WRT 105: Argument Essay

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WRT 105-FALL 2004 | Unit 3-Sampling Argument

Unit Readings
Becky Howard, "Plagiarisms, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty," CEWT, pp. 265-282.
Jeff Rice, "The 1963 Hip-Hop Machine: Hip-Hop Pedagogy as Composition," CEWT, pp. 471-486.
Selections from The Informed Argument

In "The 1963 Hip-Hop Machine," Jeff Rice spells out an alternative to the Well"standardized methodology inherited from figures like Toulmin." He shows how we might undertake argumentative projects premised on the logic of hip-hop, projects rendered from temporal or spatial sampling (cut, paste, whatever). Rice explicitly tells us that the "ultimate test" for such a project is to recognize that the process of sampling and re-mixing needn't only apply to hip-hop; we're merely appropriating a general methodology of hip-hop and putting it to use for our own argumentative projects.

For the last six weeks of the semester, we'll study Rice's essay, searching carefully for the argumentative method he urges us to perform. Then, we'll adopt the method, perform it. In many ways, it's that simple. But it's also complex because it will require us to make sense of more conventional dispensations of argument, such as the Toulmin model (claim, data, warrant) and the classical rhetorical conditions of logos, ethos and pathos. Reading from Yagelski and Miller's The Informed Argument will ground us in these conventional terms. In the chapter devoted to "The Media for Argument," The Informed Argument will also compel us toward Rice's model.

Writing Assignment
Unit 3 lasts six weeks and culminates in a 7-9 page argumentative sampler-essay. Throughout the project, you should prefer the intricate, analytical approaches we've practiced this semester. And while we'll invent ideas by attending to dissimilarities among our samples, we'll continue to problematize the obvious and value, through analysis, critical perspectives more than commonplaces.

Here's how it will come together:

Begin by selecting a year. Choose a year before 1999. Dig around for interesting moments--instances (as cuts, pastes, whatever) that you find through research, curiosity. Rice tells us temporal research can play among "a range of disciplines (film, politics, science, music, television, sports, etc.)," and to the etc. I would add architecture, disaster and response, criminality, urban crisis, rally and media ruse among others we'll tease out in class. Develop at least four instances--cuts that give body to the temporal-spatial selection(s). If it helps to think of these cuts as sources, that's fine, but they should be dissimilar, and they should work across multiple media forms (image, sound, text, tv advertisement, film, lyric, graffiti, flash, comic, figurine). Their dissimilarity will provide you with samples for juxtaposition, for mixing that tests the limits of what your mix brings together.

Following this alternative model, here's what we can expect: Each student

  • "gain[s] insights into the process of research"
  • "finds a common pattern or element that binds these moments together"
  • "understands how to form a claim out of research and investigation"
  • "juxtaposes these moments in a variety of ways and thus learns about organization"
  • "locates her own position within the various cultural ideological, economic, racial, gendered, etc., discussions constantly taking place around her"
  • "creates an argument"

You will advance the argument, an argument you arrive at only after reading theOtto disparities in your selections (cuts, pastes, whatever), through the second half of the essay-project--the mix. The mix will present a re-organization of samples from the temporal-spatial selections at the beginning of your project. The mix will "confront" the samples and, therefore, construct an argument attendant to a pattern you recognize and complicate. The entire project will become clearer as we read Rice's essay and look at various models. In general, the following precepts may guide your work:

  • Attune your argument-mix to four particular selections (cut, paste, whatever) from a particular year.
  • Choose to work with selections from multiple forms of media (image, sound, text, tv advertisement, film, lyric, graffiti, flash, comic, figurine)
  • Set out with a suspended sense of determination. Allow your own curiosities and interests to influence your selections.
  • Let your discoveries, insights, realizations, claims, or theories serve as the driving force behind the essay-project. In other words, make these things prominent-use them to create shifts or transitions as you build paragraphs or make your way from one discussion to another.

As an alternative to a paper-bound project, you may develop a web site or other digital production for essay-project three.

WRT 105: Grading Cues Essay #3 Sampling Argument

[1] How well does the title provocatively and productively focus the reader's attention?

[2] How effectively does the writer sample and remix from the originary, dissimilar cuts, assembling them into an intelligible, argumentative production?

[3] How carefully and thoughtfully does the writer elaborate the samples (cut, paste, whatever) before rendering the mix?

[4] How well does the writer develop specific, argumentative claims about a particular time, place or issue by confronting disparities in the selections?

[5] Does the writer frame the mix with formal citations to at least four carefully chosen and appropriately supportive outside texts (conceived broadly to include various media forms)?

[6] How well does the writer make things explicit (e.g., details, not generalizations; claims, not clichés)?

[7] How well did the writer address surface level matters related to grammar, style, and usage?