Back to Fall 07 English Calendar

Essay 2 - An Emblem of History

Ralph Waldo Emerson, circa 1848,
with original manuscript of his poem “Manadnoc,” (ca. 1845)
The Houghton Library, Harvard University

Your second essay will grow out of the work that you are doing for Project 3. You should be able to use much of the same material; however, now you are constructing a formal argumentative essay. Your audience and purpose will change.

For your second essay you will imagine that you are part of a committee of historians creating a museum exhibit that will present the history and culture of early-mid nineteenth century America.

In one room of the exhibit will be items that are most emblematic of those years.

Your job is to think about all of the material you have read or gathered for your Project 3 and decide what one item should go into this special exhibit room. For those of you who are writing on the Hollywood/History connection, imagine that you are working on an exhibit of Hollywood and History and adapt your argument.

Your second task is to persuade, in an essay, the committee composed of your colleagues that your choice is the best one. This requires a clear statement of your position and reasons to support your choice. You should not consider size to be an obstacle. Be as creative as you want to be here.

Your essay should be approximately 750 – 1000 words in length and should include an image that represents your choice plus an additional image (2 images total).

Consider the following outline as a general strategy for your paper:


  • Brief overview of your topic
  • Set up the purpose and context for your essay. Remember, your audience is the rest of the committee.
  • Thesis – your statement claiming that the item you select should
    be placed in the special exhibit room.


  • Your paragraphs will outline the reasons why this is the best choice. Think of completing the thought, “We should choose this item
    because . . . . .”
  • Your reasons should be supported by evidence. For example, if you are arguing for a copy of the Louisiana Purchase, because it increased the size of the new nation, your evidence might be an explanation of the boundaries of the purchase which actually doubled the size of the country.

Acknowledgement of objections (optional)

  • This is an effective argumentative strategy. If you anticipate and counter other possibilities that your audience might suggest, it makes your choice seem stronger and more thought out. What other items might someone consider?


• This is where you “close the deal” with the committee.

Works Cited

  • Separate Works Cited page in which you acknowledge your sources in alphabetical order in MLA format.
  • See the link on our home page to The Bedford/St. Martin’s Documentation and Resource Home Page

Carefully include in-text parenthetical citations for any work that you either quote directly or paraphrase. See the Quoting Smoothly and Paraphrasing links on our home page. Your parenthetical citations should lead your reader to the first word in the Works Cited entry.

Essay due: Tuesday, November 20

I remind you of the following English Department policy: You must turn in all written work in order to pass the class.


  • Paper typed in standard 12 point font, double spaced, and stapled in the left-hand corner
  • 750 - 1000 words in length
  • Original title that catches the reader’s interest
  • Introduction with clear thesis statement
  • Paragraphs that support the thesis
  • Conclusion
  • A separate Works Cited page acknowledging sources, in alphabetical order, for text and images in MLA format
  • An image of your emblem choice and 1 additional image

Lincoln, Rose. “Ralph Waldo Emerson (1848) with manuscript.” Online image. Harvard University Gazette. 27 October 2005. <>.

University of Houston State of Texas Privacy and Policies Homeland Security Compact with Texans Reporting Copyright Infringement Contact U H Feedback Site Map Statewide Search U H System