Examples of Past State Literary Essay Topics

The following are examples of past Essay Topics that may make it easier for coaches to prepare for this year's State Literary event:

Personal Essay

    Relate the sacrifices your parents have made to help you succeed in life.

    What is a major achievement in your life? Who and what assisted you in reaching your goal?

Argumentative Essay

    Should betting on Fantasy Football and other “Fantasy Sports” be banned?

    Could a four-day school week improve L-12 education?


Rhetorical Essay Sample Topic:

Read the following passages from Oleanna, a play by David Mamet.  In the first passage, Carol an undergraduate student, is accusing her male college professor of being sexist and elitist.  The second passage is John’s response to Carol.  After reading both passages, write a well developed essay in which you compare and contrast the attitudes expressed by both student and teacher.  In your essay, analyze how Mamet uses such literary techniques as diction, selection of detail, structure, syntax, point of view, and tone.

CAROL:                                                                                                  JOHN:

“How can you deny it.  You did it to me.                                          “I say something conventional, you

Here.  You did . . . You confess.  You love                                          respond, and the information we

the Power.  To deviate.  To invent, to                                               exchange is not about the

transgress . . . to transgress whatever                                              “weather,” but that we both agree

norms have been established for us.                                               to converse.  In effect, we agree

And you think it’s charming to “question”                                       that we are both human . . . “I’m

in yourself this taste to mock and                                                     not a . . . “exploiter,” and you’re

destroy.  But you should question it.                                                not a . . . “deranged,” what?

Professor.  And you pick those things                                              revolutionary . . . that we may,

which you feel advance you: publication,                                       that we may have . . . positions,

tenure, and the steps to get them you call                                     and that we may have desires,

“harmless rituals.”  And you perform those                                    which are in conflict, but that we

steps.  Although you say it is hypocrisy.                                           are just human.  (Pause) That

But to the aspirations of your students.                                           means that sometime we’re

Of hardworking students who come here,                                      imperfect. (Pause)  Often we’re

who slave to come here—you have no idea                                  in conflict.  (Pause)  Much of what

what it cost me to come to this school—you                                  we do, you’re right, in the name of

mock us.  You call education “hazing” and                                       “principles” is self-serving . . .much

from your so-protected, so-elitist seat you                                     of what we do is conventional.

you hold our confusion as a joke, and our                                      (Pause)  You’re right.  (Pause) You

hopes and efforts with it.  Then you sit there                                said you came in the class because

and say “what have I done?”  And ask me to                                  you wanted to learn about educa-

understand that you have aspirations too.                                      tion.  I don’t know that I can teach

But I tell you.  I tell you.  That you are vile.                                      you about education.  But I know

And that you are exploitative.  And if you                                       that I can tell you what I think

possess one ounce of that inner honesty                                       about education, and then you

you describe in your book, you can look                                        decide.  And you don’t have to fight

in yourself and see those things that I see.                                     with me.  I’m not the subject.

And you can find revulsion equal to my own.                                (Pause) And where I’m wrong . . .

Good day.”                                                                                       perhaps it’s not your job to “fix”

                                                                                                        me.  I don’t want to fix you.  I

                                                                                                        would like to tell you what I think,

                                                                                                        Because that is my job . . .

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