Oakes 80A | Fall 2016 | live document (see Drive for hyperlinks)

T 10/11
v1.0  1 copy
Th 10/13
v2.0  1 copy of all drafts +  process log
• v1.0 – 800-1000 words (place word count at top)
• v2.0 – 1000-1200 words
• Double spaced, 12pt, Times New Roman font
• 1 inch margins. Double-sided ok (See Lunsford, section 42)
• MLA in-text citations and works cited

What is a scholarly conversation?
Literary theorist Kenneth Burke likens scholarly conversation to a party:
“You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about…You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you…the hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in process.” (from The Philosophy of Literary Form)
In short, a scholarly conversation is a long-term, complex conversation that operates through textual synthesis, analysis, and citation. Part of our job as scholars is to discover an ongoing discussion around a problem by connecting different writers’ views. Once we do this, we can enter our own ideas into the discussion, forever changing that discussion. Pretty powerful, huh?
Why are we writing one?
Understanding existing conversations around a problem is a foundational skill of scholarship. Before we express our own ideas, we need to know how our own views relate to others’ views. This composition will also allow you to further develop skills of summary, synthesis, analysis, and the use of sources.
Alexander engages in a large scholarly conversation with hundreds of scholars, pulling together different ideas to support her own major claim. On a smaller scale, Osajima creates and adds to a conversation with Fanon, Memmi, and Freire to help him solve a problem in his classroom. And Coates begins a conversation with Baldwin, updating and reworking Baldwin’s claims.
We have read several essays from the long-term scholarly conversations around the problem of structural racism within the criminal justice and within the education systems. Now is your chance to enter this conversation with a purposeful, evidence-based contribution that substantially adds your voice to one of these ongoing conversations.
Here’s how you might begin: Choose either structural racism in the criminal justice system or the education system and pose a problem statement that gets to the heart of the problem. Then summarize the existing conversation by synthesizing 2-3 writers’ views: How do the writers address these problems? Why do they think these problems exist? What solutions do they propose? Where do these correspond or contradict each other? But most importantly, what do you have to add to this conversation?

Sources (choose 2-3)
Alexander, The New Jim Crow
• Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers”
• Baldwin, “My Dungeon Shook”
• Coates, “Letter to My Son”
Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
• Johnson, Privilege, Power, and Difference
• Langhout, “Acts of Resistance”
• Osajima, “Internalized Oppression and the Culture of Silence”
• Graff and Birkenstein, “Her Point Is- The Art of Summarizing” They Say/I Say (Drive)
• Graff and Birkenstein, “As He Himself Puts It-The Art of Quoting” They Say/I Say (Drive)
• Lunsford, Easy Writer
Drive Tool folder: “Connection Exercise,” “Creating a Conversation around a Problem,” “Logical Organization Model”
• Purdue Online Writing Lab (link)

Skills and Evaluation

  • Purpose: Does your essay have a clear purpose (a bottom line)? Does it focus its conversation around a problem?
  • Analysis: Do you move beyond summarizing the texts, developing original connections and analyses of sources?
  • Use of Sources: Are the sources well-integrated into the conversation? Do you provide enough context for sources? Have you effectively chosen when to quote and when to paraphrase for your reader?
  • Logical Organization: Is your essay organized in a way that creates a logical progression of ideas?
  • Style: Is your language clear, concise, and audience-appropriate?
  • Conventions: Have you properly cited each source and included works cited entries?