The un-essay replaces a final paper for my Fundamentals of Biological Anthropology class. Some may say (and I have seen vicious comments on Twitter) that an un-essay is a missed opportunity for students to write a paper and get feedback on that paper. I absolutely agree that students need to learn how to write and how to write well. However, I also understand that they write in many classes, and that many classes squash rather than encourage creativity. Also, please keep in mind that my students have 1-2 writing prompts a week, and I read and provide feedback on each and every one.
An un-essay allows students to flex muscle they rarely get to flex, and allows them to engage with material in a way they normally wouldn’t. Furthermore, students have stated that they remember what they did far into the future, while they will forget what they wrote about in a paper the moment that paper is turned in. Finally, students actually express how proud they are of their un-essays and talk about how they show them off to friends and family.
All this is to say, don’t let negativity surrounding this kind of project get you down. This assignment has allowed me a more clear window into each of my students more than any paper ever could.
Un-Essay Guidelines – borrowed heavily from the amazing Marc Kissel
Fundamentals of Biological Anthropology Un-Essay Fall 2021
Anthropology of Sports Un-Essay Fall 2021
Examples of Student Work
Please keep in mind this is only a sample. One of my favorite un-essays came from Laura Funk who did a Barstool Anthropology video. During this she made themed mixed drinks and developed hypotheses to explain patterns we see in the hominin fossil record. It was gloriously well thought out and produced. I also had a number of students turn in infographics on the obstetric dilemma vs. the EGG hypothesis and on sexual harassment in the field of anthropology. I was beyond proud of all of my students.
- Helton Rodriguez Bio Anthro Unessay – a poem about Lucy
Huggins project statement & reflection
McGowan Unessay Project Statement and Self-Reflection
4. Mancuso Unessay What We Hold in Our Hips and Mancuso Un-Essay Project Statement
5. Kilbane-Unessay Neandertal Children’s Book and Kilbane Un-Essay Project Statement
6. Michael Miramontes’ video critiquing the accuracy of the movie Ice Age and Miramontes Project Statement
7. Molly O’Brien podcast about birth and O’Brien Project Statement
9. Grade School Lesson Plans by Katherine Franz
10. John Hlavin’s Interview of Father Terry
11. Ancient Agriculture Wiki Page by Nick Iovino
Jessica O’Neill Project Statement
17. Amy Bahadursingh Lucy Blog
18. Ailish Chambers Unessay Poem
19. Briana Olney Rustic Simple Vegan Cookbook Book Cover and Briana Olney Unessay Statement
Madison Calder Project Statement
21. Calla Sullivan The Female Athlete & Birth Control Brochure
Isabella Cardamone Unessay Project Statement
25. Maggie Marinovich Unessay Student-Athlete Cookbook and Maggie Marinovich, Un-Essay Project Statement
26. Priscilla Angkasa slam poem “Girls Can’t Play Soccer” and Priscilla Angkasa Unessay Project Statment
27. Maxwell Reed’s website on sports and patriotism
28. Meagan Moore’s website on gendered differences in sports.
29. Clarissa Fuentes Sydney Martinez Unessay- Evolutionary Medicine Infographic – sorry, some images are blurry because I had to do a major pdf compression
30. Ridiculously amazing rap about origins of bipedalism hypotheses by Scott Lucitt & Matt Yuro
31. Fossil hominin ranking by Alex Matarazzo
32. An interactive virtual art exhibit on race and health disparities by Callie Coors, Abigail Dobbies, & Luke Ferrante