The Toughest Indian in the World and Junot Diaz, “Miss Lora”

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Research Project 150

5-7 pages; (25%)—you must write at least 6 full pages, the base-level requirement, or you’ll earn a zero.

1. Traditional Research Essay: Choose an issue that came out of our shared texts or one that interests you deeply (please run it by me first) and write a paper where you analyze that issue in relation to at least two texts that we’ve studied. These are your two primary texts. Read some articles about the issue that you’re exploring. These are your secondary sources. Briefly comment on what you think are the important points raised by your secondary sources. Then you’ll have to position yourself in the critical conversation that your secondary sources are engaged in (i.e. critics A and B say this; I’m saying that, or I agree/disagree/both with critic A or critic B). The rest of the essay will show how well you support your thesis/main point. Feel free to bring back the outside sources into the conversation as/if you see fit.

One suggested outline for this option:

A. Introduction/Thesis (properly introduce your topic and set up your thesis/argument—1 to 2 paragraphs)

B. Brief summary of and engagement with your four outside, secondary sources (per source: short summary—2 sentences—and then a longer analysis—3 to 4 sentences—about 1 paragraph in total per source)

C. Close, specific analysis of your two primary texts in support of your thesis/main point (you may bring in your outside sources again here if you want—this is the heart of your essay, where you forward your ideas and where you shine)

D. Conclusion: short and sweet! After writing your first draft, see if your thesis is indeed better articulated in your conclusion than in your introduction, where it might be vague since you hadn’t done the work of writing through your ideas yet. If this is the case, then cut/paste and make your conclusion part of your introduction.

2. Expanding Online Work: Choose a topic that you wrote about in one of your shorter online writing assignments on our Discussion Forum and expand that topic into a longer, formal essay. Again, you will need to engage with four reputable outside sources that speak to your topic and write 5-7 pages. You may find the above outline helpful here.

3. The Review: write a review of an album, film, tv program, podcast, café, restaurant, museum exhibit, etc. You will still need to write 5-7 double-spaced pages in total (so you may want to review two restaurants or two albums, etc.—your choice). For your four
outside sources, you may engage with other professional and reputable critics who have also reviewed your chosen album, film, etc. Put yourself in conversation with them (keep our “They Say and I Say in response…” model in mind). Your thesis/main argument will be your reasons for recommending (or not) your chosen text. Be sure to cite and engage with strong examples from your album, film, restaurant, etc. to support your argument about its worth. You may make a list of your top songs or films of 2020 (or 2021) and then argue a case for each, again, citing and engaging with professional critics who have also reviewed these texts.

“Anyone who’s a chef, who loves food, ultimately knows all that matters: Is it good? Does it give pleasure?”—Anthony Bourdain (RIP)

4. Advice Column. Building on our Savage Love advice column assignment, expand on the advice column you submitted in April. Remember, you are both the person seeking advice and the person giving advice. Just like Savage, you will have to use a specific rhetorical strategy in giving advice. Your rhetorical strategy in offering advice should be clear to your audience. In addition to your original advice column, you will need to write at least two more letters seeking advice along with two substantial responses to these letters. Your responses should be longer than the letters.

Above all, aim to avoid giving cliched advice; be creative, thoughtful and counter-intuitive like Savage is in his approach. Be sure to give your advice column a name. For this longer project, you’ll need to cite and analyze three outside, reputable sources in your responses to the issues that people write to you about. Your outside sources should help you address their problem for which they are seeking advice. Again, you’ll have to write at least 5-7 double spaced pages and engage with at least four outside, reputable sources that ate in keeping with the issue(s) you explore in your advice column.

At the top of your document, remember to be sure to provide one short paragraph where you set up your advice column, explaining the kind of advice column you write for. For example, do you offer readers advice about school; career; relationships; gardening; sports; family; finance; fashion, etc. What makes you the expert?

Remember, you must provide a Works Cited page for your four outside, secondary sources.

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