English 1410 Outcomes and Overview

Rhetoric and Writing II focuses on academic inquiry and argument, building upon the basic analytical and rhetorical proficiencies learned in ENGL 1310. In ENGL 1410 students write in-depth researched arguments on substantive issues (each 1410 class is focused on a theme like the 60's, immigration, education, food, mass media, and Disney, and students research an aspect of the larger theme). Writers engage in extended inquiry (which encompasses identifying, evaluating, documenting, and integrating print and non-print sources), enabling them to examine their chosen issue in its full complexity. They write an extended researched argument or two, shorter formal researched arguments cast in the stases they deem effective for their chosen rhetorical situations.

Text: The core text for ENGL 1410 is John Ramage, John Bean, and June Johnson's Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings  or Jeanne Fahnestock and Marie Secor's A Rhetoric of Argument. Both texts afford students theoretical and practical access to rhetorical principles, concepts, strategies, and instructional activities necessary for their successful use of classical stasis. Writing faculty also select additional texts based on their chosen topics of study.

Writing Assignments: Students in 1410 follow a three-part assignment sequence designed to carry students through a sustained research project. Each part of the assignment sequence can be assigned as a single essay/project or as more than one assignment, depending on the preferences of the instructor. Page numbers are intended as suggestive, with room for interpretation by faculty members. The total number of pages of formal writing expected of 1410 students is 25-30 pages (300 words per page is considered standard). Rigor and depth are more important attributes of 1410 writing than simple page count.

The assignment sequence follows:

Part One: Rhetorical Analysis (5-6 pages) In this first stage of the research sequence, referred to as the bridge assignment, students use rhetorical principles to analyze how a particular text makes an argument. It is designed to reinforce and/or introduce basic rhetorical concepts (i.e., audience, context, rhetorical situation, ethos, logos, and pathos).

Suggestions for the bridge assignment:  This assignment has a dual purpose: to introduce the topic of the particular course and to promote transfer of rhetorical knowledge from prior course contexts into 1410. The assignment can also be used as a means for students to begin to define the aspect of the larger topic that is of interest to them. It is suggested that the bridge assignment take no more than 3-4 weeks to allow time for the demanding work of the second and third steps of the assignment sequence. Some instructors use a film as the first text; others use a written text. Faculty may assign a rhetorical analysis bridge essay, some form of reflective writing, a preliminary research proposal, or other assignment connected to the larger research project.

Part Two: Texts in conversation (8-10 pages)  This second assignment sets the stage for the research-based argument (see below), helping students understand the issues they will deal with in the larger project. It asks students to put texts in conversation with one other, moving beyond a dualistic or simplistic understanding of what is at stake. Students examine how different writers define and frame the issues and determine where disagreements lie.

In this second stage of the research process, typically called a literary review or stasis map, students map an extended inquiry into an aspect of the course topic they choose to explore. This stage of the research process incorporates several distinct sub-parts of analysis, which can be assigned as separate essays or projects, or as a larger assignment. The first step is typically a definition of the broader issue and an identification of the stakeholders involved. This might also be called an analysis of the conversation/issue. Second is the assessment of sources in some kind of annotated bibliography. Third is the stasis analysis of the sources, determining what stases the sources focus on, where the disagreements lie, and where further research is indicated. Fourth is a proposal in which the student indicates his or her research question. This issue analysis likely includes the claim, audience, and rhetorical strategies to be incorporated in the third assignment of the 1410 sequence.

Suggestions: Regarding the kinds and numbers of sources, 1410 is the general education course required of UCCS students in LAS, SPA, and Nursing in which academic research skills are taught. Therefore, it is essential that all 1410 students learn to identify and use scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and books available through an academic library. It seems clear that mandating a certain number of sources to be used sidesteps the real issue: to ensure that students have significant experiences with in-depth analysis of scholarly sources. It is suggested, but not mandated, that students examine 5-10 sources, most of which are scholarly, in this assignment, evaluating the sources according to a number of criteria agreed to be elements of credibility. One possible template for the critical evaluation of sources is the ROR (record of research) approach, which tracks the following elements of a source: inquiry topic, database / medium, search terms and strategies, MLA citation, objective summary, credibility, stasis questions, connections, additional questions, and additional search terms.

Part Three: Research-based argument (typically one 10-15 page paper or two 7-8 page papers, excluding Works Cited This assignment asks students to produce a well-supported, focused argument drawing on traditional library sources, primary sources, and quality online sources. The final researched argument is cast as an argument in the stasis/stases of the student's choosing: definition, cause, quality, and/or proposal, determined through the extensive issue and source analysis completed in the second stage of the assignment sequence. The completed essay should demonstrate a clear understanding of the issue it addresses, incorporate opposing views and multiple perspectives, integrate material from sources accurately and elegantly, and express persuasive rhetorical choices based on the writer's chosen purpose, context, and aim.

Additional writing: Apart from the three major writing assignments, students may be asked to do a significant amount of informal writing, including blogs, journals, online discussions, outlines, parts of drafts, and so on. Students may be asked to do an oral presentation at the end of the research sequence.

Total writing required: Overall the total amount of polished final-draft writing each student should expect to complete ENGL 1410 is between 25-30 pages (about 300 words per page). Some students may go beyond this total.