Definition Essay & Research Project
Dr. Ray Gen
With a partner, carefully examine one of the following
topics: the actual Salem witch trial, Puritanism, the Massachusetts Pilgrims,
the McCarthy hearings, Communism in the USA from 1945-1960, the separation of
church and state, theocracies, the Mayflower Compact, the history of Salem,
other witch trials, Cotton Mather, etc. You may choose another related topic,
but please check it with Dr. Gen before you begin. After choosing a topic,
research it thoroughly and explain its significance to the play.
Definition Essay (1000 word max)
You and your partner will write a brief, yet thorough
paper explaining the importance of your topic and how it relates to the
I. What is Definition
A. Definition: tells what a term means and how it is different from another
term in its class.
B. Understanding Formal Definitions
1. As in dictionary: term, class, differentiation.
C. Understanding Extended Definition
1. Includes three parts of formal definition.
2. No set pattern to definition, follows the course of the essay pattern.
II. Using Definition
A. In an essay the extended definition is going beyond the formal definition
already given, and interpreting the meaning to cover the topic, requiring
more than one sentence to cover the definition.
B. Brief formal definitions in an essay can strengthen a larger extended
definition when applied to a contemporary concept.
III. Planning a Definition Essay
A. Using Patters of Development
1. Exemplification a. Use examples to clarify a topic to
unaccustomed readers b. Interpreting an example to illustrate a point
2. Description a. describe something beyond what the
definition covers b. go over the physical attributes and create a
visualization for the reader
3. Comparison and contrast a. use comparison to familiarize
the reader with the topic b. use contrast to emphasize certain attributes
4. Process a. extend out to the process in which the topic is
5. Classification and division a. specify and label the topic
to clarify its position in the scheme of things
B. Using Other Strategies
1. Define a term by: a. using synonyms b. using negation
c. using enumeration d. employing analogies e. discussing its origins and
2. Do not restate term in definition, be clear and use a true
IV. Structuring a Definition Essay
A. Structuring an Essay
1. Introduction, body, conclusion
2. In an extended definition reflects attitude or reason for
3. Go beyond formal definition and explain the concept.
B. Decide on Content
1. Find out what is suitable for topic and intended readers
2. Choose strategy[ies] to use in essay
3. Possible structure of essay:
Introduction (with thesis) containing formal definition
to cover what will be in the essay
to support thesis and extended definition
Presentation of Paper
Your presentation may take whatever form you wish. You
may write a poem, short story, fictitious diary, create a web page, do a
PowerPoint presentation, create a video or audio, write a song, create an
album – just about anything. However, you must in your presentation relate the
research topic, show how it affected play, and relate the topic to modern