EH 1302 -- WRITING ASSIGNMENTS
Why are we doing this.
Is writing something you do just because you have to? To pass a class? To graduate from college? Or, is it true that the pen actually is mightier then the sword. In this project, that's what you're going to try to find out. Using what you've learned about ethics and making ethical decisions, you'll identify an injustice, either at Faulkner, or in the larger community. Then, using what you know about political rhetoric, and building an appeal, you'll make an argument that alerts people to the injustice, educates them about it, invites them to your point of view and even motivates them to act.
What exactly do you want me to do for this assignment?
First , determine the injustice on campus or your community that you want to target. Describe it in a short paragraph that will serve as an introduction to the problem.
Next, using the following resources and put together an annotated bibliography with 5 - 8 sources that specifically address the injustice. Consider using sources from:
--Faulkner Library virtual databases
--Books and Magazines from the library shelves (2-3)
--Newspaper articles from newspapers like The Spire, The Montgomery Advertiser or the Birmingham News (2-3)
Then , using these sources, write a brief history of the injustice that addresses when, where and how this problem has occurred before. In your brief, also describe one example where people have responded to and tried to fix this injustice, and analyze their results. How effective were they? What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What would you do different? (Positioning your argument in this way can lend depth and credibility to your argument, eventually helping to persuade others to contribute to your cause. What's more, the research itself should help you to determine the kinds of action plan that will best suit your social and material context.)
Once you've done the background work, add to your brief by addressing how it is affecting Faulkner or the community today. Interview at least three people who are either hurt by the injustice or somehow involved in causing or perpetuating it. Use their information, plus your own observation to demonstrate concretely how the injustice impacts people today. Show who is most deeply hurt by the injustice and demonstrate how it affects them. Be sure this section provides the development - that is the detailed information to develop and support your main idea.
Next write a proposal that describes what you think is a solution to the injustice. In other words, what would be a better alternative?
Then list five actions that you and/or your supporters who want to correct this injustice could take. (The action items can include anything from writing a letter to the editor, writing and collecting signatures for a petition, producing a TV or radio commercial, establishing a web site, creating a community organization, writing your congressperson, lobbying the legislature, writing an op-ed piece, organizing a legal action, giving a speech, creating an e-zine, making flyers, leaflets or posters, organizing a demonstration etc.). However, at least two of them need to involve writing. Also include some brief comments on each of the five items that explains:
1. Why the action makes sense.
2. Who would be involved or impacted by the action.
3. If it involves mobilizing people, how you would persuade them to take an active role.
4. What results you expect and why.
Finally, actually do one of the written projects on your list (a letter to the editor, a mission statement on a petition, a script for a TV or radio commercial etc.)
Then organize your material in essay form, that you will turn in, in written form on Monday, Feb 1. Include an annotated bibliography.
Plan on a minimum of 1,500 words for the package, not including the bibliography.
Audience (Your Readers):
Who are we writing this for?
--People suffering from the injustice
--People you want to mobilize to your cause
--Perpetuators of the injustice who you want to try to change
--The general public who you want to persuade to believe what you have to say.
Purpose: Why are we doing this?
One of the primary functions of a university education is to instill within students a good sense of ethics. Ethics, simply put, are notions of right and wrong, but they are not universal and not nearly as well-defined as most people would like. Students should learn about the consequences of their actions and appreciate the difficulty of making ethical decisions. This project is designed to teach you about ethics and how to write persuasively about making an ethical decision.
Assignment: What exactly do you want us to do for this project?
Below are some sample topics:
Write for the Elie Wiesel Foundation Ethics Prize, http://www.eliewieselfoundation.org/EthicsPrize/Message.htm
For this project, we will use the databases available through the Faulkner Library. To access this database, you must first login to http://www.faulkner.edu, then select Faulkner Libraries. Select Databases. This will take you to a page with a link with a list of the various databases available.
Browse through and select one of the many articles available.
Write a 1000 word essay in which you take a position on one of these issues. For example, if you select "Are Stronger Anti-Doping Policies Needed?" your essay will either argue YES or NO, and provide plenty of supporting evidence for that ethical decision. Remember, you are not merely presenting the facts; you are arguing about the RIGHT thing to do given these facts. You will need at least 3 other sources for your essay (newspaper/magazine articles, books, or articles).
Consider a story or film or documentary that you have read or seen that addresses an ethical issue.
Casualties of War
Bowling for Columbine
Ground Hog Day
A Christmas Carol
Convey your experience with the text. How did your point of view shift from that of a disinterested observer to an identification with an ethical point of view? Can you see the narrative or film from the point of view of a disinterested observer/bystander? How does disinterestedness give way to identification with the victim?
Audience: Who are we writing this for?
Write for the Ellie Wiesel Foundation Prize in Ethics http://www.eliewieselfoundation.org/EthicsPrize/Message.htm
Your AUDIENCE for this essay will be Faulkner Student Community . Imagine that you are writing a lengthy feature for the Spire. Better yet, imagine Faulkner is preparing to run a writing contest on writing about ethics and that the winning texts will be featured on the Faulkner website and print media.
You should write clearly and backup your statements with quotations and references to other research. You may use either the MLA or the APA citation method to accomplish this.
Additional Help: Can you recommend additional sources of information for this project?
For a large, general overview of ethics, read this entry at the Wikipedia. Consider, in particular, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics#Is_ethics_futile.3F
Check out this awesome site on ethics:http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/ethicalperspectives/
Purpose: Why are we doing this?
Globalization is a word that most of us hear often without really knowing what it means. The term is most often used to refer to the increasing transport, commerce, and communication among the various countries and peoples of the world spurred by technology and trade. Many people are concerned that this increased interaction among countries is often advantageous to powerful countries like the US, but harmful to smaller countries, who may suffer exploitation and "cultural erosion" as a result of globalization. Other people refer to globalization as a positive force improving the quality of life of everyone it touches--advances in science, medicine, and food production may offer tremendous benefits to developing countries. However, these advances may bring with them unwelcome changes or influences that affect a culture and conflict with its values.
In this project, you explore the impact of globalization on political, economic, environmental, and/or ethical issues on a particular culture. You will study how cultures have been influenced by globalization. By the end, you will have a better understanding of globalization and a more informed view of this difficult, yet critical issue.
Assignment: What exactly do you want us to do for this project?
First, conduct some research into globalization and its effects on developing countries. A good place to start is the definition of globalization. When you feel you have a basic understanding of globalization, move on to exploring an aspect of globalization that truly interests you enough to write about and take a powerful stand on.
When you have selected a topic and decided how you feel about a globalization issue, you are ready to write your essay. Remember to write at least a 1000 words and support your position very thoroughly with supporting details and quotations and references from other authors. Just remember, if you can't find a source yourself, you can always use the ASK-A-LIBRARIAN.
Audience: Who are we writing this for?
You are writing this essay for publication in a fictional publication called "Perspectives on Globalization." The audience who reads this publication are well-read, highly-educated people who demand the very best in well-written, well-researched articles on their favorite subject matter. You will only satisfy them if you are able to cite quality sources and backup your opinions with solid research and reasoning.
Additional Help: Can you recommend additional sources of information for this project?
There are many great websites dedicated to globalization. You may want to visit http://globalization.about.com/ , http://www.ifg.org/ , http://www.emory.edu/SOC/globalization/ , and http://www.globalresearch.ca/ .
Write an argumentative essay about a topic of your choice. Use at least three sources, citing them parenthetically in the text, and include a list of "Works Cited" following MLA format. Length should be a minimum of three full pages (typed, double-spaced). Maximum length should be six pages.
Write an annotated bibliography. Details to follow. See the help section for ideas and assistance. You must include at least 15 sources.
REMEMBER: This project counts 20 percent of your final grade
STUDENT: Hey Cindy, you said we had to do a big research paper that was 10 to 15 pages long, but you haven't given us the assignment yet. What gives? What do you want anyway?
PROF; Well, you're right. I have said you are going to write a research paper. But, I always get irritated with the question, "What do you want?" It seems to say that I have some secret idea that isn't what any other teacher wants, and you'll give me whatever it is, if I just tell you how to do it. I wish things were that simple. But, if you'll be more specific, I'll try to answer all reasonable questions. It's true that I haven't told you HOW to do this paper.
STUDENT: When's it due?
PROF: That's easy. Check your syllabus.
STUDENT: Well, do you want a bibliography and footnotes and all that stuff?
PROF: Your finished paper will have three parts: there will be a title page (which you should design like you've done every other essay for this class, with the usual information on it), the body of your text (double-spaced with wide margins and the pages numbered in the upper right hand corner) and finally a "Works Cited" page.
STUDENT: What's the difference between that last "Cited" and a bibliography?
PROF: Well, the "Works Cited" is actually a bibliography, but it's a selective bibliography because it only includes the works you have actually cited in your paper somewhere, not all the works you consulted but chose not to use.
STUDENT: So we only put in the list the sources we have quoted?
PROF: No, that's not what I said. You put in the list any source you have cited. And you will cite (in parenthesis) any source you took any information, any idea, any phrase from. REMEMBER this Law of Citations, "When in doubt, cite." Lots of student papers use ideas or phrases that a reader can tell came from some source. If the source isn't cited, that is plagiarism. A big no-no. Make sure you check the university's policy on plagiarism.
STUDENT: Well, what form are these cites supposed to be in? I learned a form in high school, sort of. It was a form for bibliographies and one for footnotes. But I don't know if they are what you mean. English teachers never agree about anything. I remember we even had to learn a bunch of Latin phrases like, "Ibid."
PROF: Well, you're in luck on that. The Latin phrases are basically not used any more. We will be using MLA style. There's nothing magical about it, and I don't recommend that you try to memorize it. The point is to learn the principles of fair citation of sources, and then to learn to follow whatever style sheet you need at the time. Someday you may be asked to use APA style, or a style used in the sciences.
And, by the way, just so the citations in the final paper will be in good form, I want you to turn in a complete bibliography of all the sources you have been able to locate so I can check it. This is due Wednesday, April 16, alphabetized by author. If you have a whole group of articles from the same newspaper, you don't have to list every one of them separately at this point. Just give me one sample to check the form and then put a note by it that you have lots of others.
STUDENT: But this is all just formal junk. And we all know that you tell us that form is not as important as the content. What sort of topic are we supposed to write on and what sort of paper?
PROF: Well, in one sense you're right about the form not being as important. Just REMEMBER, first impressions go a long way. If the paper looks bad, no one will want to read it. And if no one wants to read it, that includes me.
About topics: you can write on anything you really care about and want to learn more about.On Wednesday, you should bring a list of three (count 'em 3) possible topics for class.
What are some possibilities? You might want to pursue any issue raised by your previous papers. Or you might want to pick a topic related to another course you are taking, so that you could use this opportunity to learn more about something interesting in American History, or some new breakthrough in the agricultural field. You could also do some research about a profession you think you might end up in. Teachers in America? Computer Technicians? If you have a serious hobby, you could pursue some interest in it.
STUDENT: That's not much guidance!!!!! How many sources do we have to find?
PROF: I assume that question is based on some experience you had in high school. I want this to be as little dummy-run exercise as possible. If you want to learn about this topic in order to write a good paper, the only answer is as many sources as you can find. If a reporter were assigned to write a piece on one of the Presidential candidates, she wouldn't ask the editor, how many sources do I have to find about the candidate.
To be even more specific, I want you to locate all the relevant sources our library has, plus any others you can find, including interviews with people on- or off-campus. And for the library, this means using all the relevant indexes, not just the Reader's Guide and the card catalogue and the Magazine Index. I want you to use the newspaper indexes and specialized indexes like the Humanities Index. Probably even government documents. (Obviously one of my objectives in this assignment is to teach you how to really use the library effectively.) The web will be a good source, but you must use a number of other sources. If you need help, ask the library staff.
STUDENT: Are we supposed to just sum up all this stuff, or can we put our own opinion afterwards?
PROF: Wait a second. We aren't looking for a summary at all. We are looking for you to write an argumentative paper -- just like you've been writing all semester. It will have a purpose, maybe even one in enthymeme form.
STUDENT: But I don't understand. What's to argue when we have just read all this stuff?
PROF: AHA!!!! That's probably the best question of all. As you read about your topic, you are going to look for unsettled issues. That is, you are going to be looking for what psychologist call "cognitive dissonance." As you read, keep asking yourself this question, "What do the people who discuss my topic disagree about?" When you find such a question that interests you, then you have a real topic for research.
STUDENT: Great. So we have to give an answer to a question that the published authors don't have one to.
PROF: Not necessarily. If you think, after reading widely and carefully, that one of the answers to this question is better than the others, then you may actually take that view in your paper. In this case, the answer has indeed become your opinion. It may not have been your opinion when you started, but that doesn't matter. (In fact, if you come to a new opinion, we might call this learning.) DO NOT, under any circumstances, begin with a viewpoint and go hunting for evidence to support it.
But, if you think there are a lot of good arguments for several positions, then that in itself might be your purpose. Or you might make it your goal to clarify why the professional/expert writers disagree.
Or, if you are writing on some current field of inquiry, you might even write about the most recent findings or inventions for, let us say, male birth control.
STUDENT: What about the form of the paper itself? Can I say "I" or use contractions?
PROF: You may do both if you feel it helps get your message across. Good writers do. Notice, however, good writers don't make themselves the subject of a major sentence. They don't say, "I believe nineteenth century writers are highly literate." They would say instead, "Nineteenth century writers are highly literate." We know how the writer thinks or he wouldn't have said it.
By the way, you can also use headings if you like to keep the stages of the paper clear. I don't generally advocate outlines, but this paper will be large enough that I don't see how you can write it without some sort of preliminary plan. That way, you break it into related pieces, and you can write one piece at a time. This task is too large to do even a full draft in one sitting. I strongly suggest that you do it in chunks of a couple of pages at a time.
STUDENT: You said we had to cite everything we got from a source. Good grief, that could mean a citation at the end of every sentence.
PROF: Well, in fact, it could mean more than that. I have seen a single sentence with three different citations in it because it pulled together information from three different sources.
But, if you find that you are citing every sentence, it means you have a problem. It means you aren't doing any actual interpreting/arguing about what you've found. I don't want a data dump. I want a reasoned argument in which you USE the material.
STUDENT: Gee. How long is this thing supposed to be anyway?
PROF: I can't really tell. And you know how I hate that question. That depends on the question you end up trying to answer and on how much information you find and how much information seems to be needed to offer a credible answer. A shrewd student shapes the central question so that he or she can give a thorough and convincing answer in the space he or she is willing to devote. From past experience, I would think a research paper of this sort is not likely to be less than 10 pages. (Not counting the "Works Cited pages." ) I have seen students get very involved in a complex topic and write a forty-page paper.
STUDENT: GREAT!!!! I was already feeling way behind about the semester.
PROF: You're right. This isn't easy. But it's important, and you will learn a lot from doing it. Choose your topic with care. You are going to live with it. And once you begin work, you can't change it.
My final advice is to get started now. I have paced you until it is due. Pay close attention to your syllabus and get here with the assigned material.
Despite all this, I know other questions will come up. Be sure to ask them when they arise. We'll devote every class meeting between now and April 26 to this project. Of course, if I find that you are not getting to class with the work I've asked you to bring, I will add more reading assignments to the syllabus and you can work on this paper without my assistance and the collaboration of your classmates.
DUE: Monday, April 28 at NOON!
We've made it to the end of the semester. As you can see, the ranks are smaller now then the first day of class. Congratulations on making it this far. Only one more thing to do. The PORTFOLIO.
What is a portfolio? Well, it is a collection of your best work. Pick two of the four assignments and rework each paper. Re-vision the paper. Re-think the paper. Re-see the paper. Then re-write the paper, showing everything you've learned in this class. These papers will be the bulk of your grade, so make sure that you give them everything you've got.
Remember to check your arguments. Are they sound? Do they lead to a conclusion? Ask yourself: Do I know the purpose of my paper and do I achieve that purpose? Will a reader know my purpose and believe I've achieved my goals? Remember to proofread. If I get to the fifth grammatical mistake, I will stop reading. No credit. No pass.
Put these two papers in the left hand pocket of a folder. On top, put an essay arguing your grade for the class. Show me how you feel you've improved over the semester (as a writer). Show me why you believe you deserve this grade. Discuss what you did in each of your revisions that improved the paper. Be specific about the changes you made and why.
Remember to include in your evaluation the number of absences, late papers, and days you were prepared, or unprepared, for class (especially workshop days).
In the right hand pocket put all of the assignments (formal writing assignments) that I have returned to you. Put them in order beginning with assignment #1. If an assignment is missing, put an explanation in its place. "I lost it" is not an explanation.