The Planet Assignment #2: Man Against Nature

Depictions of the relationship between humans and the natural environment often take the form of antagonistic battles to the death. As we have discussed in class, writers make choices in imagining and constructing these relationships that go beyond the simple relating of “facts.” Your task in this assignment is to compare the man-nature relationship depicted in two texts by assessing the relative vulnerabilities of people and nature you find there.

Audience: Readers familiar with the texts under discussion

Format: 1200 words (4-5 pages); MLA style, including in-text citations and Works Cited page

Advice: The best essays will provide clear summaries of the depictions of man’s relationship to natural environments in the two texts under discussion and include a clear statement of the main point of comparison that is supported by comparable amounts of evidence from the two texts.


Type: Develop an argument to analyze the tension between two sources

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to give students practice with summarizing, paraphrasing and interpreting texts. Focusing on the depiction of vulnerabilities as a field of comparison prepares students for the kind of thinking and analysis they will do in the research essay.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. In-class writing and discussion focused on comparing depictions of man-nature relationships in various kinds of literary and informational texts
  2. Critical reading activities to generate points of comparison; for example, using diagrams or charts
  3. In-class activities focused on annotating, paraphrasing, and summarizing common texts and students’ own writing
  4. Peer review focused on clarity in introductions and conclusions, organization/structure, and proper formatting of in-text citations and Works Cited page entries
  5. Revision exercise to eliminate forms of “to be” and/or use of the pronoun “I”

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