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195.3 Research/Argument

"A few years back, I wrote a book about lobsters. At first, I didn't intend it to be a book. I didn't think there was that much to say about lobsters. But the more I researched the subject, the more questions I had and the more places I found to look for answers. Pretty soon, I had 300 pages of manuscript" (21). Bruce Ballenger, The Curious Researcher

Now that we've occupied the better part of six weeks with reading, talking, analyzing, summarizing, and paraphrasing, we are making a turn into a six-week unit concerned foremost with the development of a researched argument. The research you do will extend from the conversations we have already started related to the maturation and expansion of Google, the changing nature of reading in an age of digital interfaces, and the delicate (perhaps shifting) balance in our literacy ecologies between old and new media, between familiar and experimental practices. Your researched argument will take a step into this fray and, ultimately, evoke for your audience insights about some line of inquiry related to these topics or others related to them.

Initially, we will open with the inventive question that springs up at the start of any writing project: Where to begin? In the first segment of this unit, we will devote considerable time to bouncing around ideas, talking through possible projects, focusing in on viable questions, and testing out tentative plans with our peers, guided primarily by the question, "Would you be interested in such a thing as this?" We will also dig more deeply into processes of invention and preliminary research techniques, all the while giving shape to the project that will slowly and steadily come together in the weeks ahead.

The Assignment

You will produce a researched argument germane to some topic(s) tied to conversations we have already begun to explore this semester. The project will 1.) articulate a formal or informal argument (see pp. 19 in CDA) and 2.) demonstrate your improving facility with research. That is, it will include an arguable claim that will evolve throughout the project, growing in sophistication and complexity as you deepen your discussion of the topic. And it will searched that you have searched widely, selecting a rich and diverse range of resources to work with (academic and non-academic resources, alike). The research you include in your piece may reflect practices of sampling, direct quotation, paraphrase, and summary; these will lend shape to the argument you develop.

In the next two weeks, you will be asked to work within the frameworks offered in Compose, Design, Advocate to develop a preliminary plan, which you will follow with a more elaborate and detailed plan. Your plan will establish more concretely that you have committed to an area of focus; a preliminary claim, set of claims, or questions; research materials; and media. You will find each of these planning points explained more fully in Chapter Two of CDA. We will work collectively in class to generate lists of possibilities and questions we can use to guide us through the coming weeks. You will also have several opportunities to work on your project in class. This is, after all, a workshop, and we will enjoy greater flexibility in the weeks ahead to interact informally during class as we work on our respective projects.

Assignment Details
Your researched argument, depending on the medium (or mediums) you adopt, will be more than 2400 words (i.e., >8 pp.) in length, typed and double-spaced. If you elect to incorporate non-standard media in your project, your work should reflect a comparable scope of depth and engagement (certainly this will be a conversation we should have if you decide to work beyond the default materials of black and white ink on a page). The essay and project 3 portfolio are due on Tuesday, November 18. Please use MLA citation within the body of your essay and on a Works Cited page, and please include an appropriate title for your essay.

WC Incentive
Include evidence of two consulting sessions (at least 1.5 hours) at the Writing Center in your Invention Portfolio to earn extra credit valued at one grading increment (i.e., a 'B' becomes a 'B+', a 'C-' becomes a 'C', and so on.

The Long View
Project 4 asks you to develop a presentation of your Unit 3 project. We will be following the Pecha Kucha presentation model, which means that there will be a slideshow: 20 slides timed to rotate automatically after 20 seconds (i.e., a 6:40 presentation and unscripted talk). You will have time to work on this later, but you should be aware of it as you make decisions for the current project.

Evaluation Criteria

Your project will be evaluated on each of the following:

Each item listed above will be evaluated on the following scale:


NA: Not applied. The writer has not applied the criterion in the project.
NI: Needs improvement. The writer has minimally applied the criterion in the project.
AC: Acceptable/meets expectations. The writer has applied the criterion to a satisfactory degree.
EX: Exceptional. The writer has applied the criterion with distinction.

Contact Information

Derek Mueller
Office: HBC 002
Fall '08 office hours: Thur., 11-Noon
Phone: (315) 708-3940
Class listserv: wrt195@listserv.syr.edu


"Google has been my best friend lately." -Anonymous student commenting on research-in-progress

googol n. - A fanciful name (not in formal use) for ten raised to the hundredth power (10100). -Oxford English Dictionary

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