own.

See below for deadlines. I’ll have more to say about each of the stages of this project as we come to them. I look forward to learning what you make of Repair, and helping you develop an essay in response to it. Good luck!


  1. Mon, 9/12, 4:00 pm: Post a response to Chapters 1-3 (r1) to this website.
  2. Mon, 9/19, 4:00 pm: Post a response to Chapters 4-5 (r2) to this website.
  3. Mon, 9/26, 4:00 pm: Post a response to Chapters 6-7 (r3) to this website.
  4. Mon, 10/03, 4:00 pm: Email a plan (p1) for your full essay to your GTA and me.
  5. Wed, 10/05–Fri, 10/07: Talk about your plans in conferences with your GTA and me.
  6. Tues, 10/11, 9:30 am: Bring an all-but-final version of your essay to class.
  7. Wed, 10/12, 4:00 pm: Email the final version of your essay to your GTA and me.