Essay 1 Prompt (Fall 2017)

We are sharing a text (Roxane Gay’s collection) and essay 1 with other sections of FYWs this fall. Below is the common prompt.

We will work from this prompt, but will also allow some adjustments, which we will discuss in class. This is a good place to start for planning.

Self-Definition Essay

In “Peculiar Benefits,” Roxane Gay defines privilege through personal and social narrative, weaving a story of the term that includes her own privilege and the way the term has been viewed culturally, both negatively and positively. Using Gay’s essay as an introduction to the genre, you will write an essay that uses exploration of personal and cultural experiences to define a term or concept.

Begin by choosing a term that is related to diversity and inclusion. First, look at this list of terms we’ll examine throughout the semester:

  • Race/Racism
  • Privilege
  • Sexuality
  • Gender
  • Feminism
  • Social Class
  • Intersectionality
  • Religion
  • Nationalism

Do you connect to any of these words, or variations of them? Do your personal or familial experiences with any of these terms offer you a starting point for thinking about what it means? Using this list as a starting point, pinpoint one of these terms or another that relates to them that you’d like to examine in more depth.

Once you’ve chosen a term, consider how this term is traditionally defined as well as how your essay will respond to or broaden that definition. Your essay must:

  • State the term being defined,
  • Offer a clear definition of the term,
  • Use cultural and/or personal examples to elucidate the definition,
  • Both name and explain any negative and positive connotations that are often attached to the term (see Gay’s explanation of privilege).

While all aspects your writing will be factored into the grade, this assignment specifically asks for you to focus on clarity and organization.


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