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Major Writing Project 2: Entering a Conversation

Instructions:  Choose one of the sets of essays listed below (Kelly and Gladstone together make up a “set”; Carr and Thompson together make up a “set,” etc.).  Your essay should include summaries of both of the authors’ arguments (“they say”); your argument should point out how the authors agree and disagree; and your argument should include your own response to the issues the two essays raise (“I say”).  The “I say” is your own argument concerning the issues.  

  • Make sure you include a naysayer to show possible objections to your own argument, and address the “so what” factor: why does this issue matter?  
  • Make sure you use proper formatting (MLA or APA style, double-spaced, Times or Times New Roman font, 12 point, paragraphs indented).  
  • Make sure you have a proper heading at the top of the first page (name, etc.)
  • Your paper should be about 4 pages.  
  • Plagiarism will not be tolerated.  
  • I recommend you take a look at the Grading Guide (below), which explains how I will grade your papers.
  • MWP 2 is due Friday, January 12, by 11:59pm.  Click the link below to submit your paper.

Recommended structure:  For this paper you have four pages to work with and you need to include, in effect, five major parts:

  1. Introduction: includes basic information about authors, a very brief summary of authors’ ideas (a sentence or two), a brief statement of your argument (or thesis statement), and a brief explanation of why your argument matters
  2. Summary of 2 authors, with quotes as evidence
  3. Summary of how they agree/disagree; provide quotes if necessary
  4. Your own opinion and your reasons for your opinion (which includes at least one naysayer); provide quotes as evidence
  5. Conclusion:  includes a return sentence, a restatement of your argument, and a developed explanation of why your argument matters

Note that those are five parts, not paragraphs (exceptions: the introduction and the conclusion are usually one paragraph each).  What could this look like?  Here’s an example:  After the brief introductory paragraph (where you introduce your topic, basic information about your authors with brief summaries of authors’ ideas, a sense of your argument and perhaps why your argument matters), you might have a summary of one author (1 paragraph), then a summary of the second author (1 paragraph).  Then you might have one paragraph that explains how they agree or disagree (though you can already allude to that in the summary paragraphs through phrases like “Unlike Turkle, Wortham asserts that…”).  Note that the paragraph that explains how the two authors agree or disagree is still “they say,” since you’re not yet putting forward your own opinion on the issues.  At that point you’ll have written about 2 pages.  Then you write your own argument (“I say”) in relation to what they say (about a page and a half).  At that point you’ve written about 3.5 pages.  Then you end with one short concluding paragraph, where you wrap it up with a return sentence and again explain why it matters. 

Keep in mind: this way of structuring this assignment is only a suggestion; it doesn’t have to be exactly like that.  But hopefully this gives you an idea of what this kind of paper could look like.

Sets

Set 1:

Kevin Kelly, “Better than Human: Why Robots Will – and Must – Take Our Jobs” (299)

Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld, “The Influencing Machines” (330)

Set 2:

Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” (313)

Clive Thompson, “Smarter than You Think:  How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better” (340)

Set 3:

Sherry Turkle, “No Need to Call” (373)

Jenna Wortham, “I Had a Nice Time with You Tonight.  On the App.” (393)

Set 4:

Michaela Cullington, “Does Texting Affect Writing?” (361)

Malcolm Gladwell, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted” (399)

Grading Guide: I will use the following grading guide to grade your papers.  Think of it as a “cheat sheet,” but without the “cheating” part.  It’ll help you figure out how to get a good grade on MWP 2.

Introduction (10 points)

Includes basic information about the authors as well as the full titles of essays; includes a brief summary statement about essays; includes a clear thesis statement (summary of “I say” in relation to “They Say”).

“They say” inhabits world-view of each author (20 points)

Each summary does not agree or disagree with author (summary inhabits worldview of author); each summary uses sophisticated signal verbs to summarize author’s points; no listing of author’s points or “closest cliché” (pp. 31, 35, 33)

Quoting: Uses quotes correctly and appropriately (20 points)

Quotes used to present “proof of evidence” (p. 42) in summary of authors’ arguments — Quotes should not be “orphans” (p. 43) — Quotes should be framed appropriately (“quotation sandwich”) (p. 46) — Quotes should be Introduced with appropriate verb (p. 47) – Indicates page number of quote (p. 48)

“I say” clearly agrees, disagrees, or combination of agrees and disagrees (20 points)

Clear “I say” statement in introduction, placed in relation to authors – Clear statements of agreement, disagreement, or both (use at least one template per author on pp. 60, 62, 64-66) – Clearly distinguishes “they say” from “I say” – Clearly signals who is saying what: Uses at least one template from pp. 72-75 – “I say” includes clear reasons for argument that are not simply summaries of authors’ arguments – Clearly plants naysayer to support “I say” argument (use at least one template from pp. 82, 83,84-85, 89).

Clearly states why the argument matters (10 points)

Uses at least one “who cares?” template from pp. 95-96; Uses at least one “so what?” template from pp. 98-99, 101 — statement why argument matters should be included in either introductory paragraph or concluding paragraph (or both)

Conclusion (10 points)

Includes at least one “return sentence” in the conclusion to remind reader of what “they say” (p. 27); includes a restatement of thesis or “I say”

Editing and tone (10 points)

No editing errors (spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting); Uses proper tone (formal where appropriate, informal where appropriate)

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