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205.3 Researched 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 first half of the semester with reading, talking, analyzing, summarizing, and paraphrasing, we are making a turn into a seven-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 popular culture, new media, and the ways specific examples of each challenge contemporary (and increasingly participatory, some would argue) audiences. 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 areas.

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. You have already done a considerable amount of research in Unit Two. Now it is time to re-think that work in terms of production, revisiting it with a focus on how it will aid you in generating an approach to this third unit.

The Assignment

You will produce a researched argument germane to some topic(s) tied to conversations we have already begun to explore this semester related to popular culture and new media. The project will 1.) contextualize a dissoi logoi argument (i.e., you will establish and strengthen a "weaker" position) 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 from a range of perspectives. And it will be evident 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 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. We will work collectively in class to generate lists of possibilities and questions we can use to guide us through the coming weeks.

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 Friday, April 24, at 3 p.m.. 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).

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
Spring '09 office hours: Mon., 9-10 a.m.
Phone: (315) 708-3940


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