Navigating Sources That Disagree
Choose an issue or topic that is currently being publicly discussed and find three sources on it from newspapers, magazines, academic journals, or speeches that disagree with each other. Demonstrate your understanding of rhetorical situations and their constituents, rhetorical reading strategies, and rhetorical writing strategies by writing an analysis that does not simply summarize the sources, but explains and argues why and how the construction is different and, therefore, lends to them not being able to agree. In most instances, each rhetor has a different audience, but because of that fact, how are the texts constructed differently? What are the constraint differences? What “roles” do the authors play? How do the different audiences apply constraints to the authors?
Remember that this is not a position paper. It is not your job here to decide who is “right” and who is “wrong” but rather to rhetorically analyze the sources and write about the differences. You’ll need to actively read and analyze the sources to learn as much as possible and understand each individual rhetorical situation. This includes information about the authors and their audiences. Then, when you write the essay, you’ll be pulling pertinent information from your analyses to support your argument as to why the sources are constructed differently. For all of your observations and claims about a text you should have supporting evidence from the text itself.
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What to do:
Look for your sources in editorials, articles, or from commentary writers. Make sure that these sources have gone through some kind of editorial process before being published. This means that someone posting their opinions on a blog or discussion board is not an appropriate source.
Consider choosing sources from various media (print, digital, etc)
Pick the most relevant reasons why the constructions are different and describe those in your analysis (this becomes your thesis).
Some points to consider:
Even “facts” are rhetorically constituted and often open to interpretation.
Remember that each writer both joins and plays a role in constructing the rhetorical situation for their individual text.
Resist binary thinking, the idea that there are only two sides to every issue. This is not a pro/con paper.
Be sure to note the effect of any constraints on a given text—either assets or liabilities.
Use the analytical terms from class and the readings to analyze the sources. The content of the articles we’ve read should guide your analysis. Be sure to cite them when you use their ideas.
Find texts that are trying to persuade the audience in some way. While all texts can be rhetorically analyzed, it is easier to do when you can tell that the author has a purpose for his or her writing.
Things not to do:
Do not argue your own opinion on the issue. Regardless of how you feel about the issue, it should never be directly stated. Instead, it’s your job to persuasively answer a question about who is saying what, and why are they saying it?
Do not simply summarize the texts or what others have said about the texts.
Do not simply summarize everything you found out about the texts and their rhetorical situations in your analyses. Pick and choose the elements that contribute to your position.
Do not assume that the text is simply objective, liberal, or conservative, etc. If you are going to make such observations and claims about a text, then back them up with examples and evidence from the text itself.
You will be responsible for submitting possible sources for class discussion. You must have approval from me for your sources before you begin drafting your paper.
Format and other info:
Six to Eight pages (not including the Works Cited page), Times New Roman (double spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point font)
Name and page number is upper-right header
Final essay must follow MLA format (see example, UCF Writes or Perdue OWL)