UB: Composition

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UB: Composition

Exploring Our Borders Essay (600-700 words)

Summer 2013

You will research an issue pertaining to one border issue (linguistic, communicative, geographic, political, social, etc.) that is hotly contested by at least two oppositional parties and not easily resolved. Using well-reasoned argumentation skills and articulate writing, you will compose an argumentative essay that supports a possible solution. Your proposed solution should attempt to appease or satisfy both parties to a reasonable and realistic degree. Note: this writing assignment is similar to the type of argumentative writing section of the ACT in that it requires you to address a difficult issue by laying out claims, sub-claims, evidence, and commentary to support your argument (a.k.a. solution). In doing this, you should also preempt objections from potential critics by responding to them, building a solid case for your perspective.

As a class, we can brainstorm specific issues you might address in your paper and work through what makes for a strong well-mediated solution, both in writing and in real-life cultural exchanges.
Documenting Sources

You must use at least four sources for your essay. Sources on the Internet or from texts we have not read must be photocopied and turned in with your peer conferencing materials or uploaded along with your final assignment submission.

Document your sources using MLA—unless you wish to use a different style related to your field of study, then please speak with me for approval.
Do not to plagiarize. If you use exact words from a source, be sure to use quotation marks, in-text citations, and a Works Cited page. Also, check to see that you haven't used too many quotations in the paper; paraphrase or summarize the information in your own words frequently to convey to the reader why each piece of evidence matters.
Planning and Drafting

This assignment requires careful planning and organization. To a large extent, the success of your paper will depend on how thoroughly and diligently you carry out the writing process. Below are some suggestions for getting started.

  1. Restrict your topic. Though this is the longest paper of the semester, you'll need to narrow your focus. You simply can't address a large, complex topic in a relatively short amount of text. Remember, less is more.

  2. Collect evidence from class readings and directly from activists, if possible, and formulate a preliminary thesis. As you write your draft or outline, test your thesis and, if necessary, modify it as you go.

As you can see, you need to complete several preliminary steps before you begin writing in earnest. Between composing your rough draft and your final paper, you'll need to keep several additional things in mind.

  1. Consider audience. How much do your readers know about this issue? This disagreement? Will they be interested in it? Do they have strong opinions about it? Do not assume that your readers are familiar with the activist group you’re writing about. Provide plenty of context to give us a sense of the rhetorical situation, histories of the parties, and the rhetorical ecologies their arguments circulate within.

  1. Keep in mind purpose (e.g., to persuade your readers that every side of an issue can and should be heard in order to make an informed decision or create an appropriate well-mediated solution, and perhaps to act on it).

  1. Interweave your sources into your paper to substantiate your thesis. Be careful not to rely too much on one source. Verify the accuracy of your information and quotations. Miscues can undermine the credibility of your thesis.

Evaluation Criteria

Since this is your last out-of-class essay (except for the revision paper), you will want to demonstrate that you can employ the strategies and techniques we've talked about in the course:

  • a focused topic with a thesis that goes beyond the points made in the essays we read

  • relevant, concrete details that support your thesis

  • a logical pattern of organization; transitions form one idea to the next that guide your reader through your material; unified

  • paragraphs, language and tone adapted to your subject, purpose, and audience.

  • a variety of sentence types (not short, choppy sentences)

  • accurate, well-documented use of sources (including paraphrasing and quoting)

  • few or no errors in correctness that distract the reader

UB: Composition

Revising Our Borders Essay

Summer 2013

You've had a chance to explore a communication issue related to the physical, cultural, or linguistic borders created by society. But a difficult issue doesn't end when you put down your pen, right? So it is equally unrealistic to think that the issue can be written about in only one way, from one perspective.

Likewise, revising is often the most difficult part of the writing process. Yet through careful reconsideration and revision important messages come into fuller focus. I challenge you to revise and "re-see" your issue in a new way. More explicitly, revise in terms of:

  1. New Organizational Borders—in class we'll have the opportunity to read about different organizational patterns used in writing worldwide. For this assignment, I want you to break with the traditional, American academic style of organizing writing and try one (or in a few cases, two) new organizational styles. Try to choose one that you're not familiar with and might find challenging in a good way. Or think about the message you're trying to present and choose a new style based on that organizational style's ability to better present your message than the original one you wrote with.

  2. New Issues on Your Border—do you think there were any issues you wanted to cover in the last assignment but couldn't? Any voices left out? Or better yet, did you realize later that another border could be discussed to improve the message of your writing? If so, talk to your instructor about how to revise this into your latest draft.

  3. Grammatical and Stylistic Revisions—this is a second opportunity to catch mistakes and small edits, but more importantly, you should revise more substantively. Look at the feedback you received on the paper. What did Ms. H like? What did she ask you to change in regards to tone, voice, clarity, argument, context, etc.?

Planning, Drafting, and Documenting Sources

The recommendations from the “Exploring Our Borders” Essay apply to this revision essay. Again, you are advised to plan before delving into this rewrite, attempt several drafts, solicit as much feedback as possible from your peers and me, and cite and format your paper according to MLA style.

Evaluation Criteria

  • a focused topic with a thesis that goes beyond the points made in the last essay

  • relevant, concrete details that support your thesis and solution

  • a new but logical pattern of organization with transitions form one idea to the next that guide your reader through your material

  • paragraphs, language, and tone adapted to fit your subject, purpose, and audience.

  • a variety of sentence types (not short, choppy sentences)

  • accurate, well-documented use of sources (including paraphrasing and quoting)

  • few or no errors in correctness that distract the reader

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