Writing With Substance: You Can Haz it! SRSLY!

Appendix 2: Assignments 9, 10, and 9 3/4

Assignments 1-8 in this course all lead up to the final three assignments: 9, 10, and 9 3/4 (Yes, that's a Harry Potter joke, but I think it's an apt designation for a paper that's like Assignment 10, but not quite the same). 
I'll start with the final and most important paper, Assignment 10, a 5-6 page discussion of a topic that you treat with substance and in a manner that will be relevant to a university audience. The assignment prompt will emphasize the need to fulfill two major components First, your paper must have a portion devoted to the history of your topic, considering some current aspects of it in relation to the past.  Second, your paper must have a "Hofstra angle" of some sort. That is, you must address your audience's interest in how the topic concerns the various communities at your university. You'll find that there are several ways you might do so. You could, for instance, make use of the scholarly expertise of professors on campus. Read and use their scholarship in your own work. Or, you could approach people on campus--students, staff, administrators, and faculty--as sources for interviews, polls, and other forms of feedback that can be incorporated into your paper as evidence for your claims. How you address your audience will be contingent on your specific topic, of course, and so we will work on addressing these parts of the assignment on an individual-by-indivdiual basis.

We will use Assignment 7 to lay out possible topics and discuss ways of developing them that will meet the assignment requirements and expectations; as part of Assignment 7, you will post the topics to a Discussion forum and I and your classmates will comment upon them. Once I approve a topic/course of study for you, you can embark on the research for the paper and drafting (something you'll begin in Assignment 8) that will form the basis for both Assignments 9 and 10. 
Assignment 9 is designed to help you gather your research for Assignment 10 and present it in a formal manner. For this assignment, you will write a 4-5 page overview of scholarship on your topic and some aspect of its history--that is, you will write something akin to Ta-nehisi Coates' narrative bibliography. In academic fields, we call this type of essay a "Literature Review." You will survey some of the scholarship you have read and discuss not only what your research has taught you, but also what questions remain that you want to pursue in your paper on the topic itself: Assignment 10. Assignment 9, then, is not exactly a paper on your topic itself; rather, it is a paper on the past and current scholarship. Again, think of it as a narrative bibliography that chronicles your engagement with experts' work and provides readers a sense of what those experts have discussed in relation to your topic.  You will use this paper to practice basic writing skills and the communication of complex ideas. The feedback I give you on this paper will help you improve your prose as you draft Assignment 10.
The idea behind both assignments is that you will write with substance if you are given the opportunity to think substantively about a topic and learn about it from multiple perspectives and at length. So rather than write four papers on four different topics, you are writing about a topic about which you've spent significant time reading, adding nuance to your understanding rather than switching to something entirely new.
In order to give you additional opportunities to practice writing a substantive academic discussion, you will also work on Assignment 9 3/4, essentially Assignment 10 except for two distinctions. First, 9 3/4 is an essay you will write collaboratively with half of the class. It will, therefore, be a longer paper than what you will write on your own (though there is not a require length, past semesters' groups have written essays of more than 12 pages together). Second, 9 3/4 will differ from Assignment 10 in that you will have only a limited choice in the topics you write about. One half of the class will write on the phenomenon of "adjunctification" and the other will write about the treatment of student data in the university setting. In your groups, you can refine your approaches to these topics and pursue the specific questions within these broad categories that interest you most. That is, you might focus on   
Through the process of writing on these topics together, you'll practice the skills and methods appropriate to college-level writing, and learn from one another as you go. 

As you begin to contemplate topics for these assignments, focus on small- and large-scale skills that will be necessary for strong papers: the use of quotations and the writing process, including the methods that allow for the development of a substantive writing project.  

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