Essay Assignment

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GWRTC 103—Critical Reading and Writing
Lunsford—Fall 2010
Project 3: Writing Your Own Purpose

The remaining weeks of the course are devoted to your final project, one that you can develop based on your own purposes and interests. Throughout the semester, we’ve responded to several assignments, participated in many class discussions, and conducted creative/critical thinking that should have helped you ask important questions about and explore other areas of writing, rhetoric, and discourse.


Think about the project through Lloyd Bitzer’s eyes:

The Rhetorical Situation

Exigence. What purpose do you have? Will writing and rhetoric become important in your major? In your profession? In your civic life? What real need do you have to explore some aspect of writing, rhetoric, and discourse? Just curiosity? Something else?

Audience. I am an audience, of course, but I might not be the only audience you have. Is there someone or some entity who might benefit from the knowledge you gain from your exploration (besides you)? Considering your purpose above, will you write your project for other students, academics, administrators, coworkers, or Uncle Bob, who needs to increase his small-engine repair business?

Constraints. Considering your purpose and audience, then, what will be the best way to get your message across? What do you know about your audience, about their values, their ideologies, their needs? How much time do you have to devote to developing your message? Further, what ideas from the class will help you explore your project?

Whatever you choose to do, you will propose the idea to me to determine how feasible the project will be for you. Time, resources, and skills are major factors in determining what you can do. All in all, consider your own purpose. I will not tell you what to write, on what topic to explore, but I will certainly guide you through the process.


To help you narrow down ideas into topics, consider these questions: What do certain texts do? What do writers do through these texts? What can I do with writing? How does writing identify me? How does it constrain me? How does it liberate me? You’ve discussed several genres of texts: essays, graffiti, tattoos, chalking, billboards, highway signs, magazine ads. Consider others—like in your textlogs—that we haven’t spoken about: maps, food labels, greeting cards, blogs, menus, board games, technical instructions . . . . These can become your objects of study. What questions can you develop about these or any text? We’ll discover some ways of looking at them during our first week of the project.


In your final paper, you’ll—among other things—

  • discuss your purpose and/or research questions.
  • invoke at least three secondary sources from academic databases or print journals. You can invoke other appropriate sources too.
  • contextualize all research. Don’t simply pull quotes.
  • package it effectively into a five-page essay, plus a works cited page.
  • use MLA documentation style (e.g., MLA or APA) for in-text citations and works cited page.

Following are the criteria by which I will assess your paper:

  • an engaging purpose, explicitly stated or implied
  • cohesive organization that enhances content and overall purpose
  • specific and thorough development, support, and analysis
  • critical use of credible sources
  • exceptional writing style that reflects sophisticated rhetorical choices
  • deliberate control of conventions such as grammar and punctuation

Discovering Topics and Issues

Here are some methods to help you determine a topic to write about.

  1. Interests
    • What about rhetoric and writing are you interested in?
    • What kinds of texts would be interesting to look at?
    • Why would this idea be interesting to a particular audience?
  1. Concerns
    • Are there certain issues about writing (e.g., social, political, economic, cultural) that you’re concerned about?
    • Are any of these concerns to a larger audience?
  1. Local
    • Are there writing issues on campus, in your community, in your town that others are concerned about?
  2. Purpose
    • To bring awareness?
    • To change an attitude?
    • To bring about change?

Now, think about the ways you hear about certain issues, ways and genres that can inspire you to write about something:

  1. The news
  • Are there recent stories about issues that concern you?
    • TV
    • Newspaper
    • Online sources
  1. Your experiences
    • Are there aspects of any experiences in your life that could evolve into a topic? NOTE: This is not a paper in which you write only about yourself. You can use yourself as primary research, but you must consult other research mostly.
  2. Other people
    • What are others saying about certain issues?
    • Do you agree or disagree with others on those issues?
  3. Classrooms
    • Are there projects you’re working on in other classes that might transfer to a project in this class? NOTE: I’m not suggesting that you simply submit another class’s paper for this project. You would have to adjust it for the criteria in this class.


GWRTC 103—Final Project Proposal

Name __________________________________________


Research Question(s)

Purpose Statement
I am studying/working on ______________________
            because I want to find out ______________________________________________
                        in order to help my reader understand_________________________________.

Secondary Questions

Search Terms

What research/reading do I need to do?

What issues do I need to deal with or ask about?


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