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Assignment Sheet: Navigating Sources at Disagree
Adapted from Wardle and Downs’ Writing About Writing
Chris Friend • • Fall
In your last paper (Analysis of Science Accommodation), you examined multiple sources that reported on the
same information. You found diﬀerent explanations, but no disagreement. is time, your task is to ﬁnd multiplesources writing about a single arguable issue…but taking diﬀerent sides. Your sources need to disagree. We will beexamining how authors position themselves and their writing, and how they use writing to achieve a goal (see Haasand Flower, p. , ¶.).
When you found articles for the previous paper, the goals were essentially the same: to inform the audience about
a discovery. e biggest diﬀerence in the presentations was the audience and their values. To research this assignment,you will ﬁnd articles that intentionally diﬀer in their purposes, but the audience may not be so distinct. Identifyingthe purpose of writing can at times be diﬃcult.
For the Science Accommodation paper, the more blatantly diﬀerent the presentations were, the easier the paper
was for you to write. For this assignment, the more subtle
the diﬀerences, the easier your job becomes. You are taskedwith answering this question: How do authors on disagreeing sides of a published issue situate their arguments?To ﬁnd the answer, look at the moves made by the authors, not just the points they make. If your authors are simplystating a yes/no or agree/disagree issue, there’s little to analyze. But if you ﬁnd authors who have to carefully justifyor explain their stance, you have much more rhetoric to examine.
Because this is your ﬁnal major paper for the semester, you are expected to demonstrate a good deal of familiarity
with concepts discussed throughout the term. Overall, your paper should show that you can do the following:
Explain how readers construct texts.
Illustrate that meaning is socially constructed.
Synthesize multiple sources of information into a coherent argument.
Demonstrate facility with the terms exigence
(noun and verb), rhetorical situation
, and constraint
For this assignment, the text has additional details about the assignment (–) and a sample student
paper (–). is time, the sample paper was written by a student in a single semester at in the same course you are in. I recommend reading Talbot’s paper for an excellent example of this assignment.
at said, the process of building this paper breaks down into these general steps:
() Find a topic. Your topic must have multiple sides to it; there must be disagreement. at disagreement
should be murky and subtle; black-and-white or clear cases are harder to analyze. e discussion must takeplace in a published forum. Written communication is best; if you choose a spoken-word forum, you musthave transcripts of the discussion. See Webcourses for suggestions on choosing a topic.
() Find the contestants. You must have three sources discussing the same issue, and those sources must dis-
agree. e murkier and more subtle that disagreement, the better.
() Analyze the arguments. First, identify the rhetors’ positions: what is at stake for each? How are they
related to the issue? en, identify what values the rhetors assume their audience holds. (You did this forthe Science Accommodation paper, too.) Finally identify the constraints faced by the authors, both limitingand compelling. How do they shape the writing?
Next, look at the arguments being made by each rhetor. What points do they make in support of their
argument? What claims do they maintain? What assumptions do they start from? (is last question iseasier to answer if you aren’t personally involved. You might want to ask a friend or roommate to help youthink through it.)
() Answer the research question. Draw conclusions from what you read, then make a claim. Support that
claim using evidence from the text that you can refer to as you write. Remember: you are proving youranswer to the question of how the authors argue. Do not justify one side/view over the other. In short,don’t take sides; analyze. You are not addressing who is right or wrong; you are identifying how the ﬁght isplayed out.
() Dra your paper. Once again, the structure is up to you. (See Webcourses for a suggestion.) Follow the
same formatting requirements that have applied to all other papers.
() Revise your dra. Using the rubric below, plus the questions on , consider a visit to the for
In the last two assignments, your goal was to analyze texts—that is, to explore how they worked and why the
authors did what they did. You treated the texts in isolation and held them up as separate examples. In this paper,your goal is to synthesize
—that is, to make connections between the things you identify. As your build your case forthis paper, you will analyze multiple sources and navigate your way through the authors’ presentations. From there,you can ﬁnd common threads and reach conclusions that highlight trends within the disagreement you examine.
T . Navigating Sources at Disagree Grading Rubric
& conclusions drawn from tively illustrate and sup-
C Accurate use IDs the rhetorical situations Author draws connections uotes are used consis-
of terms from surrounding sources; may not between sources and makes tently but choppily, or theythis unit.
eat them as a conversation; relevant conclusions about are too infrequent to suﬃ-
or Rhetorical situation not iden- Paper’s conclusion is pri- uotes are isolated and
tiﬁed or presented as a list, not marily summary or restate-
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