Essay Assignment

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GWRTC 103: Spring 2011
Dr. Scott Lunsford

Project 3: Writing Your Own Purpose

The remaining weeks of the course are devoted to your final project, a research article that you will write based on your own purposes and interests, constrained by the course theme: writing about writing. 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.


During the first part of this project, we will explore some of the ways we choose topics to write about. You might consider some of the ideas you discovered during the Textlog exercise, something we’ll discuss as well. We’ll also consider some of the themes and issues we’ve looked at throughout the course.

Know, though, that the next few weeks are dependent on the work you do. You have the computer lab to work in during class time, so coming to class is imperative.

To help you begin thinking about what you want to do consider the rhetorical situation: purposes for writing and researching; the audience(s) who might benefit from your paper; and the constraints that will encourage you to approach your research and writing.

The Rhetorical Situation

Purpose. 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, social networking. 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. See page 5 of this packet for ideas.


There are two parts to this project: (1) a proposal, in which you will explore ideas for a (2) final research article.


You must situate your topic and questions within the constraints of the course; that is, you are writing about writing/representation/discourse. To give me a better idea of what you want to do through this project, complete the attached proposal form on page 6 and email or Dropbox it to me by Sunday, April 3, 11:59 p.m. Besides submitting the form, you can also visit with me to discuss your ideas during this process.

Research Article

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

  • discuss your purpose and/or research question.
  • invoke at least five 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 six-page essay, plus a works cited page.
  • use MLA documentation style 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


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