An Essay on the Principle of Population

In his famous “An Essay on the Principle of Population“(1798), the English economist Thomas Malthus argued that, since geometric growth of population outstrips arithmetic growth of the food supply, we actually need poverty, disease, and starvation to restore the balance. While this theory was popular in the nineteenth century, very few would accept it today.

Point out the major developments in science, economics, and government which, since the time of Malthus, have counteracted his argument.

An Essay on the Principle of Population

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Government Cutbacks

Choose one example of governmental spending which has been or soon will be “cut back.”

Produce a page of notes, then conclude from them whether you favour or oppose the cutback. Now write an inductive essay to support your opinion.

Apply at least three techniques of persuasion.

After a quick “discovery draft,” check to see if you have left out any good points from your notes. Has writing led you to discover new points? If they are good, add them.

In further drafts, revise for conciseness, concrete language, and consistent tone.

Test your prose aloud before publishing the final version.

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Life in Our Village

“Life in Our Village” by Matei Markwei is an easily understood, childlike , loosely rhyming poem, that expresses a universal truth about youthful love.

Discussion Questions:

What is the universal truth in “Life in Our Village”?

  • Boys and girls will do what comes naturally; love cannot be forbidden or exiled.

What techniques does the poet use to articulate this theme?(give examples)

  • repetition
  • understatement
  • parallel structure

Can adults forbid love from blossoming in the young?

Is humanity weak?

Is it strong to resist love?

To what extent do you see similarities between the attitudes and behaviours expressed in this poem, and those with which you are personally familiar?

What do you like about this poem?

What do you dislike?

“Life in Our Village” by Matei Markwei
In our village
When elders are around,
Boys must not look at girls
And Girls must not look at boys
Because the elder say
That is not good.

Even when night comes
Boys must play separately,
Girls must play separately.
But humanity is weak
So boys and girls meet.

The boys play hide and seek
And the girls play hide and seek.
The boys know where the girls hide
And the girls know where the boys hide –
So in their hide and seek,
Boys seek girls
Girls seek boys,
And each to each sing
Songs of love.

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Who doesn’t love a list? So write one! Top five slices of pizza in your town, ten reasons disco will never die, the three secrets to happiness – go silly or go deep, just go list-y.

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Gaining Yardage

“Gaining Yardage” by Leo Dangel is a casually worded free-verse poem. It reads like a conversation and tells the story of two young people – friends – who play football with equal anility (not very well); and how they work together to get a touchdown.


The value of friendship is inexpressible.


Wordplay, jargon (football-related).


Are Arlo and the speaker friends?

What makes someone a good friend?

What ideas does this poem share about friendship? Do you agree?

What is odd about the last two lines of this poem?

List the jargon used in the poem. Find definitions of each term. Do the definitions you find work within the context of the poem?

Examine the poem’s use of pronouns. Is the antecedent for each pronoun always clear? What would you recommend the poet do to solve his pronoun problems?


“Gaining Yardage” by Leo Dangel
The word friend never came up
between Arlo and me – we’re farm neighbors
who hang around together, walk beans,
pick rocks, and sit on the bench
at football games, weighing the assets
of the other side’s cheerleaders.
Tonight we lead 48 to 6, so the coach
figures sending us both in is safe.
I intercept an underthrown pass
only because I’m playing the wrong position,
and Arlo is right there to block for me
because he’s in the wrong place,
so we gallop up the field, in the clear
until their second-string quarterback
meets us at the five-yard line,
determined to make up for his bad throw.
Arlo misses the block, the guy has me
by the leg and jersey, and going down,
I flip the ball back to Arlo, getting up,
who fumbles, and their quarterback
almost recovers, then bobbles the ball
across the goal line, and our coach,
who told even the guys with good hands
never to mess around with laterals,
must feel his head exploding,
when Arlo and I dive on the ball together
in the end zone and dance and slap
each other on the back.
They give Arlo the touchdown, which rightly
should be mine, but I don’t mind,
and I suppose we are friends, and will be,
unless my old man or his decides to move
to another part of the country.

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Nature Personified

Watch some living creature(s) in their natural environment: a nest of garter snakes, an orb spider, a gopher mound.

Write a short story featuring the creatures, but describe them with human characteristics: personify.

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Futuristic Story

Write a futuristic story in which you present your vision of life twenty years from now.

Read an interview with Derrick de Kerckhove, author of The Augmented Mind.

How will people in the future be “always on” or “plugged in”? What will “cloud computing” look like in twenty years? What “next big thing” will replace Facebook?

How many “degrees of separation” will exist between you and your friends, your family, your children, your spouse?

How will people use their imagination twenty years from now? Will they still have one?

Kerckhove says we exist in “the era of the tag” and “tagging … is the soul of the Internet.” What remains to be tagged in the next twenty years? What will the Internet be like in twenty years?

As of 2011 more than 2.2 billion people—nearly a third of Earth’s Human population—used the services of the Internet.
… the average UK employee spent 57 minutes a day surfing the Web while at work, according to a 2003 study

Will one of the oldest forum threads on the Internet still exist in twenty years? “I am lonely will anyone speak to me”?

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Earth House Analogy

Write an essay based on an extended analogy between a house and our planet Earth.

First brainstorm or freewrite, because analogies demand free use of our imagination. Next write a rapid and free “discovery draft.” Let it sit at least one day, then develop your concept through at least one more draft, adding the kinds of vivid images needed to spark the reader’s imagination.

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The Artist in Society – Alone, Isolated, and Alienated

Northrop Frye, the famous Canadian literary critic, said “…we may come to realize that two essential facts about a work of art — that it is contemporary with its own time and that it is contemporary with ours — are not opposed but complementary facts.”

Tennyson‘s “Lady of Shalott” and Elton John‘s “Candle in the Wind” reinforce this statement.

Write a persuasive essay convincing the reader that the plight of the artist in society has not changed over the centuries — that to be a master in a field is to be alone, isolated, and alienated.

The Lady of Shalott: Study Guide

The 5 Paragraph Essay (template)

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