The topic of your final paper--the culmination of what you've learned over the course of the semester and worth 30% of your final grade--will discuss an object
(like Bogost’s essay on the telephone) a “text”
(conceived broadly, like Cecire’s analysis of the Beyoncé album and its video iconography), a problem
emerging from change (like the collection and use of our data by media companies), or a recent development either in higher education
itself (such as the “adjunctification” of university faculty) or a development in a context that a specific academic field is poised to help address
(such as the example we’ll see with microbeads, wherein experts in chemistry, ecology, and sustainability studies can identify a problem and possible alternatives). The examples listed in parentheses are all linked to written work we’ve read or will read about this semester; you will need to come up with your own topic that fits within the categories underlined.
Under this broad framework, you may choose a topic that you find interesting—but you must be able to make the case that this topic is somehow of interest to your audience, the Hofstra community at large
, and relevant at this specific moment in time
. It must, therefore, meet a condition rhetoricians call kairos
. Your audience includes members of WSC 1 as well as other students, professors, and staff members, so you will need to have sound reasons and evidence that this audience will care about your topic as much as you do for me to approve it--and you must be willing to craft a written discussion of the topic that will make the case for its local implications. That is, you must address your topic as something that matters specifically to our community here.
Regardless of what you choose, you must approach your topic from an academic perspective, using a lens that scholars from some academic field have deployed in their work and writing about it in as complex terms as possible. Rather than aim to make something seem simple, you’ll want to grapple with something hard. Otherwise, you can’t learn anything from the process of writing about it. Along these lines, you must consider your topic’s history, conducting research that helps your audience understand how the topic now
is related to conditions of factors in its past.
Put another way, you must ensure your topic has a Hofstra component and a History component. Addressing both of these components in your research and writing will help you discuss your topic with substance. Requirements and Tips
Your paper should be about 6-7 pages long
with 1” margins and typed in an academically appropriate font (12pt Times New Roman is a safe choice) in its final form. It should be double-spaced and carefully proofread; it should also adhere to the MLA format shown in the sample MLA paper and Works Cited available through the links (Purdue OWL and UTexas Writing Center) on our textbook and Blackboard.
Your paper should engage with the history of your topic in some fashion and make at least one arguable claim about the present and future of your topic. (The kinds of claims you will make will vary based on your topic and your interests, but I will help you develop an argument or arguments!)
Your paper must substantively draw on multiple (more than two) credible sources; at least three of your sources should be peer-reviewed scholarly essays from academic journals.
Your paper must have a works cited page that documents your sources and is formatted according to MLA style; a missing works cited page will result in an automatic 5 point reduction in your draft grade and a full-letter grade drop in your final paper grade if you persist in leaving it out!
I strongly suggest that you do not use a 5-paragraph structure; your essay will be far too long to be well served by that strategy. Use as many paragraphs as you and your readers need for the arguments you intend to make.
Explain why your topic is important and relevant for your audience, with sound reasoning and persuasive evidence.
Maintain your own credibility as an author in your essay’s tone, diction, style, and content. Remember that part of your job is to develop your own ethos
as a writer and thinker––that is, you also need to convince me and your classmates that you have a good understanding of the topic and that you have thought critically about it.
Avoid any potential diversions of reasoning (argumentative fallacies). Grading Criteria
I will evaluate your essay according to how effectively it:
- demonstrates thoughtful consideration of this prompt and listed Options;
- establishes the significance of your topic for your assigned audience (the HOFSTRA component);
- shows your ability to research a subject thoroughly (the HISTORY component);
- embodies the ideals of academic argumentation that we have discussed in class;
- demonstrates an understanding of how to integrate quotations grammatically and strategically, with the use of attributive tags and analytical commentary;
- supports all claims with sound reasoning and strong evidence
- structures claims and evidence in an effective manner, demonstrating attention to matters of organization;
- and adheres to MLA formatting guidelines.
I will also evaluate your essay based on the quality of your prose; I will be looking for prose that is clear, precise, and sophisticated; please try to produce a final draft that is largely free of grammatical or mechanical errors. Here is the rubric for the assignment.