First-Year Reading Initiative and Principles of Biology
The Road by Cormac McCarthy — 2001–2008 Common Reader
Michael Wayne Morris, Rachael N. Koigi, and Christi Magrath
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Troy University
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences faculty teaching Principles of Biology had the challenge of finding life in a "lifeless" world as described by McCarthy and sharing that discovery with their students. Biology faculty drafted questions, some of which required the students to do some research outside of class, related to The Road and also related to topics such as ecology, health, and biological chemistry that are traditionally taught in life science courses. Five of these questions were included on final exams after faculty had discussed specific relationships between the "biology of The Road" and class topics and also after the students had researched some current environmental problems in the Southeast to see how interconnected the various aspects of our natural surroundings are. One faculty member in biology had an open-ended question addressing three important biologically relevant themes in the book.
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood — 2009–2010 Common Reader
Essay assignments for ENG 1101 (English Composition I)
Dr. Marian J. Parker
My Personal Cause
This semester we will investigate Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a memoir that describes how and why the author has become an activist for saving the longleaf pine forests of the Wiregrass area. Consider your own passion, and write a personal essay that identifies your cause, explains why you are passionate about it, and describes the ways you can support its purposes.
An Objective Approach to My Cause
For the second essay, you should step back from your first essay and develop an objective view of the cause you have identified. Where your first essay was passionate, this one should be factual and clinical. This assignment will test your ability to write with clarity, impartiality, and precision about a topic that can elicit strong feelings.
The Documented Essay
Write a five-paragraph documented essay about the cause you have identified. The introduction should specify the purpose of the essay, as well as the points you will make in the body. Each of the three body paragraphs should contain at least one citation from your source material (one New York Times article, one article from JSTOR, and one interview). Be sure to use logical transitions to tie the information together. The conclusion should be appropriate to the essay.
The Critical Analysis
Write a review of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. You may include in your review a brief summary of the author's key points and purpose, but the bulk of your essay should be your opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of the book, the notable features of the text, and your honest recommendation to other readers.
"What I come from has made me who I am."
—Janisse Ray, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
This semester, you have read Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, which describes Janisse Ray's passion for saving the rapidly-disappearing longleaf pine forest of the Wiregrass area of the south. You have written essays about the book and about your own interest in a particular cause.
For this assignment, you will write an essay that chronicles how your early family life and experiences have created your interest in your cause and have made you the person you are today. You may also speculate on where you expect to see yourself ten years from now, as a result of your background and the cause you have chosen to support.