Paragraph Topics for Cursus Scriptorum

These topics are provided for students to use for various exercises. Most of them are suited to a one-paragraph essay or similar treatment; for longer papers, talk to one of the teachers.

Not all topics have to be serious, and fun topics can work your compositional skills as easily as anything else, really.

You are not limited to these topics for your paragraphs, but if need some, this is a place to start. We intend to add to this list periodically throughout the year, but if you come to the well and find it dry—that is, you have done all the topics that are relevant from the list already—then please don’t hesitate to let us know. It’s likely we will have noticed by that point, but sometimes we’re slow picking things up.

American History

[Any time] Write a paragraph explaining the South's reasons for seceding during the US Civil War. Then write a paragraph explaining the North's reasons for opposing secession.

[Any time] What is Abraham Lincoln's thesis in the Gettysburg Address? Explain your reasoning.

[Any time] What is Abraham Lincoln's thesis in the Second Inaugural? Explain your reasoning.

[Any time] In one paragraph, define capitalism and briefly summarize its costs and benefits. In a second paragraph, define communism and briefly summarize its costs and benefits.

[Any time] Read or listen to Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, in full. What is Dr. King's thesis in this speech? Explain your reasoning.

[Any time] Explain the term "separation of powers" as it pertains to the three branches of the US Federal government.

[Any time] Define the term "state" in your own words. Be sure that your definition could be globally applicable and does not have a North American bias.

[Any time] Examine the "upside-down map," for example this one, and write a paragraph explaining why or why not it should be used in schools.

Miscellaneous imponderables

[Any time] Write a paragraph explaining the benefits of always leaving your shoes untied.

[Any time] Write a paragraph in defense of the existence of mosquitoes.

[Any time] Write a paragraph to a significantly older relative or acquaintance, age 65 or older, on why using abbreviations such as "l8r" and "rofl" in texting and online chatting is acceptable.

[Any time] Take one school-appropriate internet meme and explain why it is funny.

[Any time] Write a paragraph arguing against the existence of the platypus — either why it should not exist or why you believe it does not exist.

[Any time] Write a paragraph comparing apples and oranges.

[Any time] Explain why your favorite superhero is, or is not, efficient in protecting ordinary citizens. Use examples from comic books, TV, and/or movies.

[Any time] Write a paragraph criticizing or defending the inclusion of the letter Q in the alphabet.

[Any time] If you had to live in any time and place in history other than your own — for the rest of your natural life — where and when would you live? Explain your thinking and your reasoning in a paragraph.

[Any time] Write a paragraph explaining why Daylight Savings Time should be eliminated or preserved.

[Any time] Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Explain your reasoning thoroughly.

[Any time] Construct a paragraph, with a clear thesis statement and several sentences of supporting evidence, on why the chicken crossed the road.

[Any time] If all books were going to be burned, and you could memorize one book to preserve its knowledge, which one would you save, and why? You may not choose the Bible, as that's a little obvious, but you may choose one book of the Bible. Your answer must still explain why you chose to preserve that book over all the others.