The Assignment
The Purpose
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.

General assignment:

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 People magazine.

This project involves several different stages:
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, 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.


Introductory frame. 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 reader.


Concluding frame. 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 manner?

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.

Due Dates
Draft1: Friday, Oct. 24

Draft2: Monday, Oct. 27

Revision: Wednesday, Oct. 29
Preliminary Reading

Envision ch. 3, including student writing on the web for that chapter.


Post draft1 under Personal work

Print out draft2 (can be b/w) and bring to class

Post revision under Personal Work and also turned in as a portfolio

Context Summary: For Wednesday, the 22nd, you should write a 1-2 page draft of your context summary. This summary should be posted on-line.

Draft1: For Friday the 24th, each student should bring in a draft of each of their sides. The drafts, at a minimum, should be a 10 minute free-write that includes a preliminary visual. The key for the draft is conveying the message and persona for each side. You may experiment with the medium for the side as well (i.e., its format, context, and accompanying layout) but this is not mandatory. Post your draft under your personal work unless it is best represented printed out -- in which case, bring one print out to class in addition to storing it on PanFora.

Draft2: For Monday the 27th, each student should bring a "dress rehearsal" of their multiple sides project to class -- a thorough mock-up of the project, complete with images and design -- although you may print it in b/w. At this time, you should also bring drafts of your introductory and concluding frames for peer review. Bring one print out to class of your entire project.

Revision: Each "side" should be a position paper approximately 2-3 pages academic pages in length (approximately 600-900 words); this length (but not word count) might change when you format it as a popular article. The introductory frame will be between 1 paragraph and 1 page long; the concluding contextual analysis should be 1-2 pages in length.

The different sides should be produced in a format consistent (as far as you are technically capable) with its context - i.e. an essay from the Daily should be in multiple columns, with an appropriate header and footer and use of visuals. You must use at least one visual in each side in a rhetorically effective manner. You should site your secondary sources; if that is inappropriate for your context (i.e., a Newsweek article rarely contains footnotes or parenthetical documentation) you should include a brief works cited list in your concluding frame.

The Multiple Sides Popular Article Project is graded as a portfolio: in other words, while you will receive comments on each individual side, it is your overall project that is assessed when composing your grade.

To clarify: Your final Multiple Sides portfolio (which should be turned in in an actual portfolio or folder as well as posted on-line) should contain 1) the introductory frame; 2) the three "sides"; 3) the concluding frame 4) your (revised) context summary. This project is worth 20% of your grade for the class.