Rhetorical Situation for Research Papers • Every piece of writing has a “rhetorical situation.” This is the set of circumstances under which the piece of writing is produced, and it affects the choices a writer makes. What is the “rhetorical situation” of piece of writing that is classified as “research”? • What is its purpose? • What is its audience? • What is its tone/stance? • What is its medium (print, web, film, recording, etc)?
The Purpose of Our Research Paper • Make a CLAIM about some area of pop culture and defend that claim using reputable sources and your own analysis of the issue. • How do I discover and defend a claim? • ASK a research question that invites further discussion. • READ a variety of sources about your question. • DECIDE, based on your research, where you stand on your question, and put that stance into a thesis/claim. • DEFEND your decision (your thesis) in your paper.
Audience for our Research Paper • Assume a general audience of other college-level students and professors. Your audience is interested in your topic, and they know what pop culture is, but may not be familiar with your specific issue. You will need to provide appropriate context.
Tone and Medium of Research Paper • Tone: I will expect the paper to have a clear point of view on the question you choose, but I will expect the paper to be professional and respectful of those who might disagree. (If you wouldn’t say it to the face of someone you respect but disagree with, it doesn’t belong in your research paper.) • Medium: Written paper, with the option of added images at the end. Also, if you choose to do the extra credit, you may use video and internet sources in your presentation.
Expectations for Style: • This paper should be written in an academic style. • Some extra points to remember: • No text-speak (“u” for “you,” for example) • Precise, academically appropriate language • Limit use of “I” and “me” to well-chosen, relevant examples.
Brainstorming for the Research Paper Question • Make a list of ALL of the areas of pop culture you might like to write about. Come up with some rough questions about each of these topics. (You can refine them later.) • Be curious! What are connections you’ve always wondered about? What are things you’ve noticed that you’d like to explore in more detail? • What are readings from our book that intrigued you? What more do you want to know about those topics?
Formulating a Research Question • A successful research question will: • Narrow an issue related to pop culture down to a manageable question for a 6-8 page paper. • Be specific. • Invite discussion about the answer to the question. • Some poor research questions: • How does science fiction affect society? (Too broad… affect it HOW? And who is “society” referring to?) • What are some good science fiction movies? (“Good” is too subjective. What do you mean by “good”? And what is your purpose in ranking these movies?)
Research Question, cont. • Improved Research questions: • Has science fiction historically been able to comment on issues of racism and prejudice in a unique way? What has science fiction contributed to the conversation about these topics? • What are some of the most significant real world scientific discoveries that have been inspired by science fiction films? • Remember, your research proposal needs to have your research question at the top, followed by a discussion of what is at stake, who might be affected, and what you need to find out before deciding where you stand.
Ok, I have a research question. Now what? • Have your research question(s) checked by me. Continue refining them. • What knowledge/experience do you bring to the topic? • What are issues you know you will need to explore in order to find out what your claim is going to be?
Rough Research Question • Turn at least one of the topics you brainstormed into a rough research question. • Now, ask yourself, to whom does this issue matter? Who do you think is most likely to have a strong opinion on this issue? Why is it important for this issue to be explored? • Where should I go next to find out what other people with credible knowledge and experience are saying about this topic? • The answers to those questions are what make up the paragraph for your research proposal.
What should I be doing this week for the research paper? • Research Proposal • Start finding possible sources. Keep track of where you find them. • Read at least five possible sources. If they are relevant, annotate/highlight/take notes. Keep track of which ideas came from which source. • Begin to notice common debates or themes in your sources. What are the big issues that show up over and over again as you research?
Suggestions for Beginning Research • Make a list of terms and phrases that might get you good search results for your question. • For example, for my science fiction and racism question, I might make the following list: • Science fiction and racism • Sci-fi and racism • Science fiction prejudice • Science fiction and race • Science fiction civil rights • Science fiction social justice • Etc. • Try different combinations of words that might get you results. If you don’t find what you want immediately, change your search terms and try again. • Once you do find a source or two, see if there are any common phrases you might add to your list.
What is an annotated bibliography? • An annotated bibliography is similar to a works cited page, but each source is followed by a paragraph that summarizes the source's claim in three or four sentences, argues for the source's authority and relevance to your question, and explains why you have chosen to use it in your research paper. What perspective does this source offer? Why is a quote, paraphrase, or summary from this source a valuable addition to your own writing about the topic?
Format of Annotated Bibliography • See handoutfor general information about annotated bibliographies and an example annotated bibliography with three sources. • Your annotated bibliography will need… • Seven sources • Each source put into MLA works cited format (as in example) • Sources alphabetized • A paragraph following each source discussing requirements on previous slide. • Please skip a line between MLA works cited entries and paragraphs. (See example.)
A question to get us started… • Tell me about what is logically wrong with this statement. Why isn’t it convincing? What other problems does it have? • “Every year in California, many students fail to pass the exit exam. I believe that laziness is the reason for so many failures. I have known several students who were unable to pass, even after two or three tries, and all of them spent more time doing other things than studying. I don’t think schools should waste money helping lazy students like the ones I know pass the test when they take it a second time. Besides, if they’d paid attention in the first place in school they wouldn’t have a problem passing the test. I paid attention, and the test was easy for me.”
What is a fallacy? • The previous slide contained an example of a logical fallacy. • Definition of fallacy: a misleading or unsound argument. Any of various types of erroneous reasoning that render arguments logically unsound. (“erroneous” means “containing an error”) • See the handoutfor some common logical fallacies
Why are logical fallacies tricky? • Logical fallacies are tricky because they sound good on the surface. At first glance, why might the statement from our class example be a little bit convincing? Look at the example fallacies provided on the handout. Which ones look good on the surface?
Logical Fallacies in the Media • Where do we see logical fallacies? In the media? In advertisements? • Logical fallacies are not always as easy to spot as the ones that I have provided for you. Be a savvy reader. Be aware of author biases and of these patterns we have discussed. If you see these fallacies in something you read, question them.
How can you fix a logical fallacy? • If you catch yourself or a peer in a logical fallacy, how do you fix it? • Moderate your language. One of the fundamental rules of persuasive writing is “Don’t make claims you can’t prove.” Also, if you make a sweeping generalization and the audience can think of even ONE example that disproves your generalization, you’ve lost credibility with your reader. • Give more specifics – this especially helps with proof by too few examples, allness, and oversimplification
Fixing logical fallacies • Allow for complexity – this definitely helps with oversimplification and either/or reasoning • Avoid common, over the top phrasing – say things in a new way • Build credibility – your own, and that of your sources. Show yourself to be knowledgeable and reasonable, and your sources to be trustworthy. • Look at the big picture – think of various people/issues who might be affected by your idea and consider them before making blanket statements.
What are the assumptions that “Grand Mall Seizure” is making? • Many sociologists and writers of cultural criticism have written about malls as symbols of excess and of mindless consumerism. • The assumption that this essay (and other cultural criticism about malls) makes is that the way that we shop and the way that malls are structured and presented to us as destinations has a profound effect on our culture and the way we think about ourselves.
Grand Mall Seizure p. 292 • What is the author’s attitude toward the Mall of America? Where do you see evidence of this attitude? • What contrast is the author pointing out with his description of the hammer in paragraph 15? • What do you think of the idea of the mall as a fantasy, a place that separates us from reality?
Grand Mall Seizure Cont. • What do you think of the idea of the mall as a symbol of American stability and possibility (see paragraphs 39 and 40)? • What do you think of the concept of malls as placed that might have “served not only a community’s physical needs, but its civic, cultural, and social needs as well” (paragraph 8)? The author seems to think that malls have failed to do this. Is he right, in your opinion? Why?
Preparing to Talk About “Identity in a Virtual World” p. 176 • Have you ever participated in a game that required you to make an avatar? (A character to represent you in the game.) If so, what did it look like? How and why did you make choices about what your character looked like and how he/she/it acted? How much of a reflection of you was that avatar? • If you have never made an avatar before, what would you do if you were asked to? Why? How much of you would be reflected in the character you made to represent you?
“Identity in a Virtual World” p. 176 • An “avatar” is a virtual character created by a real person to represent them in a virtual environment. This essay discusses the various ways in which the avatars that people choose reflect and shape their identity, and the ways that online environments free us from social norms (a social norm is a behavior that is expected of you in order to appear “normal” or “polite”) at the same time that those social norms are carried over into the virtual world.
“Identity in a Virtual World” p. 176 • This essay reports on the findings of several authors and researchers who have been researching the topic of real people and their avatars. They found… • People like the anonymity of having a character who is unlike them, but were willing to pose for the book. Why do you think this is? • People often chose characters who were “less ordinary” than their real selves. Why do you think this is? • The researchers found that men choose female avatars more often than women choose male avatars. (Which made me laugh, because this is the opposite of my experience….) Why do you think this is?
Thinking further… • Other than online avatars in virtual games, what are some other ways that people can create an identity for themselves on the internet? • What are the benefits and drawbacks of a virtual identity that is somewhat different from one’s “real” identity that one presents in face to face interactions?
Applications for Essay #2 • Both of these essays touch on ideas about how pop culture (in one case, a mall, in another, online games) affects the way people think about their own identities, as Americans or as “improved versions” of themselves. Notice how both of these authors paint a clear picture of the situation and thoroughly explore why the observations that have made matter. These essays can serve, if not as sources, than as models for your own writing.