Sequence Overview:

Addressing the dynamic between mobility and immobility in either Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie’s Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error or Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, make an argument that refines, extends, and critiques Tim Cresswell’s discussion of “sedentary metaphysics” and “nomadic metaphysics.”

Schedule of Reading & Writing Assignments


  • Learn to identify a compelling motive and develop an arguable thesis.
  • Develop an understanding of the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Practice evidence analysis, interpretation, and mobilization.
  • Identify and use key terms in a sophisticated manner.
  • Become familiar with Chicago Style.


  • Tim Cresswell, “The Metaphysics of Fixity and Flow,” On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World (New York: Routledge, 2006), pp. 25-27 and 36-50.
  • Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), pp. vii-xvii, 3-10, 69-135, 277-287.
  • Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman (Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures, 2009.

Pre-Draft Assignments:

PD 1.1: Your Shitty First Draft (+- 3 pp.)                                                                                                                             Due in class, September 28, 2017

Get some inspiration from Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” and write your own. This is an opportunity for you to try out arguments and experiment with structure.

Draft and Cover Letter:

Due 5 pm, September 30, 2017

Your first draft will be your most difficult, but do not let that discourage you! After all, writing is a process that is never complete, and something we will learn this semester is just how critical a part revisions play in good writing. Thus, keep in mind that I am expecting a draft, not a polished paper.

With that said, your draft should not be just a stream of evidence. Your goal is to analyze the evidence, and the more you do that in your draft, the better the commentary you will receive from your readers. At the very least, your draft should clearly explain the “puzzle” you are trying to understand, and feature some analysis offering some answers. At this stage, you are likely still working with a tentative thesis, so do not worry if your analytical moves lead you astray from that initial hunch. All good theses change in the process of writing.

Your draft cover letter should provide readers with a snapshot of your argument and your writing process. In addition to any specific concerns you may have, you should also answer the following questions:

  • What is your motive?
  • What sentence from your draft best articulates your tentative thesis?
  • Use the “Writing Lexicon” to explain what you think are the strongest elements in your essay and what you think could use the most improvement?

Draft Response Letter:

Due in class, October 3 and October 5, 2017

You should print two hard copies of each draft response letter and bring them to class on the day of the workshop (one will be given to the writer of the draft discussed, the other one to me). Each letter should be approximately 350-words long. It should directly address the draft writer and feature:

  • A summary of their argument.
  • An assessment of the draft’s strengths.
  • Respectful feedback on where you see room for improvement.
  • DO NOT focus on correcting grammar or syntax. Instead, you are to ask clarifying questions that are informed by the Writing Lexicon.

Revision and Cover Letter:

Due 5 pm, October 14, 2017

After you meet me for a conference you will work on your revision. Revisions are more than just fixing typos and shifting sentences around. Instead, you should fully engage with the valuable feedback you received.

The revision cover letter addresses the changes between the draft and revision. Make sure to explain the reasons behind the most significant changes, and reflect on how your writing improved through the process.