READING: Wood, Chapter 3
This week in class we took a broad approach to thinking of and exploring issues to write about. As we discussed last week, the topic search is one of the most difficult and unnatural aspects of college writing. In the real world, a topic finds you and creates the need to write. In academic writing, however, the need to write something is supposed to generate a topic...and that's a tall order. To compensate for this, it's a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to explore, think, and live with topic ideas for a while to figure out what you really want to say.
In general, the topic search can be broken down into the internal search and the external search. I always recommend that students begin with the internal search, or what you already know — techniques like idea mapping, brainstorming, freewriting, and outlining can help you identify areas of interest and narrow your topic. Remember...the more you are able to narrow your topic the better your paper will be.
The external search is what we most often think of when we think of doing research — looking to outside sources to see what other people have to say about an issue. While it's more efficient to develop and narrow a topic on your own and then do outside research (looking only for what you need), you could start with the external search if you're feeling completely stuck. Skim a couple articles in a good paper or browse a couple of Internet news sites, for example, to see what's going on in the world and what people are saying. Maybe something you read will trigger an idea or spark your interest. Surveying, skimming, browsing, highlighting, and annotating (note-taking) are good techniques to use when conducting your external search.
After the break, we discussed how to identify purpose in an argument...as well as how to look for the main claim and sub-claims and how to figure out the rhetorical situation and the audience. We practiced dissecting visual arguments this way as a class and then broke into groups for a graded group Analysis of a Visual Argument using TRACE. For some good examples of visual arguments, follow this link.
So...what did you think of Unit 3? Anything you don't understand?
Read Wood Ch. 4 / Study for Quiz