Research Invoice

					Re-Source/Research                                         Invoice
                                                           Invoice No: 000009
Pick Up:                                                   Drop off Dates: see below

Phone n/a
□ Topic Workshop (held : )
□ Topic Proposal ( due: )
□ In-Class Workshop with option for valuable peer feedback (held:             )
□ Final Product plus Statement of Goals and Choices (due: )
□ *Genre Open
□ **Collaboration Option
Choose a person, place or thing that interests you—someone, some place, or something you
already know a bit about or that you are curious to learn more about. In keeping with the
historical/educational aspects of the course, you might focus on an historical event or figure or
even an aspect of education, paying close attention to the way that individual, object, event,
stereotype, or belief system has been treated in a wide range of genres and media, including, but
not limited to: film, scientific reports, interviews, children’s texts, novels, bathroom graffiti,
games/toys or other 3-D objects, poems, photographs, paintings, news reports, “scholarly” texts,
classroom textbooks, internet sources, television, radio programs, etc. Note: Recent events or
figures might be hard to research—you might not be able to find the array of sources
required for this project.

Unlike the traditional research paper (where you might have been required to present readers with
information about a topic or to state and support your position on a topic), this task requires that
you rigorously reflect on, in an attempt to make sense of, the “work” each of your sources does.
In other words, instead of presenting readers with competing sides of a debate in order to
persuade readers of the merit of one side over another, you will be focusing on the way your
sources treat their subject. The assignment is not asking you to reveal and support what you
think about a person, place, or thing so much as it is asking you to reveal or support how
your sources use language, color, images, etc. as a means of persuading, informing and/or
entertaining. As a result, you will be paying close attention to the rhetorical moves made by
your sources—moves that will help, hinder, or alter the work you believe the source
attempts to do. Some questions to consider as you begin making sense of the “work” your
sources do: What is knowable about the producers and/or production of the source? How might
this knowledge impact the consumer’s reception of the source? What position(s) do the
producers take on the subject? What types of evidence does the producer use to support his/her
argument? Is the evidence compelling or weak? Who is the intended audience? How does the
medium, genre and/or context impact the way information is both presented and received? Does
a source appear to be concerned with persuading, informing and/or entertaining the consumer?
Does a source appeal to the intellect and/or emotions? What cultural values are encoded in the
information presented? What clues does the source’s language, color, date of publication, use of
design, etc. provide us with? What does the source ask the consumer to do, to believe, to feel?
What does it assume the consumer already knows, believes, does, etc.? You will, of course, have
your own opinions about the effectiveness and/or reliability of the sources you collect and you
might consider these as you begin analyzing your sources. While I am not necessarily asking you
to argue for the effectiveness of one source over another, you might use your reaction to a source
as a starting point for rigorous reflection. For instance, if you find a source’s treatment of your
subject especially compelling, what exactly is going on rhetorically or visually that makes the
source seem to have a greater authority or impact when compared with another? Does the
inclusion of photographs, tables or stats, etc. make the source seem more authoritative? Why or
why not?

AN INTERLUDE: Say, for instance, we are looking at the Vietnam War and have already
collected the following sources: a rock song, a poem, a movie, a photograph, a painting, a high
school history text, an excerpt from a war diary, stats on war costs, a newspaper clipping and a
government report. Before we begin analyzing the specific rhetorical moves made by each
source, we might ask ourselves what expectations and understandings of genre we bring to the
sources we have collected. For instance, would we assume that the song, poem, photograph and
painting (products often deemed creative, artistic and/or expressive) will be less (or more) reliable
sources of information than, say, the textbook, stats, or government report? How do the
assumptions we make about genres and media influence us as we go about collecting sources?
Do we tend to value sources that appear to be more objective or subjective? But back to the war:
What do we expect of the war diary? Do we privilege it because it claims to have been written by
someone who was actually there or are we skeptical of what it contains because of the “personal”
nature of the diary-genre?

Key Point: Let your sources guide you to any claims you end up making in your final
products! The best way, I think, to go about this project is to collect a wide number and
range of sources and then sit down with those sources and subject them to a rigorous series
of questions such as those I have provided you with above. Take notes on similarities and
differences—not only with regard to the “what” (i.e., what information is presented?) but
also to the “how” and “why.” “How” is the information presented and “Why” might it be
presented this way? What choices have been made and to what end?

Again, I’d ask you to think about which form(s) best serve your ends. What work do you see the
piece doing and how might a specific method of representation help or hinder that work? If you
are looking at the authority or even elitism often associated with academic spaces/processes, you
might choose to present your findings in a genre typically associated with academia. Or,
conversely, you might choose a form that is deliberately “un-academic.” Say you had been
looking at the way television affects viewers, you might want to arrange your findings according
to the genre of the TV guide. Or, say your sources all seem to perpetuate the idea that TV is
responsible for the "dumbing down" of America—in this case you might choose to present your
findings in the form of “An Idiot’s Guide to. . .” If you found your process and/or findings to be
confusing or puzzling, you might want to present your findings in the form of a crossword puzzle
or word search. If you selected a topic associated with the sciences, you might think about
writing up your findings as a lab report, or, again, if you are a fan of the ironic, as a Harlequin
Romance. Bottom line, I invite each of you to do what makes sense or, more specifically, that
which helps you construct a powerful and insightful final product.

Think you might work better with a partner or two? If so, I invite you to make this a collaborative
endeavor. Warning: While many people enter into collaborative projects assuming that it is a
way to save time by splitting up the work, it normally does not work this way. Chances are,
because each of you will have vastly different takes on the way sources treat your topic, you will
spend a lot of time delving into the ways each of your reads/responds to a given source. If this
option interests you, see me for more details.

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