Almost everyone has to take ENGL 15 at Penn State. The satellite campuses usually have a single professor teaching that class, and they have specific concepts to write papers about. ENGL 15 at Penn State Greater Allegheny has five concepts in particular. These aren’t like normal high school papers. They require extra work, research, and effort. Here are what the five concepts are:


This is probably the most fun assignment. An encomium is an ancient form of writing that focuses on praise. In this paper, you will be choosing a person to praise, and you need to convince the audience that this person is worthy of praise. You need to include an introduction, the person’s origins, education and interests, achievements, comparisons to others, and a conclusion. The person you choose should be someone of importance to you. Before you start writing, you need to interview that person to get information about them. The secondary purpose of this is to entertain, so have fun with it!


2. Rhetorical Analysis 

A rhetorical analysis breaks down a piece of work, and explains how those parts work together to make it effective. You will need to choose an advertisement, argument, speech, website, or anything with text that you think is interesting and persuasive. Talk about the context, and look for uses of logos (logic), pathos (emotion), and ethos (credibility). You also need to talk about structure, style, and tone. What makes this piece of text a persuasive type? A common topic to write about is famous speeches.


3. Cultural Analysis

This paper requires you to choose a current problem of American culture and society to talk about. This is your chance to be passionate about change! Some possible topics include race, gender, education, politics, health, and popular culture. You should talk about a problem that affects you and how it might impact your audience. Create an argument about why a problem in America is indeed a problem. Who knows? This might just be the start of a new solution!


4. Proposal Argument

Similar to the cultural analysis, you will talk about a problem that needs to be fixed. This time, your focus is on proposing a viable solution. Think about what actions need to be taken in order to solve whatever problem you want to advocate for. Think about what bothers you, and convince your audience that it is an issue. Your main goal is to convince someone to take action.


5. Current Events

Take a look at the news and see what’s going on. This paper requires you to read O Pioneers! and see if you can relate anything in the book to current events. The book isn’t written to take place in the current century, but there are some themes that can relate to what’s going on today. Think about some of the biggest issues going on in the world today. This is also similar to the cultural analysis, except you’re bringing the book into it too.


Hopefully this list helped you get an idea of what types of concepts will be covered in ENGL 15 at Penn State Greater Allegheny. The papers can be challenging, but you can still have fun with them. Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher questions about anything, including topic ideas. Good luck!


Tess Fukuyama

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