Writing Resources

Retrospective Statement

The retrospective statement is a required part of every IMP student's final project. It is a three- to five-page essay (please number your pages!) in which the student reflects on the various elements of his or her program (courses and independent study, internships, extracurricular activities, etc.) with a view toward identifying connections among them. One useful approach to the statement is to consider this question: How do the various elements of your curriculum form an integrated whole? The retrospective statement might also recount challenges that arose during the student's IMP career and ways the student adapted in response.

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Analytic Essay

Students whose final projects are internships, performances, screenplays — anything that is not itself an extended piece of analytic writing — are required to write a 10- to 12-page analytic essay. The analytic essay is the faculty committee's primary means of access to the final project, both what it precisely was and what your role in completing it involved. In addition to describing the project, the analytic essay delves into the hows and whys of it, showing, for example, how issues common in the studentís field manifested themselves in an internship, or explaining the choices involved in conceiving, drafting, and editing a piece of creative writing. The focus of the analytic essay should remain squarely on the final project (unlike the retrospective statement, which encompasses the studentís overall experience as a student in the IMP). Itís expected that the student will discuss major courses in the analytic essay, but only in connection with their application to the project.

One way of ensuring strong analytic content is by careful attention to the organization of the essay. Considering the common definition of analysis as breaking down a subject into its component parts, identify four or five important concepts that will guide your discussion. (Preparing an outline is particularly helpful when drafting the analytic essay.) Craft an introduction that captures the readerís attention and interest while also making clear what the project is and the strategy the paper will use to analyze it. Write clear topic sentences and include transitions that keep the reader oriented to the direction of your discussion. An effective conclusion may, in part, remind the reader of what has preceded it but will, more crucially, reassert the importance of the material under consideration, pointing to its implications for future research and social practice, or expanding upon its ethical and moral dimensions.

The analytic essay isnít necessarily thesis-driven in the manner of the typical academic paper, and it neednít cite secondary sources. It does, however, have a persuasive purpose: to demonstrate that the final project is an effective culmination of the studentís academic program and that the faculty committee should approve the completion of the studentís individualized major. The essay is often the element of the studentís project that gives the committee its clearest idea of the projectís success. The committee members will defer to an on-site supervisor to evaluate the studentís work in an internship, or to the faculty sponsor to assess the level of accomplishment displayed in a performance, but the studentís own written account is their chief criterion for judging the studentís success in the individualized major.

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I470 Senior Writing Workshop

IMP students who wish to develop their writing skills are encouraged to take the I470 Senior Capstone Seminar, a one-credit, first-eight-weeks course offered in the spring and fall. I470 is a writing workshop focusing on the production of the retrospective and analytic essays. Students normally take I470 during the final semester of their IMP studies.

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Other Resources

Writing Tutorial Services provides free tutoring on all stages of the writing process.

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