Redefinition Essay of a word: RESISTANCE

RESISTANCE as in antibiotic resistance or defiance of a disease. Try to relate the Biological term resistance to the political term of resistance.

For this project, you will research and write about a debatable or controversial word in your major of Immunology and Infectious Disease or future profession in that field.  The essay will guide the reader into a new understanding of this word that, if considered or adopted, can facilitate positive change.

In your professional life, a supervisor might request your input on a debatable topic or trend in your field. For interview performance, the assignment offers the chance to gain an insightful perspective on an intriguing, meaningful, and timely topic.  As a student in the humanities, you also may wish to weigh in on any concerns of the day that affect your campus, community, hometown, or nation more broadly. Ultimately, your essay will offer an answer to the question: Why does a correct understanding of this word matter so much?

Here are the specifications:

1500 to 2000 words in length

A helpful title (do not frame the posts as ENG 202B assignments); don’t just make the word into the title or write “Post 2 for English.”

At least two headings (do not begin the post with a heading – live the introduction unnamed) to mark movements in the discussion.  Don’t overdo it: give the ideas a chance to develop.

At least two paragraphs within each section

Concise paragraphs: in web writing, paragraphs tend to be a bit briefer than in writing for print; whereas print paragraphs should usually run 40-80% of a page, web paragraphs should usually run 3-6 sentences, with perhaps a couple of brief, 1-2 sentence paragraphs here and there (vary paragraph size for rhetorical agility and to create voice).

Three or more sources, used effectively to advance your discussion.  They do not need be scholarly, but they must be credible.   In other words, no listicle from WebMD.  In addition, you may include any number of popular sources for exemplification or analysis.

(Links to an external site.) To cite all web content, use only a content-specific hyperlink.  These are linked words or phrases (specifically related to the linked content) that send the reader to the web source.  The hyperlinks are the citation, and no further citation should be used.  In this sentence, I use a content-specific hyperlink to send the reader to Word press’s page that offers help with links (Links to an external site.).

All content that cannot be cited with content-specific hyperlinks should be cited using MLA, APA, or Chicago style.  For print sources, include in-text parenthetical citations (as dictated by the style guide) and place properly formatted bibliography citations at the end of the document.

The paper must demonstrate comprehension of the difference between a word and a concept: between “banana” and an actual banana.  “Teaching” but not the general concept of teaching or educating or pedagogy, etc.  “Illegal” instead of the concept of illicit, forbidden, proscribed, not legal.

Let’s say you choose the word “behavior” within the field of clinical psychology. Imagine that you suspect that behavior used to mean actions that can be appropriate or inappropriate, but that it now means something different, more nuanced; maybe, you think, t you could argue for a few definition that changes (beneficially) how we apply the word in clinical psychology.

You might then peruse recent articles – whether scholarly or professional or of some credibility – that discuss behavior, preferably while using the word “behavior.” You would gain a keener sense of how the concept and word are being discussed in contemporary clinical psychology. You would absorb the terms of discussion, using the conversation to write more precisely about the definition and the redefinition.


Use the following questions to guide you:

  • What controversial word or phrase might I (re)define?
  • Why does this topic matter now? What’s happening in the culture that makes this timely?
  • What question am I trying to answer?
  • Where is this conversation happening and who else is talking about it?
  • What authorizes me to write on this topic?
  • Why does this topic matter? What’s at stake?
  • What caused this current controversy or incorrect term?
  • What is my position and re(definition)? What changes after someone reads my paper?
  • How would an audience object to my point? What analogy might I use to guide them?
  • Who is my audience? What do they value? How does my essay ultimately benefit them?

Evaluation Criteria

Your essay will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Ethos. Does the writer show what authorizes them to write this essay using a display of experience, expertise, a “conversion experience” or sustained curiosity in the topic?

Kairos. Is the writer’s topic timely? What is the occasion for writing? Has the writer used words related to time like currently, recently, now, trending, lately, etc?

Logos.  Has the writer asked precise questions and offered evidence to engage reasoning? Is it clear what question the writer is attempting to answer?

Pathos. Has the writer created urgency about the topic and generated emotion (fear, curiosity, hope, shame / guilt?) Is the writer offering a clear payoff? That is, has the writer asked the reader to imagine a world in which their argument was true? What would change and for whom?

Thesis. Does the writer offer a clear and debatable thesis position (While many argue that. . . this term actually…)?

Sources.  Has the writer has dialogued with at least two sources using proper MLA citation?  Has the writer introduced their source’s expertise? Has the writer properly embedded quotations by beginning the sentence with an analysis verb, embedding the quote, citing the quote, and reflecting on the quote? [i.e.: Psychologist Dr. Martha Brown recently assessed that “the college campus mental health concern is now a crisis” (7). This “crisis” suggests we take a different approach to our interventions.] Has the writer included a correctly MLA-formatted works cited page?

Style. Does the writer vary sentence lengths and openings, employ advanced grammar, and write with precise analysis verbs? Has the writer made use of some “garnish techniques” like analogy, chiasmus, repeated first words, and/or self-answering questions?

Organization. Does the writer create transition sentences between paragraphs and provide a logical and beneficial organization?

Clarity. Does the writer define any confusing or vague terms? (By mental health, I mean. . . / By white privilege, I mean. . . / By core exercises, I mean. . . )

Evidence. Does the writer offer clear examples with every point made? For example, “When I refer to a healthy vegan diet, I mean to avoid processed foods like vegan chips or vegan candy in favor of foods that come directly from the earth (carrots, apples, whole grains).”

Benefit.  Does the writer show why their position matters, who benefits, and what changes for the better if the reader adopts the argument?

Rebuttal. Does the writer address possible reader objections with analogies and good reasoning? Does the writer include a paragraph that talks to the reader about what they might be feeling or thinking?

Conclusion. Does the writer explain what might happen next in future conversations or research regarding this topic and leave the reader knowing how this paper contributes to the conversation?


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