- This assignment asks you to
think about and process different views on your research topic as
a way of understanding the context and different points of view surrounding
your research topic. In addition, this assignment asks you to consider
and implement different argumentative appeals about your research
topic based on your perception of how to be most persuasive about
an issue in terms of varying contexts, audience, and points of view.
In writing your Multiple Sides project, you will create exactly that:
a portfolio of multiple sides on a particular topic/issue - in this
case, the topic of your research paper. Recently in class, you did
a position paper free-write, exploring at length your own stand on
your topic. In completing this projec you will produce three different
opinion pieces or position papers on your topic, each one adopting
a different argumentative appeal, persona and context/media (although
you also may choose to have all three appear in the same context).
In essence, you will be arguing about your topic from three different
perspectives - rather than pro-con, I'm asking you to think in terms
of con-pro-pro, pro-con-con. Although you have a lot of creative freedom
in this assignment in terms of the way you construct each "side,"
the ultimate goal is to have you reach beyond your own rhetorical
stance in thinking about your research topic, and to demonstrate your
awareness of how to match up context, audience, voice, and argumentative
strategy to produce the most persuasive paper. You must accompany
each of your sides with at least one visual -- and use that visual
in a rhetorically effective way (note: you may opt to have the
sides reacting to the same image if you want).
- Remember, while each side might
not have a clearly defined introduction and conclusion (depending
on your chosen format) it must have a clear explicit/implicit thesis
that it is developing. For instance, a paper arguing against advertising
to children should not just be a wandering rant - it should have an
implicit guiding thesis/argumentative claim that it is supporting,
i.e. Advertising to children turns them into undiscriminating participants
in American consumer culture. This may or may not be stated explicitly
in your individual sides - depending on your format - but it must
inform and define that side's argument.
- Although extensive research
is not a required component of this assignment, your assertions should
be supported when necessary with compelling evidence: part of the
assignment is to see how you use evidence to support your argumentative
claims. The rigor of your evidence depends on the "medium"
you choose for each side -- for instance, an academic piece would
rely more on documented quotes from authorities than a piece from
- This project involves several
- FIRST: a contextual
summary of 1-2 pages in which you outline the different contexts and
argumentative stances for your research topic.
- SECOND: your multiple
sides themselves, in which you again address issues of context and
point of view in these three position papers.
- THIRD: introductory
and concluding frames for your sides in which you reflect on the strategies
you used to complete the project.
The Specifics for the Multiple Sides:
Persona. For each
side, you should create a "character" to serve as the
author of your argument. This person can be sheerly fictional
(Anne Garrity from Long Beach, California), or you can write through
the character of an actual person (Michael Jordan reflecting on
his relationship with Nike). In each case, however, you must decide
what type of persona/character would must logically and effectively
advocate a given position. For instance, a NY firefighter would
be a more likely candidate for a paper on post-9/11 advertising
than a member of the SF Giants would be; on the other hand, Barry
Bonds would be a better identity to assume if you're talking about
celebrities and endorsements. Your persona/characters can be in
dialogue with one another, or may be completely independent.
Context. This is
another area of the assignment where you have creative license.
You should adopt a logical context/media for each of your sides:
you may choose the opinion section of a newspaper as your context;
inter-office memos between advertising executives; the pages of
published magazines like Ms., Time, or The New
Yorker; mock webpage exposés by Adbusters.com, etc.
Your "sides" may all take the same context, or you may
write in several different media/formats. There are two crucial
elements to your use of context: first that the context be appropriate
both for your character and for your argument (i.e. Ms.
might not be the most logical place for a piece on post-9/11 advertising
because the topic does not lend itself naturally to a discussion
of feminist issues), and second that you demonstrate you have
a sense of how format, pacing, and argument differs between media.
In other words, a letter has a different format and pacing than
a Time essay or an internal office memo; an Opinion piece
also should be different from a standard academic essay. These
differences have to do with the structure of argument (i.e., a
letter does not necessarily contain a formal introduction and
thesis statement the way that an academic essay does) and the
layout of the piece (a child's perspective on advertising might
be written sloppily, in marker or crayon and accompanied by an
impromptu drawing; a newspaper article on the same topic would
use appropriate font and a multi-column layout). Remember, you
need to use at least one visual in each of your sides. Have fun
with the context (and character) - but make sure that you have
made your choices to further your rhetorical effectiveness in
making your argument - not just because you think it would be
amusing. You will not be graded on you technical proficiency in
imitating, for example, the format of the Stanford Daily,
but you will be evaluated on your awareness of how the context
you chose impacts layout, argument and voice.
Note: Just because you don't
know Dreamweaver or Microsoft Publisher does not mean that you
don't need to consider formatting: you can accomplish a lot with
just Word itself, and you could also take a low-tech approach
and physically cut and paste documents to create what looks like
a facsimile of an article or webpage.
Your introductory frame is important in that it sets up
the characters, topic, and context for your reader. Your introduction
can be written in your own voice, or you may here assume a fictional
identity as well - i.e., the editor of the newspaper that is running
these three different opinions on the issue of cigarette advertising.
In this section, you must clearly lay out the topic in question,
identify the media/context for each one, and then give brief background
on each character. Do not go into detail here as to why you chose
each specific persona and context - simply state them for the
Your concluding frame will be longer than your introduction and
should be written in your own voice. Although it does not need
to contain a formal introduction and conclusion itself, it should
be clear and well-structured - it should not be an unfocused free-write.
In your conclusion, you must answer the following questions (as
applicable) for each of your sides:
- What is the implicit
thesis behind this side? For instance, the topic for a paper
may be "internet advertising", but the thesis would
be "Internet advertising tramples on individual liberty
and right to privacy in the way it tracks our web-usage and
then bombards us with personally-tailored ads." You must
identify the thesis for each side in the concluding frame.
- What rhetorical appeal
does the side feature? Why did this seem like an appropriate
choice of the topic? Do you see any secondary appeals at work
in this side?
- Why did you choose this
particular character, this particular appeal, and this particular
context to represent this perspective on the issue?
- What did you have to
take into consideration in terms of the format? If you had the
technical skills, how would you have laid this out differently
to really capture the sense of the media you were working in
(i.e.: "If I had known Dreamweaver, I could have made this
look more like a web page - instead, I tried to use Microsoft
Word to chunk the text the way you see on the web
- Why did you choose this
visual? Do you feel like you employed it in a rhetorically effective
At the end of the conclusion,
you should write a closing reflection on what you learned from
this multiple sides project and its impact on how you think about
"taking sides" on and issue and how you consider point
of view, context, and rhetorical strategies when making an argument.
Use a folder when turning
in your portfolio.