In order to make sure that your exploration considers differing points of view, we are going to ground your exploration in this unit by focusing on a social movement or an influential organization and an issue that is central to their cause. For example, you could look into conversations related to social movements like #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, March for Our Lives, or #MMIW. You could look at conversations in the news that involve influential organizations, like Planned Parenthood, the Red Cross, the ACLU, and RAICES. The project will ask you to read several sources about a topic that that group cares very much about, think about how different writers take different approaches to the topic, and then look at how the major organization or social movement you chose is responding to that same topic.
The project will ask you to do four things:
- Summarize the specifics of the conversations that you are following, including the main topics/ideas being discussed, the modes being used throughout the conversation, and the context in which the conversation is taking place.
- Discuss the ethos/credibility and varying levels of expertise of groups/people taking part in the conversation,
- Analyze the ways in which your chosen social movement or organization uses writing and rhetoric to facilitate change
- Reflect on what you learned, including how this activity informs your understanding of research in a digital society.
Importantly, this assignment is not a paper: you will complete this project as a series of 4 posts, culminating in a final project reflection. All 5 of these assignments will be collected into one project grade.
Note: while each of these assignments might seem “small” on their own, and will appear separately in the modules, together they make up a paper/project grade and will significantly impact your grade. Therefore it is important that for each post you work to find the best sources you can find, and that you answer the questions on each assignment thoroughly. Also, please edit and revise your posts to the best of your ability, as the quality of your writing will also be graded.
Each post will ask you to look for a different kind of text, each one centered around a social movement, and then the post instructions will give you specific questions to answer. All of the posts ask you to make specific references to the text you are analyzing. Please do not talk in broad terms about the topic, but pay close attention to the specific text you’ve chosen to analyze for each post and HOW that text engages in the conversation you have chosen.
For example, a student who chooses to follow the conversation related to March For Our Lives might engage with the following types of texts…
Post #1: Opinion/Persuasive Source
Post #2: Informational text
Post #3: Interactive text
Post #4: Communication of movement/group
NYT opinion piece: “Moved and Inspired by the ‘March for our Lives’” (Links to an external site.)Times article: “The March for our Lives Protest is this Saturday. Here’s Everything to Know.” (Links to an external site.)March For Our Lives Facebook page (Links to an external site.)March for Our Lives YouTube page (Links to an external site.)
THINGS TO DO FOR THIS PROJECT:
Note: each of the following assignments (#1-5) will appear as separate assignments in the module. For each post, I will give you more information, including a rubric. However, here is a summary of the posts, in case you want to look ahead.
- Post #1: Find an opinion or persuasive source that is relevant to/about your movement or organization. A good place to start could be the Op-Ed section of a newspaper. For example, if you go to the NYTimes or the Washington Post website, you can search the opinion section for a particular topic–but you do not have to use an Op-Ed. Once you’ve identified an article to work with, read the article/text and write a rhetorical summary. A rhetorical summary is a summary of the rhetorical situation of a text and the author’s rhetorical choices. Your rhetorical summary should be at least 250 words. See Guiding Questions for Researching Rhetorically for ideas that you might discuss in this post.
- Post #2: Choose an informational text that is relevant to/about your movement or organization and in conversation with your first text. Examples of informational sources include a news article, an informational webpage, or an informational book. (Importantly, try to pick a source that isn’t just very broadly about the same general topic as the one you used for the last discussion, but one that provides information about the same question or concern that your previous source debated.) As you did for Post #1, write a rhetorical summary for this source. As previously explained, a rhetorical summary is a summary of the rhetorical situation of a text and the author’s rhetorical choices. Your rhetorical summary should be at least 250 words. See Guiding Questions for Researching Rhetorically for ideas that you might discuss in this post. Note: Since you now have worked with 2 different sources, you can respond to the final guiding question as well as the others.
- Post #3: Next, find a text in conversation with your first two that that allows for reader/viewer interaction via feedback, online comments, etc. You can be creative here. For example, you could look at a blog, a series of tweets, Facebook/Instagram posts, a podcast, online videos (YouTube), interviews, artwork, ads, etc. as long as the text provides space for interaction (or comments) from readers/viewers. This text (or series of texts) should be in conversation with the first two texts. As you did for Posts #1 and #2, write a rhetorical summary of this text. As previously explained, a rhetorical summary is a summary of the rhetorical situation of a text and the author’s rhetorical choices. Your rhetorical summary should be at least 250 words. See Guiding Questions for Researching Rhetorically for ideas that you might discuss in this post. Note: Since you now have worked with 3 different sources, you can respond to the final guiding question as well as the others.
- Post #4: Investigate how the movement or group communicates its own message. For example, depending on whether you chose a social movement or influential organization, you could look at their protest methods (traffic blocks, die ins, etc), their social media pages, flyers, websites, videos, speeches, etc. Find a “text” (loosely conceived) that enters the same conversation as the previous 3 texts. As you did for the previous posts, write a rhetorical summary of this text. As already explained, a rhetorical summary is a summary of the rhetorical situation of a text and the author’s rhetorical choices. Your rhetorical summary should be at least 250 words. See Guiding Questions for Researching Rhetorically for ideas that you might discuss in this post. Note: Since you now have worked with 4 different sources, you can respond to the final guiding question as well as the others.
- Researching Rhetorically project reflection: In at least 500 words, look back at your four posts and reflect on your findings. In addition to reflecting on your findings, your reflection should discuss the ways in which this activity informed your understanding of research in the 21st century. The following questions are designed to help you think about what you can discuss in this reflection:
- What were you curious about when you looked at this organization/movement and the texts they create and the texts about them? What interests you? What did you want to investigate? In your opinion, why should people care about this issue?
- Look at the conversation as a whole. What background information do readers need in order to follow the conversation you are writing about? What are the various viewpoints in this conversation? On what points do your sources generally agree or disagree?
- What do you now understand about the larger conversation surrounding this topic as a result of listening to various voices and perspectives?
- Reflect on your experience conducting research in this way. What did you learn about the way research takes place in a 21st century context? How does this expand upon, change, and/or complicate your previous notions of research? What questions do you have about future research you may have to do, in college or after?
- Based on this activity, what do you think it means to be an active and informed listener when it comes to understanding a topic and forming your opinion on that topic?