Posted: June 19th, 2015

Grant-Davie and Haas and Flower have demonstrated that understanding the rhetorical situation is central to actively engaging and creating texts

 Date Unit 2: Sources that Disagree [This assignment is adapted largely from the Navigating Sources that Disagree assignment in our textbook (WAW 165-167). Much of the language is copied directly from the textbook, but I have omitted quotation marks to avoid clunkiness.] In this unit, we are exploring the notion that writers and readers play an active role in constructing texts and making meaning. Grant-Davie and Haas and Flower have demonstrated that understanding the rhetorical situation is central to actively engaging and creating texts. To explore this idea further, you will examine texts that appear to disagree and analyze their rhetorical situations and argument strategies in order to understand how and why their authors disagree. Goals The two main goals of this paper are to practice rhetorical reading and work with sources that you have found rather than sources that were given to you. We will also work on argument and thesis statements, using and citing sources, and organization and coherence. Topic Find an issue that is currently being debated publicly, either in your local campus community or in a larger state, national, or international arena. Make sure that this is a complex issue rather than a simple black-and-white problem. The more nuanced and more difficult the debate is, the more useful your analysis will be—to you as well as others. If you need ideas, you may look at the “Room for Debate” section of the New York Times website ( and the CQ Researcher database through the university library website ( for debates. Sources After you have selected your topic, carefully choose three different sources within your debate that do not agree. Look for texts that demonstrate nuanced kinds of disagreement rather than just settling for obvious “pro” and “con” sources. (Remember that the point of the assignment is (Your last name) 1 to help you learn something about how texts are constructed and how meaning is made. If you choose obvious texts to analyze, you won’t learn nearly as much as you could have—and your paper will be much harder to write.) Once you have chosen your three sources, analyze them. • A good way to begin would be by sketching out the rhetorical situations for each text, as well as the larger context of the debate in which they exist. You might also ask who the authors (or rhetors) are and what their values, motivations, and constraints might be. • Next, analyze the arguments that the authors are making. What are their points? Do they disagree on everything? What kinds of evidence do they use? Do they seem to believe that the same things even count as evidence? • Take notes as you analyze your texts and find ways to organize your notes. You might consider making a chart of questions with space for answers about each text, or using the following worksheets: analysis heuristic.htm Content Now that you have conducted the research and analyzed the texts, take a step back and ask yourself what you found. Go back to your original question and try to answer it: how and why do the authors of these texts disagree? You might have one clear answer to this question, and you might have several potential ideas regarding why they can’t agree. Draw from your notes on your sources to support your claims and write an essay in which you provide an answer to the question. Be sure to do the following in your essay: • Provide background information on the debate and the three texts you chose to analyze. • Make your claim(s) in response to the question, and provide the textual evidence from your analysis to support your claims. • End your essay with some sort of “so what?” Tell your readers, who are most likely your teacher and classmates, why it would be useful to have this analysis and why it is important to understand how texts are constructed and how meaning is made. Genre Unlike the Unit 1 paper, this is a formal, academic paper. Keep in mind the “rules” for formal papers. Be mindful of your tone, organization, word choice, and citation. Sample Papers The textbook sample paper is by a student named Zachary Talbot (WAW 156-164). I also have several sample papers from UMSL students. If you would like to see more samples, you may (Your last name) 2 request them by email. These papers are not meant to be seen as perfect, A+ papers. Like any piece of writing, they have strengths and weaknesses. Read the sample papers not as models to blindly follow but examples of what other students have done in the past. Read them critically and analytically. For the sample in the textbook, pay attention to the marginal comments. Process For this unit, we will follow a linear writing process model. After you have completed the first draft, you will meet with me for individual conferences to discuss options for development and revision. You will then produce a second draft, which you will workshop with an assigned workshop partner from our class. (See separate workshop instructions and worksheet.) Based on the feedback you get, you will produce a polished final draft and write a unit reflection. (See separate instructions for unit reflection.) Grading You will be graded on two main areas: your essay and your reflection. See rubric for detailed grading criteria. Extra Credit Opportunity You may “visit” the Writing Center to get extra credit (online or offline). To receive extra credit, you must visit the Writing Center and revise your draft based on the tutoring session. 

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