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Essay #2: Controversy Analysis

We talk to other people because we live in the world with them. Even if, sometimes, we feel it is not worth all the trouble listening to other people and finding the right words to say back to thembe they friend, acquaintance, colleague, or just another person on the streetthose should not be the defining moments in our lives together. Talking, telling, speaking, stammering, discussing, conversing, shouting, rapping, schmoozing, whispering, arguingthese are some of the most pleasurable ways we live our daily lives together and remake our worlds. Let us not overlook the range of possible joys in this basic fact of our existence with others. Dennis A. Lynch and Anne Frances Wysocki
Compose, Design, Advocate (2007), p. 224

How Long Should My Essay Be?


Your essay should be as long as it takes to make your point and fulfill the requirements outlined here. Most successful papers are at least 5 full pages.

Important Dates
3.4 Research Proposal is due in the D2L dropbox by 10 pm. This is a formal submission of the controversy you want to investigate. Compose your proposal according to the instructions listed under the Composing the Research Proposal heading of this assignment sheet. 3.10 Group conferences to discuss your Annotated Bibliography rough drafts. 3.11 Annotated Bibliography is due in the D2L dropbox by 5pm. Please see the separate Composing an Annotated Bibliography assignment sheet on D2L for more details. 3.22 and 3.24 Peer Response sessions for essay #2. 3.29 Final drafts of essay #2 are due at the beginning of class.

Purpose & Audience


Now that you have some experience analyzing the different ways arguments are put together, you are ready to look at the issues that generate those arguments and analyze arguments taking different viewpoints on a particular issue. By definition, an issue must have at least two different viewpoints addressing it, and the most complex issues have numerous viewpoints as well as multiple approaches to them. For this assignment, we will move beyond the problematic dualism of pro/con argumentation and, instead, identify and analyze controversies that have many sides. To complete this assignment, you will: identify a complex issue for investigation, conduct ethical research to discover the many sides of the issue, collect a variety of sources that shed light on the nuances of the issue, evaluate and analyze the rhetorical situations of those sources, and compose an essay that describes how the many sides of your issue are related or in conversation with each other. In other words, you will map the landscape of your controversy: How have people argued about this issue? What persuasive strategies have they used, and why did they use them? How are these diverse arguments related to one another?

As you compose your essay, please keep your audience (your classmates, me, the campus community, and you) in mind. Take Ciceros words to heart; as a rhetor, your duties are to teach, delight, and move your audience.

Londie Martin \ First-Year Writing II: Rhetorical Analysis and Argument \ Spring 2011

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Choosing a Controversy & Inventing a Research Question


Developing and pursuing interesting research questions can take some time; for this reason, you will need to identify a controversy very soon. I invite you to choose your own controversy (one that interests you) with the following limitation: your controversy must somehow be connected to a local issue and community. To get us started, I invite you to begin with the following line of questioning: What communities do you belong to? Think broadly about what might constitute a community, and try mapping them out in relationship to each other. What public issues are of most pressing concern to your communities? What controversies does your community care about? What places/spaces/environments do you regularly inhabit? What are some problems that these places might be facing? Here, I invite you to keep a log of your daily activities. What issues arise on any given day in your life?

We will explore additional methods of invention in class; however, if you are having trouble thinking of a controversy, I invite you to talk to me. You will need to have a controversy selected by March 4.

Composing the Research Proposal


The Research Proposal is a required short assignment and a formal submission of the controversy you want to investigate and your plan for conducting ethical research. It is due in class on March 4, and it should contain thorough, contextualized responses to the following information: 1) Purpose: What controversy will you explore? What do you already know about it, and why does it interest you? What do you hope to learn about the controversy through research? 2) Research Questions: What problem(s) is at the heart of your controversy? What is at stake for the communities involved in the controversy? What specific question(s) will help you focus your research? (See pp. 198-203 in Writing Public Lives for help with this.) 3) Many Sides: What range of arguments will you explore? Where and how will you look for sources? Who might you interview or survey? Why? Explain, in detail, your research plans, and remember to move beyond dichotomous pro/con argumentation and consider a variety of related perspectives on your controversy. 4) Community Relevance: What are the potential benefits of your research project? Who will benefit? What might we learn? Why might this topic be a good fit for you? 5) Ethical Research and Reflection: What are the potential drawbacks of your research project? What biases, perspectives, assumptions, or cultural standpoints do you have that might influence your research on this topic? How will you try to resolve and/or work with these challenges? 6) Further Inquiry: What questions do you still have about your particular controversy? What questions do you still have about the Controversy Analysis essay? You should use a memo format for your proposal. As a genre, memos are concise, direct, and visually formatted to highlight important categories and points. When you compose your memo, organize your information under subheadings that correspond to items 1-6. For help with memo formats, see the Purdue Online Writing Lab at: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/590/04/

Imagination & Invention: Drafting the Essay


After you have submitted your Research Proposal and your Annotated Bibliography (Ill address this in another assignment sheet), you will be ready to compose your Controversy Analysis essay. In this essay, you will present the findings that emerged in your research, taking care to rhetorically analyze each of the viewpointsthe argumentsthat you unearthed. As you examine each viewpoint, make sure that you give it a fair presentation (i.e., rhetorical listening). Analyze both the strengths and weaknesses of it. Use the words of the sources to help present the arguments
Londie Martin \ First-Year Writing II: Rhetorical Analysis and Argument \ Spring 2011 2|P a g e

and their supports. However, make sure the essay is your ownin other words, you are not going to stitch together a bunch of quotes or paraphrases. You are going to present these arguments in your own words, using quotes and paraphrases where appropriate to illustrate the arguments. You will need to analyze as well as present, so use quotes or paraphrases to illustrate strong points and flaws in the argument as well. Remember the rules of using sources: use them only to 1) illustrate, 2) clarify, or 3) provide examples to analyze or refute.

Requirements for Sources & Citations


You will need to use MLA documentation in this paper. You must also provide photocopies of your source materials if they are not freely available online. As you compose your final draft, remember to use a minimum of five separate sources in your essay. A minimum of two of these sources must come from print sources (books or articles) you found in the library (online or in the actual building). The rest may be a mixture of internet sources, interviews you conduct, stories you collect or find, films, poems, advertisements, etc. Interesting and thorough research happens when we consider a variety of media; throughout this assignment, I encourage you to think broadly about what we might consider a source. If youre ever unsure, see me, and well chat about it.

Deliverables
The final draft of your Controversy Analysis is due in class on March 29. Please submit the following in a flat folder: Final draft of your Controversy Analysis essay with Works Cited Page (page numbers, double spaced, 1 margins, 12 pt font, Times New Roman or some other readable font) Rough drafts of your Controversy Analysis essay A copy of your graded Annotated Bibliography A copy of your graded Research Proposal Photocopies of all sources used in your Controversy Analysis essay that are not available online Any notes or invention materials you think I should consider as I evaluate your work

Finally, A Word of Advice


Benjamin Franklin on procrastination: You may delay, but time will not.

Londie Martin \ First-Year Writing II: Rhetorical Analysis and Argument \ Spring 2011

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