Assignments–summer 2005 Engl 4700
This page provides more details about the course assignments. Clicking on the links below will take you the appropriate place in the page where you can view individual assignment instructions:
ASSIGNMENT #1- NARRATIVE
Narratives can be the most absorbing and satisfying kind of writing to experience, whether they are read or watched on a screen. Writing them can be just as engaging, which is why this first assignment focuses on writing a narrative.
In her essay “Writing on the Bias,” Linda Brodkey suggests that writing is intrinsically connected to the writer; she argues that a writer’s belonging to culture (in terms of race, class, gender, and so on) manifests itself in how a text unfolds and what it expresses. She calls this “writing on the bias,” acknowledging that a bias “may be provided by a theory or an experience or an image or an ideology” (50). In other words, Brodkey suggests that we all tell stories—that we write on the bias—as a way to make sense of the world.
In this first assignment, I would like you to work with this idea of “writing on the bias” directly. Be conscious of your “bias” regarding the topic you have chosen for your thesis project or your final paper. Think about this topic from your perspective: what can you see from your angle of vision? What is your angle of vision?
When discussing writing on the bias, Brodkey also uses this vivid formulation: “Writing begins for me with something once heard or seen or read that recurs in my mind’s eye as a troubling image—myself as a little girl cautiously descending a staircase—which in turn prompts me to seek a narrative explanation for its persistence” (49). In this assignment, search for “troubling images” that animate your topic; think about stories, events, and people that have prompted you to become interested in your topic. Tell a story in which you account for the topic’s nagging meaning for you.
In your narrative, use some or all of the following elements that characterize narratives:
You may experiment with these components; for example, you may employ flashbacks or flash-forwards. Also, pay attention to point-of-view (first- or third-person perspective), a consistent tense, and effective organization.
In this assignment we will continue exploring your semester topic from a different mode of development—scholarly research. With this assignment you should gain more experience and familiarity with basic research methodology which includes strategies for integrating research information smoothly into your paper, using quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. Further, research methodology also consists of crediting sources through citations and documentation.
Research data is generally used for development and support of a writer’s argument. Working with outside sources also means reflecting on your reading, imagining how each particular source might be used in your paper and how it influences your thinking about your topic. Your decisions about what to borrow from another writer will be shaped by your own context and purpose. In other words, the value of research depends entirely on how you use it as support for your arguments; do not let sources dictate what and how you write, but use them as developmental aids.
This assignment requires crucial skills for academic writing that can only be honed through careful analysis and practice. We will practice and discuss quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing extensively in class. You cannot succeed on this assignment without attending class and participating actively in learning how to integrate research into your paper. To get full credit, please turn in the assignment and the double-entry journal.
With this assignment, you will continue to examine your semester topic but with a different purpose and with a different mode of development. One important element of good writing stressed in this class falls under the rubric “critical and complex thinking.” In order to practice this element of good writing, this third assignment asks you to look at your semester topic from various perspectives. This is an important step in preparing for your thesis (or for a longer research paper) because good writers recognize that an issue can be approached from different perspectives. Even if you take one side of a given issue, you need to acknowledge that different people hold different perspectives on that issue. If you don’t take the time to work through other perspectives, you run the risk of discrediting your argument.
In her essay “Writing on the Bias” Linda Brodkey also argues that it is important to see other people’s viewpoints. She suggests that all writing comes from a standpoint, and that as writers we need to realize that our viewpoint is one among others. As Brodkey puts it, “to write is to find words that explain what can be seen from an angle of vision, the limitations of which determine a wide or narrow bias, but not the lack of one” (50). Thus, in this assignment I ask that you examine other standpoints besides your own. What are other people saying about the issue you are investigating? What perspective do they have? Why do they have that perspective? One way to begin thinking about this assignment is to think about different people (in terms of their race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, and so on) and what they would say about your issue.
An approach that pays attention to different perspectives acknowledges that controversial issues involve many different points of view, not just one or two. Instead of thinking of just one side of an issue, we need to think of as many sides as we possibly can, thus focusing on the complex and muddled perspectives and why different people care about them. In a way, then, an emphasis on different perspectives keeps conversations in flux and advances change and understanding. On my syllabus I quote the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who said, “There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective ‘knowing’; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our ‘concept’ of this thing, our ‘objectivity,’ be.”
I ask that you consider your semester topic from different perspectives by discussing more than two different angles that pertain to your issue. Think about different explanations, reasons, and viewpoints that might apply to your issue. Develop each reason in detail: support it with material from an outside source, or from personal experience. In other words, use some kind of credible "evidence" for each perspective to explain why someone might hold that perspective. This paper should be at least two full pages long.
Our next assignment asks you to prepare an annotated bibliography on your thesis topic. An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (cited in a specific documentation style) that includes books, web pages, articles from journals, newspapers, magazines, interviews, email correspondence, etc., each of which is followed by an annotation or description. Please look at the example “Annotated Bibliography” under “Writing Samples.”
An annotated bibliography offers an arranged list of bibliographic entries, much like a list of works cited. The bibliography is usually organized alphabetically by the first word, which is typically the author’s last name. Each entry is followed by an annotation that ranges in length depending on the purpose and the audience. Annotations are written in a concise, informative manner.
§ the content (focus) of a text
§ the usefulness of the text
§ any limitations the text may have
§ the audience of the text
§ the methods (research) and their evaluation used in the text
§ reliability of the text
§ the author’s background
§ possible conclusions the author is drawing
§ your reaction to the text
§ how and where you will use this source in your thesis
2. Annotated bibliographies serve different purposes that include the following:
§ a review of literature on a particular subject
§ an illustration of the quality of the research the writer has
§ a useful example of the types of sources available
§ a description of other items on a topic that may be of interest
to a reader
§ an exploration of the subject for further research
Write an annotated bibliography containing at least seven sources: one source must be a book, and only one source may be from the Internet. Focus mainly on serious, scholarly sources. List sources alphabetically, and provide an annotation for each source that is at least 120 words in length; include all or parts of the items described above under (1). Make the annotations as useful as possible. Perform a double-entry journal for each source and turn it in with the assignment. Use a documentation style appropriate for the discipline in which you are writing (usually MLA or APA).
To access the complete assignment sheet for the actual proposal, please visit Professor Nancy Rushforth's online reserve course, IS 4890. Read the section "reading" on this class web page for more information on how to access UVSC's online reserve readings.
As you read the essays for this class, I ask that you write a reading response (400-500 words) about the essays. Please type it, proofread and edit it, and generally follow MLA or APA manuscript standards. Feel free to write more if you wish.
Your response should have three components:
Research writing involves a two-fold process: (1) to collect information, and (2) to think about that information and to make connections between your own ideas and the ideas you encounter in other sources. Writing with sources means that you try to make the information your own.
To encourage this process of knowledge-making, rather than simply recording information like an encyclopedia, I encourage you to do the following exercise, called “double-entry journal.” This method seems particularly effective at encouraging dialogue between the researcher and her sources.
(Taken from Dewey Litwiller’s webpage at http://duke.usask.ca/~dul381/common/dej.html)
What's the purpose of a double-entry
How does it work?
What should I write?
How is a DEJ helpful?
Can I see some examples?
Note these additional features about double-entry journals: