This cumulative, half-semester assignment asks you to discover a topical problem, discuss possible causes, and offer potential solutions. This involves composing at least two unique arguments, (1) exploring the problem’s possible causes and advancing one cause as the most likely and (2) exploring potential solutions to the problem and advancing one solution as the best or most likely.
The overall problem should be small in scope. Be in a position of knowledge and relative authority on this issue. Be sure to demonstrate clearly in both (1) and (2) that the problem exists, that the problem is serious, and that you have more than a casual understanding of its possible causes and potential solutions. If this isn’t a possibility, select another problem.
Topical problems to avoid for this sequence include abortion, anorexia, autism, bulimia, capital punishment, drinking age, drug legalization (including medical marijuana), euthanasia, gun control, healthcare, obesity and violent videogames. Such issues are so nebulous and/or overdone that they do not make for challenging writing or interesting reading. As such, all proposed topics must be approved. The problem addressed, though, can be quite serious or quite funny (as will be shown in an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force).
Trends and/or phenomena whose causes are not definitively known could make for good topical problems. A trend is not just a fad that comes and goes but a significant change that happened (or continues to happen) over several weeks, months, years. Such an event can be identified by an increase or decrease. On the other hand, a phenomenon is a notable circumstance or fact about the human condition or the social order. Political trends and phenomena are also options, but you’ll need to be careful in identifying a problem within this area.
In exploring possible causes, offer credible guesses that may not be proven as fact. There only needs to be suggestion and analysis of potential causes; there is no need to provide proof the first time around. Still, all causes must be plausible. Even though the first major piece calls for speculation, causes must have some logical basis.
Again, overly debated topics that have nothing really new to discuss should be avoided; the same goes for any improbable causes. Presentation and evaluation of multiple causes should be paramount and accompanied by discussion of which cause is most likely. Furthermore, potential objections, questions, and/or reservations should be taken into account.
In exploring potential solutions, though, description and identification of the problem is required. There should also be a specific example of the particular problem being addressed. All potential solutions must be plausible, too, and speculation is necessary for this sequential section as well. The selection of one potential solution as the most effective and the consideration of objections, questions, and/or reservations of readers are both absolute musts.
With the dual purpose of this sequence involving possible causes and potential solutions to a problem, it is important to think about both aspects from a variety of perspectives. Furthermore, speculating a cause for and creating a solution to any problem involves using your own thoughts as well as ideas from outside sources. Causes and solutions should be tangible and reachable, and there should be clear evidence and/or support for your reasoning.
However, this sequence not only calls for cause speculation and solution implementation, but also for the consideration/refutation of other causes and solutions. Therefore, consider the consequences of the various causes/solutions and consider how readers might choose among them. Offer one cause/solution—or combination of causes/solutions—that is the most likely.
There are many separate pieces of writing to this sequence, each leading into the next. It is very important to complete each piece on time and in the proper order.
Pop Up Scholarship - Week 6 - 10.10.11 & 10.12.11
This assignment is a two-part writing sequence that asks students to engage in a dialogue with a particular text.
Reverse-Engineered Scholarship - Week 7 - 10.17.11 & 10.19.11
This assignment is a two-part writing sequence that asks students to break down an existing essay into simpler, constituent parts.
Mashup Scholarship - Week 8 - 10.26.11
This assignment is a writing performance in the style of Jonathan Lethem's "The ecstasy of influence."
Pecha Kucha Presentations - Week 9 - 10.31.11 & 11.2.11
This assignment should be 6 minutes, 40 seconds in length and provide an overall approach to not only the topical problem but also potential causes and possible solutions. This presentation should also provide some larger justification (personal, professional, etc.) for addressing this particular issue.
First Draft of Causes – Week 10 - 11.7.11 & 11.9.11
Second Draft of Causes – Week 11 - 11.14.11 & 11.16.11
First Draft of Solutions – Week 12 − 11.21.11 & 11.23.11
Second Draft of Solutions – Week 13 - 11.28.11 & 11.30.11
All major drafts should be at least 1000 words in length and contain a properly formatted works cited page. All submitted pieces should be typed with 12-point font and have standard one-inch margins. Make sure your name, your class/section, and your instructor’s name appear on the first page. Your name and page number should be clearly visible on each page. Be sure to save your drafts as .rtf files and hand in both online and print versions.